San Diego State coaches try to trick and pay tribute to former colleagues
San Diego State coach Rocky Long shared a sideline with Michigan coach Brady Hoke for the past two season as Hoke's defensive coordinator for the Aztecs.
On Saturday, Long stood opposite his old friend, but was accompanied by him in another way.
On a large cardboard sign, Long had a picture of Hoke with his first name underneath.
The sign wasn't an inside joke nor a motivational ploy. It symbolized offensive and defensive packages he was trying to disguise from his former colleague.
Melanie Maxwell | AnnArbor.com
"They know our signals," Long said after the game, a 28-7 Michigan victory. "So we were trying to figure out a way to signal the defense for our defense without them knowing exactly what we were in, so we started making all these cards."
Long had signs made up for every former San Diego staff member who left with Hoke, including offensive coordinator Al Borges, special teams coordinator Dan Ferrigno, offensive line coach Darrell Funk, wide receivers coach Jeff Hecklinski, linebackers coach Mark Smith as well as administrators.
The sign marked "Brady" was used for goal-line plays and short-yardage situations.
Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson and running back Vincent Smith said the signs did have an effect on the offense, but probably not in the way Long had envisioned.
"Everyone was in the huddle laughing, like, 'Look at this guy. They have the pictures of our coaches up there,' " Robinson said.
While mostly for strategic reason, Long admitted the signs were a way to pay tribute to his former colleagues.
"It was our way of telling them how much we miss them," Long said. "It was really a tribute to them because we’re all friends and we know they’re going to do a great job."