Tag:Rocky Long
Posted on: February 29, 2012 7:51 pm
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Report: SDSU dismisses Dillon Baxter

Posted by Tom Fornelli

A hundred years from now, scholars will still gather and debate the greatest moments of the Dillon Baxter Era at San Diego State, and it'll be a sad sight to behold. It just shouldn't take a century to dissect an era that failed to last even 60 days.

The San Diego Union-Tribune reported on Wednesday night that Baxter had been dismissed by the team not even two months after transferring to the school from USC. Baxter had been suspended last week for what head coach Rocky Long referred to as a "variety of things."

While the school has yet to confirm Baxter's dismissal, the report says a source close to the situation told the Union-Tribune those "things" haven't stopped happening.

Baxter said he "couldn't talk about it" when contacted by the paper.

School seems to be the main culprit, as Baxter reportedly had issues with attendance and sleeping through study halls. The report also says that Baxter recently became a father, which may be playing a role in his ability to attend class and desire to find sleep whenever and where ever he can.

Baxter carried the ball only 9 times for 29 yards at USC last season, failing to receive any playing time in any of USC's final eight games.

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Posted on: December 6, 2011 3:41 pm
Edited on: December 6, 2011 6:05 pm
 

Big East additions: what do they bring?

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

The Big East will go a long way towards remaining a solvent football league this week when, as reported by CBSSports.com's Brett McMurphythey announce the additions of Boise State, San Diego State, Houston, UCF and SMU.

The additions will bring the conference's total number of football-playing members to 10, with Nos. 11 and 12 possibly soon to follow. But just as importantly, the expansion also gives the league a bona fide headliner--Boise brings their impeccable record at the non-AQ level, national recognition, and their attention-grabbing status as the No. 1 lightning rod for the FBS's ongoing haves-vs.-have-nots discussion.

But what do we know about the other four teams joining up? What do they bring to the table? What issues might they have to deal with? We've broken it down team-by-team:

HOUSTON

PROS: The Cougars are riding a Case Keenum-led high, having won 22 games in their star QB's last two healthy seasons, including the program's first bowl win since 1980 in 2009. But Houston has plenty going for it off the field, too; their location smack dab in the middle of one of the country's largest television markets (this is going to be a repeating theme) and most fertile recruiting grounds should pay the Big East dividends both in their TV negotiations and on the recruiting trail. If the Cougars themselves can capitalize on their new BCS status on the trails in Houston and nearby Louisiana, they could be a power for years to come.

CONS: What happens when Keenum and head coach Kevin Sumlin --as seems increasingly likely -- both depart for greener pastures? This is still a program that, as mentioned, has just one bowl win in the past 31 years and was in truly sorry shape when Art Briles (with Sumlin in tow) arrived in 2003. The wrong hire in the wake of Sumlin's exit could return the Cougars to their doormat days in a hurry. And as nice as the Houston market is, the Cougars still need to make more inroads into it; fulfilling a promise to expand or replace 32,000-seat Robertson Stadium would be a plus.

SMU

PROS: As with the Cougars, Dallas-based SMU has the advantage of being located in one of the nation's biggest metro markets, a major plus for the television bean counters. But the Mustangs also have an administration that hasn't been shy about throwing its financial support behind its formerly woebegone program, and that's not a "Pony Express" joke; the school opened Gerald J. Ford Stadium just 11 years ago and four seasons back ponied up the cash (that pun's intended) to lure June Jones from Hawaii. Result: three straight bowl bids after a 25-year drought, some of the best recruiting classes in Conference USA, and noticeably increased fan interest and attendance.

CONS: If the Mustangs can hang onto Jones, or replace him with another smart (and duly expensive) hire, they have more than enough potential to be a respectable member of the Big East for some time to come. (The league's higher-ups have to appreciate that the Mustangs defeated Big East deserters TCU this past season.) But the Dallas market and surrounding recruiting grounds are so ultra-competitive, turning SMU's resources and location into a legitimate BCS contender may take quite a few years and even more support from the SMU fanbase, which was called out by an SMU player this season for its lack of enthusiasm.

UCF

PROS: If there's any school that's put its money where its mouth is when it comes to supporting athletics, it's UCF, which opened the $55 million, 45,00-seat on-campus Bright House Networks Stadium four years ago amongst multiple other major facilities upgrades. Though a 5-7 2011 season has been a major disappointment for George O'Leary's program, this is still a team that's won two C-USA titles and earned three bowl bids in the past five years. As the second-largest school in the country in terms of enrollment and the only major college football program in the sizable Orlando market, a move to the Big East and a few years of consistent winning could give the Knights the push on the recruiting trail needed to become a legit BCS contender.

