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November 26, 2012

Rocky Long

COACH LONG:  I think we're pretty excited around here about things that have happened over the last few weeks, and pretty excited about going to the bowl game.  I think that all of us, I know the staff and a lot of the players, are happy to be staying here, because there is no better place to be.

Q.  Were there hopes for the Las Vegas Bowl at all?
COACH LONG:  I think that we were really, really happy that we qualified for a bowl game about four weeks ago, and at that time it didn't really matter.  But then as people started talking about the possibilities of where you might go, I think we wanted to stay home and play in front of and give our fans a chance to see us in a bowl game.

Q.  What do you like about facing BYU?
COACH LONG:  I don't know yet.  Maybe nothing.  I haven't watched them on film yet.  I've seen them on TV a couple times, and they look awful big and strong.  I think their defense is ranked in the Top 10 in a lot of categories.  Since they were in the league for a long time and I was in the league for a long time, they look like a normal BYU team to me.  Great, big, strong, mature, all of those things.

Q.  How much success did you have against them when you were at NewMexico?
COACH LONG:  Not a whole lot.  I don't know what the records were.  I think we won twice.  They won I don't know, nine times maybe?  We won two or three; they won the others.  They were usually pretty good games though.  They were usually pretty competitive.

Q.  Since you guys have done it before, how different is a bowl game at home as opposed to a regular home game?  I know there is pomp and circumstance surrounding it, but is it a different ambience or something?
COACH LONG:¬† I actually think it makes the experience maybe a little bit better because you don't‑‑ some of the travel issues when you go on the road to a bowl game involves a lot of coordination.¬† I think that being at home where you don't have all of that probably makes it easier on a whole lot of people.¬† It also make it's much, much easier for your fans to watch you play, because it's expensive.
Like last year, we went to the New Orleans Bowl, and only had two weeks before we went.  I mean, that was expensive for us to go, and it was expensive for anybody that wanted to come watch us play too.

Q.  A lot of SDSU fans really hate BYU and they're excited to get a chance to beat them.  Do you feel like this is a rivalry between you guys and BYU?
COACH LONG:¬† How many rivalries do we have?¬† Every other week it's a rivalry.¬† I don't‑‑ I guess I haven't been here long enough to know if the Aztecs versus BYU is a big rivalry or not.¬† I think there are a lot of people that were in the old WAC and Mountain West Conference, and there were a lot of people that thought BYU was the rivalry.
What does BYU think?  I would guess BYU thinks Utah is, and I would guess Utah thinks BYU is.  I don't know why anybody else would even think it would be a rivalry game.

Q.  Do you feel like your team regard this is as a rivalry game?
COACH LONG:  No, I think our team our team is excited about playing anybody.  I don't think it has anything to do with the rivalry.  I think because they know who they are, there is going to be great respect for their program and great respect for the team.  But I wouldn't think there would be any more to it than that.

Q.  Did you hate them though when you were at NewMexico?

Q.  Did NewMexico hate them?
COACH LONG:  I'll get this out sooner or later.  I was born in Provo.  My mom and dad both graduated from BYU.  My dad played football and ran track at BYU.  What makes you think I could even hate them?  My mom and dad would hate me.

Q.  But you don't mind beating them?
COACH LONG:  I would like to win the game just like they would.

Q.  Would you like to win it even more?  Every game was the most important game, but BYU is kind of a measuring stick and has been for people in this conference for a long time.  To beat them, what would it say?
COACH LONG:  I don't see it like that at all.  A bowl game is a reward, unless you're playing for a National Championship, which we don't have the opportunity to play for.  A bowl game is entirely a reward for having a good season.  There is no extra incentive, there is no extra benefit other than your guys coming back next year get a whole lot more practice time.  It's like an extra spring practice, so it's really important for your program.
But it's a celebration of a good year.  It's rewarding your players for a good year.  There is no added incentive or meaning, and someone who tries to make it that way, they don't know what the bowl game experience is all about.  Now I think it's different if it's a National Championship Game.

Q.  I think they know what it's about, and it's awesome.  But BYU versus San Diego State goes way back.  It's a great history.  And your fans, the fan base you're trying to build would think it's pretty cool if you beat BYU?
COACH LONG:  I think it would be pretty cool too.  But it's not because of a long time rivalry of any sort.

