If you’ve been anywhere near twitter this morning, you’ve seen the news that Arkansas is in search of a new athletic director, as Jeff Long is out at Arkansas.
BREAKING: AD Jeff Long is out at #Arkansas per multiple sources.— Bruce Feldman (@BruceFeldmanCFB) November 15, 2017
The move has come a week after a Board of Trustees meeting went hours past their schedule but no action was taken. So far there isn’t confirmation on the details of his leaving but it appears was he was fired and that stemmed from the meeting.
The obvious part of this is that this is the end of any hope Bret Bielema had of staying on as Arkansas coach past this year. When an administrator, especially the one that hired you, is gone mid season. That’s never a good sign for you and your job security.
Long has been AD since 2008 and has played part in some key moments in Arkansas history. He hired Bobby Petrino who took Arkansas to the Sugar Bowl and Cotton Bowl. He then fired Petrino after the incident in 2012 where Petrino lied about having his mistress with him during his motorcycle accident, who he had also improperly hired as an assistant. Long then hired Bielema, and despite his very good resume at Wisconsin, it didn’t work out and Arkansas is 29-32 so far in that time.
He also brought Mike Anderson back to Fayetteville and Nolan Richardson’s return to Razorback basketball games was largely due to the efforts of Long. He was also the first chairman of the College Football Playoff committee and is very widely respected by his peers and who worked with him. A recent anonymous survey by Bruce Feldman listed him in the top 10.
Long out at as AD at Arkansas. Reminder that both media and other ADs had him as a top 10 AD nationally in Bruce Feldman’s anonymous survey. pic.twitter.com/0Dh7pZK9HK— Mark Ennis (@MarkEnnis) November 15, 2017
While there is a lot of anger towards both Bielema and Long for this football season, the impact Long had on the athletic department in terms of facilities, and prioritizing student athletes’ well-being shouldn’t be forgotten. Long clearly made a point to improve the student athlete experience at Arkansas and looks to have been largely successful at that. Many current and former student athletes have already taken to twitter to voice their appreciation for him.
The timing of Long’s departure also complicates who will make the hire of next football coach. With so many high profile SEC jobs open this year, having the leadership of the athletic department be so up in the air seems, um, less than ideal. The only certain thing in Arkansas athletics over the next couple of months is that a lot of change is on the horizon.