CONS: Of course, that's all assuming the NCAA Committee on Infractions doesn't give the program the USC treatment in the wake of the recent allegations against exiled athletic director Keith TribbleThough the Orlando market is an obvious TV positive, the Knight's central Florida location is both a blessing and a curse; while there's plenty of athletes available around which O'Leary (or his successor) can build a successful program, there's also few (if any) areas of the country where the competition for those athletes is more cutthroat. A few NCAA-hamstrung poor seasons could deal the program a blow that could take it years to recover from.

SAN DIEGO STATE

PROS: Long regarded as the "sleeping giant" of the Mountain West, the Aztecs finally went some way towards waking up with a 9-4 2010 season and just their second bowl berth in 19 years--a campaign that resulted in an attendance surge that ranked amongst the nation's best. Despite the loss of head coach Brady Hoke and multiple NFL talents, an 8-4 year and New Orleans Bowl berth wasn't a bad follow-up. Thanks to their access to California's bountiful recruiting grounds and the TV-friendly San Diego market, another good year or two for Rocky Long should lay the foundation for success for years to come.

CONS: As much potential as SDSU has on paper, this is still a program with just four bowl appearances and one win since 1969; just because it looks like it should be easy to win here doesn't mean it is. More than any of the other addditions save Boise, SDSU will add a sizable chunk to opponent's travel bills. And Long, already 61 years old, may not be the long-term answer at head coach; if he's not, will the Aztec brass be shrewd enough (or spend enough) to find another Hoke?

Posted on: November 18, 2011 12:07 pm
 

USC RB Dillon Baxter released from scholarship

Posted by Chip Patterson

After a rocky start to his collegiate career, USC running back Dillon Baxter has reportedly been released from his scholarship and will seek a transfer after this semester.

"After speaking with Coach [Lane] Kiffin, we decided it was better to part ways," Baxter's stepfather, Anthony Mooney, told The Orange County Register on Thursday. "It was an amicable situation that was better for Dillon and for USC. We want to thank everyone at the university for the opportunity and support they gave to Dillon while he was there. Unfortunately it just didn't work out. It just wasn't a match at this point."

Baxter, a touted five-star recruit out of San Diego, saw limited action in the first four games of the season. His most productive performance being a seven carry, 29 yard outing in the 38-17 victory over Syracuse on Sept. 17. When Baxter did not make the trip to Notre Dame in October, Kiffin cited academics as the reason the sophomore running back would not be a part of the program.

Baxter's stepfather told The Register that the talented tailback is "looking for a new start." The schools currently under consideration for transfer reportedly include San Diego State, Florida, and Portland State.

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Posted on: October 11, 2011 12:27 am
 

Report: San Diego State looking for Big 12 invite

Posted by Bryan Fischer

Memphis has been looking for an invitation to the SEC (really) but they're not the only program looking to take a big step up in competition.

According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, San Diego State is all but begging for an invite to the Big 12. Athletic director Jim Sterk has passed information about the school and surrounding television market to Big 12 officials, including interim commissioner Chuck Neinas.

“We’ve been proactive as far as getting information out and just making sure their folks know what a valuable commodity San Diego State is,” Sterk told the Union-Tribune. “We’ve been able to show how well we capture the San Diego television market in the last couple of years and have a program that’s really on the rise and have a lot of things going for it. We’re a member of the Mountain West Conference, and we think it’s a very good conference. But if things realign, you never know how the sands are moving.”

The Big 12 officially welcomed TCU to the league on Monday, adding the school in the wake of Texas A&M's departure to the SEC in 2012. The league may continue to expand, possibly back to 12 members, or choose to remain at 10. Leaders are still waiting on a decision from Missouri, which is mulling their conference affiliation options and could choose to follow the Aggies to the SEC.

BYU, Louisville and West Virginia are the schools frequently brought up if the Big 12 is to expand again but Sterk wanted to make officials aware that San Diego State is just as close geographically to schools such as Texas as BYU is.

“If they look west, who knows what happens?” Sterk said.

Neinas is familiar with the school, having advised former athletic director Jeff Schemmel to hire football coach Rocky Long in 2006 as part of his consulting business.
Posted on: July 27, 2011 10:53 am
Edited on: August 4, 2011 12:18 pm
 

MWC forbids Boise from all-blue look at home

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

When San Diego State head coach Rocky Long called the combination of Boise State's home Smurf Turf and their all-blue uniforms "unfair" this past April, we applauded his candor but also assumed he was giving voice to run-of-the-mill behind-the-scenes sour grapes. If Boise hadn't been so good, and their opponents on the blue turf hadn't lost so many times, no one would care about the color of the field or uniforms, right?

