New Mexico Football: Rocky Long Rumored to Become Defensive Coordinator at Syracuse
The Lobos legend might be heading east to ACC country.
Another big-time departure?
The New Mexico Lobos did not have the 2022 football season that they envisioned and, after an early spate of transfer portal departures over the past week and a half, they may lose a substantial piece of the current coaching staff to the Power 5.
Syracuse is hiring 72-year-old Rocky Long as its defensive coordinator. The former San Diego State head coach had been New Mexico's DC since 2020 and first started out as a D-coordinator at Wyoming 41 years ago.
— Bruce Feldman (@BruceFeldmanCFB) December 17, 2022
Though nothing is official as of this writing, initial rumors that defensive coordinator Rocky Long will leave New Mexico for the same position at Syracuse, which were brought forth by Syracuse.com’s Emily Leiker three days ago, were given more credence this morning with a report from local Albuquerque radio station 101.7 FM The Team that the move would happen. KRQE’s Van Tate followed up to note that the university “would not confirm or deny” Long being tabbed as the permanent replacement for interim Orange coordinator Nick Monroe, who’s held the position since predecessor Tony White was hired by Nebraska last week.
Long, of course, refined his famous 3-3-5 defense after Joe Lee Dunn developed it Memphis in the early 1990s and that is the same defense which White had run as Syracuse’s defensive coordinator over the last three seasons. The two have a coaching connection, as was pointed out by The Athletic’s Mitch Sherman, since White served as Long’s linebacker coach at New Mexico back in 2008 after playing under him at UCLA.
It’s not the first time, either, that Syracuse has pursued Long to fill the defensive coordinator position, having done so in 2020 before settling on White.
Should the hire come to fruition, it would be a big blow for a Lobos football program that has struggled to find traction under Danny Gonzales. New Mexico allowed 5.54 yards per play this season, which ranked ninth in the Mountain West, but posted a 7.3% sack rate which ranked 38th among FBS defenses and forced 17 turnovers, the most by a UNM defense in a full season since 2018.