San Diego State's floundering program remains one of college football's biggest mysteries. It is one of only three Division I-A teams in talent-rich Southern California, yet the Aztecs haven't had a winning season since 1998 — simply remarkable considering the team doesn't play in a power conference.
Heisman winners Marcus Allen (USC, 1981) Rashaan Salaam (Colorado, 1994), Ricky Williams (Texas, 1998) and Reggie Bush (USC, 2005) are all from the area, having been reared within a 15-mile radius. But when the Aztecs came calling, they didn't even bother to pick up the phone.
Chuck Long, in his third season as coach, is 8-21. The heat is on and what the 1-4 Aztecs accomplish the rest of the season could decide his fate.
Nick Canepa of the San Diego Union-Tribune has had it with the Long era. Canepa writes: "Fact is, State's program hasn't improved under coach Chuck Long. It's gotten worse where it matters most. I don't believe he honestly can deny it.
"He's been a player and a coach. He knows the drill. Long didn't take over anything close to Ohio State, but we know it can get better. It's happened at Vanderbilt. At South Florida. Boise State has become a power. Several others at least have shown a pulse rate.
"And very few have what San Diego State has to offer, not in climate, not in facilities and not in location, where the university, at which academics has improved dramatically, sits in an oil field of football talent, where it's one of but three that play large-school football in Southern California.
"There's something wrong. Don't tell me there isn't."