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Jeff Long's "Disappointment"

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"Guys With Problems."
"Guys With Problems."

One thing that we did not know about Jeff Long until last week, to be honest, was whether he had the capacity and temerity to address a genuine crisis. Firing John Pelphrey wasn't really all that hard, in retrospect: the guy's performance left plenty to be desired and there was no question that cutting bait was proper under the circumstances.

Now that Bobby Petrino has been exposed as an unskilled motorcyclist and an even less adept accident reconstructionist, Long has been put right in the crosshairs. The elephant won't stay in the room for long. He has to either finish Petrino off or help rehabilitate the beloved but disgraced coach with well-measured penalties.

Long used few descriptive words in a press conference that now seems a distant memory. The most telling one was "disappointment," which he mostly used to characterize Petrino's conduct but, by implication, was also the genuine sentiment he probably feels toward his own job right now.

He was disappointed that on a quiet Thursday night in April, he was having to speak candidly to the media at a hastily-cobbled press conference, about an issue that should have never become one. He was disappointed that the football program's unparalleled upward trajectory was being threatened by something so selfish and inherently absurd. He was disappointed that he was going to have to imperil future contributions to the program, one way or another, by making an eventual decision that will assuredly have lots of detractors and significant ripples for years to come.

I have grown to respect Long even more than I anticipated as this bizarre story has languished the past few days. He is taking his time, which is admirable and perhaps augurs well for Petrino (because, let's be honest, if this incident had done so much damage to the relationship and the university, the escape hatch would presumably have been opened a lot earlier). He is also pretty clearly assessing the damage, short- and long-term, and trying to determine just how to balance Petrino's successes against the gravity of this incident.

Whatever he decides, I think I will support it. Unless, you know, he fires Bobby to bring Houston back.