Maybe not. But as it turns out, Long is far from the only coach to believe the Broncos' home color-coordination gives them an unfair advantage. In fact, so many of the coaches in Boise's new Mountain West Conference home complained that the league prohibited the Broncos from wearing all-blue uniforms in their conference home games as a prerequisite for their entry into the league.

While the Bronco administration had little choice but to sign off on the agreement (what, they were going to stay in the WAC over their uniforms?), you couldn't have expected the MWC's plan to go over well in Boise. And it hasn't, with even usually soft-spoken head coach Chris Petersen railing against the decision at MWC Media Days Tuesday:
“I thought it was ridiculous,” Petersen said of his reaction. “… That’s our colors. That’s who we are. That’s who our fans have wanted us to be since I’ve been at Boise State. That’s what it’s been through and through.”

The MWC's explanation?

Said commissioner Craig Thompson: “What we had heard from our coaches is ‘a competitive advantage.’ It’s as simple as that.”
Again: color us skeptical the Broncos' "competitive advantage" in Boise has anywhere near as much to do with the field or the uniforms as the long travel, players like Kellen Moore, and coaches like Petersen. And we're particularly skeptical the coaches' gripes are based in legitimate competition issues -- rather than a conference-wide sort of rookie hazing -- when we read the following:
One complaint from coaches is that it’s difficult to watch video of the Broncos’ home games. Petersen said that’s true, but shouldn’t be an issue as schools switch to high definition.
It's a little more difficult to watch film of their games, so you're going to tell the Broncos what uniforms they can and can't wear at their own stadium? Really?

Really. As a neutral viewer, we shouldn't complain; the all-blue look on the blue turf does take a few series' of visual adjustment (even in HD), and monochrome uniforms in bright colors aren't exactly the height of football fashion no matter the color of the field. But quirky home-field advantages have always been a part of college football, and this one seems even more quirky and innocuous than most.

So: we anxiously await confirmation from the MWC that as part of their invitations to join, Hawaii will be playing their home games in California, Nevada will be playing theirs at sea level (and only in September and October, what with those chilly November/December temperatures in Reno), and at theirs Fresno State will force Pat Hill to coach clean-shaven.

Posted on: July 27, 2011 10:53 am
Edited on: August 4, 2011 12:18 pm
 

MWC forbids Boise from all-blue look at home

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

When San Diego State head coach Rocky Long called the combination of Boise State's home Smurf Turf and their all-blue uniforms "unfair" this past April, we applauded his candor but also assumed he was giving voice to run-of-the-mill behind-the-scenes sour grapes. If Boise hadn't been so good, and their opponents on the blue turf hadn't lost so many times, no one would care about the color of the field or uniforms, right?

Maybe not. But as it turns out, Long is far from the only coach to believe the Broncos' home color-coordination gives them an unfair advantage. In fact, so many of the coaches in Boise's new Mountain West Conference home complained that the league prohibited the Broncos from wearing all-blue uniforms in their conference home games as a prerequisite for their entry into the league.

While the Bronco administration had little choice but to sign off on the agreement (what, they were going to stay in the WAC over their uniforms?), you couldn't have expected the MWC's plan to go over well in Boise. And it hasn't, with even usually soft-spoken head coach Chris Petersen railing against the decision at MWC Media Days Tuesday:
“I thought it was ridiculous,” Petersen said of his reaction. “… That’s our colors. That’s who we are. That’s who our fans have wanted us to be since I’ve been at Boise State. That’s what it’s been through and through.”

The MWC's explanation?

Said commissioner Craig Thompson: “What we had heard from our coaches is ‘a competitive advantage.’ It’s as simple as that.”
Again: color us skeptical the Broncos' "competitive advantage" in Boise has anywhere near as much to do with the field or the uniforms as the long travel, players like Kellen Moore, and coaches like Petersen. And we're particularly skeptical the coaches' gripes are based in legitimate competition issues -- rather than a conference-wide sort of rookie hazing -- when we read the following:
One complaint from coaches is that it’s difficult to watch video of the Broncos’ home games. Petersen said that’s true, but shouldn’t be an issue as schools switch to high definition.
It's a little more difficult to watch film of their games, so you're going to tell the Broncos what uniforms they can and can't wear at their own stadium? Really?

