As an orator, he is no less tough to crack, refusing to yield to questions intended to build things up bigger than need be.
So when asked about the magnitude of his team's 41-27 win over host Air Force on Thursday night, a pairing of programs that entered the evening with identical marks of 3-2 overall and 0-1 in Mountain West play, Long's reply hardly arrived as a revelation.
"If you're asking me if this game was any more important than any other," he said, "no, it wasn't."
If I beg to differ, it's only because I've witnessed enough Aztec muggings at the hands of the Falcons to be called as a material witness. I also know that given SDSU's loss to TCU in its Mountain West opener, failing to answer the bell at the Academy likely would have left the Aztecs with one foot in the out door.
Instead, SDSU headed home with a bye week on the docket and a home date with Wyoming on Oct. 29. Indeed, if it was a win that carried no additional significance, selling such sentiment to Air Force would be folly. The Falcons are 0-2 for the first time in MW history and now must make their way to Boise State, where the league's new kids on the block, currently No. 5 in the Associated Press poll, are a mere 71-2 at home since 2000.
"Where do we go from here? We've run through a pretty good stretch of pretty sturdy opponents," said Air Force coach Troy Calhoun. "What we've got to do as a team, the biggest thing is, you've got to pull together. We've got a group, a group of players and a group of coaches, that will do that well."
If it was just another day at the office where Long was concerned, it was no less standard operating procedure on the part of a certain sophomore running back.
Ronnie Hillman, who is threatening to run through the Aztecs' record book before his uniform comes back from the cleaners, posted his fifth 100-yard rushing performance in six games this season. In 18 career contests, Hillman, who finished with 172 yards on 27 carries, has exceeded 150 yards nine times.
As with all backs, who ultimately reduce adjectives to rubble, Hillman is suggestive of a boxer with ring savvy beyond his years, constantly probing the soft spots before hauling off with a haymaker. Of his final rushing total, 113 yards came in the second half. In the fourth quarter, with SDSU nursing a 27-20 advantage, Hillman scored on runs of 22 and 57 yards in a span of 1:48.
And while Long has sung Hillman's praises enough this season to give his larynx reason for a leave of absence, the Aztecs' first-year coach on Thursday night was no less flattering of his defense, which limited the nation's No. 2-ranked rushing offense (364.2 yards per game) to 195 yards on the ground.
"I think that's the best defense I've seen against the triple option of any team I've ever been associated with," said Long, who also serves as SDSU's defensive coordinator and did more than his share of scheming against Air Force during 11 seasons as head coach at New Mexico. "It's not always a pleasure going against that offense. We've had some success, but we've also had some games where they blew us right out of the park."
On Thursday night, such was not the case. Important? Immeasurably. Imperative? That, too.