Rocky Long, an innovative defensive mind who brought the 3-3-5 defense to prominence, has been hired as Syracuse’s new defensive coordinator.

Long – who boasts nearly 50 years of coaching experience, 20 of which came as a head coach at the FBS level – will take over a Syracuse defense that has finished in the top-30 nationally in total defense in back-to-back seasons, running the defensive scheme that he made famous.

“I’m thrilled to have someone with Coach Long’s experience join our staff,” said head coach Dino Babers. “He’s an innovative coach that will bring a wealth of knowledge to our football program.”

Long’s tenure spans over four decades, and includes highlights such as being the winningest head coach in Mountain West Conference history, the winningest coach in New Mexico history, and amassing the second-most wins of any coach at San Diego State and four 10-win seasons, including a stretch of three-straight, in his nine years at the helm of the Aztecs.

“I’m excited to be here and to get to work,” Long said. “I’m grateful for my time at New Mexico and the chance to work with Coach Gonzales again these past few years, but Iook forward to this new opportunity here in Syracuse.”

San Diego State reached a bowl game every year during his head coaching tenure and his teams have reached the postseason 16 times, 15 of which coming in the last 20 years. His teams were bowl eligible in 16 of his last 17 seasons as a head coach. He has also mentored over 30 NFL Draft picks as either a coordinator or head coach, most notably Pro Football Hall of Fame selection Brian Urlacher.

Long joins the Orange by way of New Mexico, where he was serving his alma mater as the defensive coordinator for the past three seasons. Since his arrival, Long has steadily improved the Lobos’ defense. For the third-straight year, the defense lowered its yards per game surrendered and now has cut over 125 yards per game off what the per contest average was the year prior to his arrival.

His unit finished in the top-50 of total defense in each of the past two seasons and surrendered an average of just 202 yards per game through the air this year, making them one of the 30 best pass defenses in the nation. New Mexico was last nationally in the category prior to his arrival. These past two seasons were also the first time that UNM has finished in the top-50 of total defense in back-to-back seasons in 15 years. The Lobo defense also placed in the top 35 in third-down defense and in the top 25 in defensive first downs.

New Mexico saw eight players garner All-Mountain West honors this season, tying for the most in the past-10 seasons and had its first positional Freshman All-American since 2014 in safety A.J. Haulcy.

Prior to his return to New Mexico, Long spent 11 seasons at San Diego State, including nine as the head coach. He is still the Mountain West’s winningest head coach by more than 20 victories. In his tenure on The Mesa, he led SDSU to three conference titles, including back-to-back seasons in 2015 and 2016.

He is also a three-time Mountain West Coach of the Year honoree and holds a 146-107 all-time record as a head coach.

In addition to tenures with New Mexico and San Diego State as a coordinator, Long also has stints running defenses at UCLA (1996-97), Oregon State (1991-95) and Wyoming (1981-85) at the collegiate level. He has also coached the secondary for TCU (1988-90) and New Mexico (1979-80). His one professional coaching stop was with the BC Lions of the CFL, where he coached linebackers in 1986-87.

A 1971 graduate of New Mexico with a degree in education, Long was a three-time academic all-conference selection and was the WAC Player of the Year in 1971.

He and his wife Debbie have two daughters, Roxanne and Hannah.