Really. As a neutral viewer, we shouldn't complain; the all-blue look on the blue turf does take a few series' of visual adjustment (even in HD), and monochrome uniforms in bright colors aren't exactly the height of football fashion no matter the color of the field. But quirky home-field advantages have always been a part of college football, and this one seems even more quirky and innocuous than most.

So: we anxiously await confirmation from the MWC that as part of their invitations to join, Hawaii will be playing their home games in California, Nevada will be playing theirs at sea level (and only in September and October, what with those chilly November/December temperatures in Reno), and at theirs Fresno State will force Pat Hill to coach clean-shaven.

Posted on: July 21, 2011 4:30 pm
Edited on: July 21, 2011 4:54 pm
 

SDSU's receiving corps takes a big blow

Posted by Tom Fornelli

There were a lot of questions facing San Diego State this season coming off of a bowl appearance, and perhaps none of them were bigger than trying to figure out how the Aztecs would replace the production of their top two receivers from 2010: Vincent Brown and DeMarco Sampson. That question just got a lot harder to answer on Thursday when we learned that San Diego State would be without both Dominique Sandifer and Jay Waddell for the entire 2011 season.

SDSU’s most experienced returning receiver, junior Dominique Sandifer, has been ruled out for the coming season with a knee injury suffered during offseason drills. Redshirt freshman receiver Jay Waddell also hurt his knee in the offseason and will be out for the year.

Looking at the bright side of it, head coach Rocky Long said, “We don’t see it as a big blow because we had inexperienced receivers anyway.”

“They were all going to be given a chance in the fall,” Long said. “The ones that played the best were going to get a chance to play. I don’t think situation has changed dramatically whatsoever.”

Long may have a point in his response to the news, but no matter how he tries to brush it off, this is still a big blow to the Aztecs offense. Sandifer may not have had a lot of experience in his career, but he's still the most experienced receiver San Diego State has after making 23 catches for 263 yards last season. He was also slated to be the Aztecs' deep threat in 2011, and while tight end Gavin Escobar will be a useful target for quarterback Ryan Lindley, he's not exactly going to stretch the field.

The upcoming season is going to be an important one for the Aztecs. Even though Brady Hoke left for Michigan, the expectations with the program are high enough that a second consecutive bowl appearance is the expectation. With Lindley, Ronnie Hillman and Walter Kazee all back, the Aztecs had the weapons on offense to ensure that it would happen again provided that the inexperienced receiving corps stepped up.

Now that Sandifer has been lost, along with Waddell, nobody can be sure what will happen to a passing attack that finished 12th in the nation in yards per game last season.  

Posted on: April 20, 2011 2:09 pm
 

SDSU's Long calls Boise blue turf 'unfair'

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Say this for first-year San Diego State head coach Rocky Long: he's not a man to hide what he's really think.

Just ask BYU. Or as of yeterday, his Aztecs' new conference rivals at Boise State, since Long made it beyond clear he doesn't think much of the Broncos' famous Smurf Turf:

"I think they ought to get rid of that blue turf. I think it's unfair," said Long, the former New Mexico coach ...  

When asked to expand, Long said, "it takes the visiting team a quarter or two to get used to that different field."  

Long said players "track the ball differently" on the blue turf, particularly since Boise State traditionally wears all-blue uniforms on the blue turf.

Long isn't the first coach to grumble about the Boise field's effect, though he might be the first to do so so publicly. We encourage him to continue, since the Aztecs' home game against the Broncos already shapes up to be one of the best in the 2011 Mountain West and should only get spicier from here. (Boise's Chris Petersen unfortunately wasn't willing to play along, politely saying his players don't notice any effects from the blue field "because we see it every day.") 

But is there any truth to Long's claims? The Broncos did go 40-0 at home in their 10 years in the WAC and are (as the Idaho Statesman points out) an incredible 69-2 on the blue turf since 2000. 

But the simpler explanation for BSU's success, of course -- and it's one we wish Petersen had made in retort -- is that the Broncos have been really, really good, and traveling all the way to Boise to play those good teams is very, very hard. Maybe Long is right that the combination of the field and the Broncos' blue uniforms is unsettling enough that it doesn't make for an entirely even playing field (and to be fair to Long, he does have personal experience with the Smurf Turf, having taken the Lobos to Boise in 1999), but whatever advantage Boise gets isn't nearly so big as the advantage of simply having the better team.

In short: with all due respect to Mr. Long -- and to the thousands of retinas scarred annually by the blue turf in high definition -- Boise shouldn't feel obligated to tear up the turf anytime soon.

 
 
 
 
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