Aztecs Coach Fired

Chuck Long was fired as San Diego State's football coach after two top school officials spent the last two weeks raising just more than $1 million in private money to help buy out the remaining two years of his contract.

Although SDSU announced the firing on Sunday afternoon, Long was informed of the move by athletic director Jeff Schemmel on Saturday morning, several hours before the Aztecs' surprising 42-21 win over UNLV. San Diego State finished 2-10, the first 10-loss session in school history.

Hired in December 2005 with no previous head coaching experience, Long was 9-27 in three seasons.

Long didn't return several calls seeking comment.

Schemmel was hospitalized with a hip infection, the school said, and did not attend a news conference Sunday afternoon.

Despite Schemmel's glowing vote of confidence a few days after a 70-7 loss to New Mexico on Oct. 18, SDSU president Stephen Weber said he and the AD spent the last two weeks calling boosters to see if they could raise the money needed to buy out Long and pay for other transition costs, such as hiring a search firm.

Long is owed approximately $1.4 million. That amount could be defrayed by whatever amount Long makes if he lands another coaching job.

 "Jeff came to me about two weeks ago saying, 'You know, I think we're going to need to make a change,' " Weber said. "And then the next question was, 'Do we have the option to make a change? Do we have the financial option to make a change?'

 "Once we found out that that was a real option, then Jeff proceeded to make the decision and notify Chuck."

The president wouldn't identify any of the donors.

 "We were raising this money as late a a couple of days ago. I haven't got any permission from any of them to release their names."
  Added Weber: "No state money will go toward this purpose at all."

Before coming to San Diego State, Long spent six seasons on Oklahoma's staff. He was the Heisman Trophy runner-up for Iowa to Bo Jackson in 1985.

Long came in with great promise, saying: "We're going to win championships now."

Instead, the Aztecs were 3-9, 4-8 and 2-10 under the former Iowa quarterback.

Sad-sack San Diego State hasn't been to a bowl game in 10 years.

Weber said it was Schemmel's decision to fire Long, "but i support it completely."

The president also said it wasn't a mistake by Schemmel to hire Long in the first place.

"If you look back on that, I think Chuck was a great hire. He had wonderful credentials. There was every reason to believe he could be successful. Now it didn't turn out that he was but no, I don't think it was a mistake at all." 

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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