From 1999-2008, Danny Gonzales worked on Rocky Long‘s staff at New Mexico. Now, the shoe is on the other foot.
On Monday, new Lobos head coach Gonzales announced Long as his defensive coordinator in Albuquerque.
“Look who’s back on the sideline together!!!” Gonzales tweeted. “Welcome back Coach Long DC /Linebackers Best DC in CFB!!! Let’s Do This! The goal is Conference Championship #5 Lets Gooooooo!”
The hiring concludes a strange saga for the 70-year-old Long (today is actually his birthday), who was rumored to interview for the Syracuse defensive coordinator job that later went to his own defensive coordinator in Zach Arnett. (Incidentally, Arnett has since left that job.) Two days later, on Jan. 8, Long stepped down as San Diego State’s head coach, a move the school termed as a retirement.
And now he’s back for his sixth tour of duty in Lobo colors.
Long first played defensive back at New Mexico from 1969-71, then joined the staff as a graduate assistant in 1972 while playing semi-professionally in Canada. After a stint at a New Mexico high school, he returned to UNM as a position coach in 1978, first coaching offensive backs before switching to defensive backs. After climbing the ladder as a coordinator, Long obtained his first head coaching job at New Mexico in 1998, going 65-69 with five bowl appearances in 11 seasons. He then went 81-38 with three Mountain West titles and at least a share of two division crowns from 2011-19.
Look who's back on the sideline together!!! Welcome back Coach Long DC /Linebackers Best DC in CFB!!! Let's Do This! The goal is Conference Championship #5 Lets Gooooooo! #GoLobos #WIN5 pic.twitter.com/dS27ri8D7j
— Coach Gonzales (@CoachGonzUNM) January 27, 2020
Long is presumably set to take a major pay cut in the move. He earned close to $880,000 as SDSU’s head coach in 2019, while New Mexico paid then-coordinator Jordan Peterson $170,000 in 2019.