When news broke on Tuesday afternoon that two-year San Diego State head coach Brady Hoke accepted the Michigan coaching gig—after signing a five-year extension with SDSU just weeks before—the hearts of Aztec fans were shattered, the remaining pieces chewed up by a starving pack of wolverines.
It was like the feeling an 8-year-old child who just lost a tooth gets after discovering the tooth fairy doesn't exist.
Hoke was a superstar in San Diego.
He made Aztec football the most relevant sport in California south of Orange County, worthy of more positive attention than the Padres and the Chargers.
His short-term success recently prompted a single donor to put up $5 million to help SDSU improve the on-campus facilities so he would sign a contract extension.
Even longtime Aztec men's basketball coach Steve Fisher, who has led his team to a school-best No. 6 ranking in the most recent ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll, credited Hoke's success with the pigskin program as one of the main reasons why there has been so much hype surrounding the basketball team.
Hoke transformed SDSU football from a putrid program that could hardly fill half the seats at Qualcomm Stadium to a school-record setting, bowl-contending team.
SDSU went 9-4 this past season—Hoke's second on Montezuma Mesa—with all four defeats coming by a total of 15 points.
Each loss was to a ranked opponent, and three of the four were on the road.
He took the Aztecs to the Poinsettia Bowl—their first bowl appearance since 1998—where they destroyed Navy for their first bowl victory in 41 years.
Thus, you can understand why Aztec fans are likely mourning his departure.
But really, this isn't a time for Aztec fans to sit and sulk. Rather, it's a time to sing the praises of the Aztec god turned Michigan man.
Sure, he dined and ditched, but for the SDSU faithful, the meal was every bit worth it.
Hoke successfully planted the Aztec football seed in Southern California at a time when the other two predominant programs—USC and UCLA—are wilting.
Even without Hoke at the helm, the Aztecs will attract SoCal kids simply because they played in this year's postseason while the Trojans and Bruins were at home, playing with their Christmas presents.
And with defensive coordinator Rocky Long, who was the head coach at New Mexico for 11 years and is the school's all-time winningest coach, set to be promoted, the program will remain in fine shape.
At the very least, SDSU can stop thinking about terminating its football team like 19 of the other 22 Cal State universities have done.
You can contact Josh Hoffman at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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