Q.  Can you speak to your successor your job that you did this year coming from where you were at one point where everybody was kind of questioning the football program to now you're conference championship and going to a bowl game?  It hadn't been since 1998, how difficult this was this year?
COACH LONG:  Well, first of all, the way the world is now, everybody jumps to conclusions awfully fast.  I mean, I said before the season started that we were going to have a good football team.  I just didn't know when it was going to happen.  I didn't know how early it was going to happen.
I guess every fan base in America expects you to win every game, and if you don't win every game, you're not doing your job.  Well, that's really hard when there are two teams out there, and one of them has to lose.
So I think we started off the season.  We were a young football team that didn't play very well, especially up front in the defensive line which caused the defense to play poorly.  The offense came along pretty quick, then finally the defense kicked in and we were a good football team just like we predicted before the season started.
.  I don't think anybody's surprised at our success.  I don't think our kids are surprised at the success.  I think our kids expected to be good, and, obviously, momentum plays a huge role.  Once you start playing well, the confidence factor kicks in, and you're playing well all the time.  When you walk on the field, you believe you're going to win, and that makes a huge difference than not believing you're going to win.

Q.  Did you look at this year, and say darn it?
COACH LONG:  I don't ever think that way.  I don't think I did as good a job as I should have.

Q.¬† You always talk about this as like a five‑year building process.¬† Are you at this point where you wanted to be at the end of year three?
COACH LONG:¬† I think that our overall record is better than I anticipated it would be at the start of the year.¬† There was no doubt in my mind we were going to be in a bowl game though and have a winning record.¬† Winning the conference championship I think is a little more than I expected with this young of a football team.¬† But after we won a game in Nevada‑Reno, that was the goal, and that was the belief of our team that we were going to win the conference championship.¬† If we had started a couple weeks earlier, we'd be outright champions.

Q.  How beneficial was the added practice time for your team, especially for the younger guys?
COACH LONG:¬† Of all the great things about a bowl game, for building a program, that's the number one benefit.¬† Because when you get a bowl bid, they have a really positive attitude about things.¬† So they work hard in the weight room, they work hard on the practice field, and all the majority of the guys that aren't going to play in the bowl game, it is another spring practice.¬† In fact, our practices will be an hour to an hour 15 minutes long, then a 30‑minute scrimmage all the way till the week before the first game.¬† All the guys that don't play very much or the guys that have been on the scout team or have been red shirted, they'll scrimmage.¬† There is only one way at getting good at playing football and that is playing football.

Q.  Do you feel there is looking at the big picture, is there too big of a gap between the final game and the bowl game, and a lot of these bowl games where it's like 30 days or three weeks, four weeks, five weeks, too big of a gap?
COACH LONG:  I think that's a great observation because you only get so many practice sessions by NCAA rules.  Even ours is a long time between our last game and when the bowl game is.  There are great benefits to having that time because you can spread practices out and work on fundamentals and all those things where you can really improve your team and improve your program.  But when you have that much time between a game to the next game, you lose a whole bunch of the sharpness.  A whole bunch of the attitude about preparing for a game you kind of mentally get lazy.  Even though they're working hard in the weight room and on the practice field, the playing week after week after week, you lose all of that.
So I think, even the national championship game, I think those teams would play much, much better if they were playing this week.  Now I know there is an SEC Championship game that comes in between but if they were playing within a week of their last game, the game would be much better.  But it's the same for both teams, so it's competitive.
I don't necessarily think you're getting the best football of the year.  The two teams at the last game of the year are usually the best game.

Q.  So what is your schedule going to be for next year?  You have 15 extra practices; is that right?
COACH LONG:  We get 15 practices between our last game and the bowl game.  So we're basically practicing three days a week.  So that's like spring practice.  And in spring practice, you're not preparing for the opponent; you're preparing for next year.  That's one of the reasons the emphasis on winning the bowl game.  There are more important things, and that's developing the team for the next season.

Q.  So what is your idea of playing some of the young kids in the bowl game or not?  Do you do that?
COACH LONG:  No, no, the ultimate goal is still to win.  So you play the same players you've played all year.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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