As most of you know Jeff Long, the former Arkansas AD, has officially been hired as the new University of Kansas AD. I knew he had been a candidate from the beginning so I’m not surprised by the hire, but what I am surprised by is the salary.
$1.5 million a year? Are we sure about that?
Long does bring with him over 20 years of experience and he’s definitely been successful at his previous stops. But what concerns me most is his last stint was cut short because of a football coach hire. I’m sure many people will argue that it was because he refused to fire Bielema and had he done so maybe things would be different. But let’s not forget that was his second football coach hire while he was at Arkansas. And the guy before, Bobby Petrino, didn’t exactly work out either. It wasn’t because of his coaching though, it was because he couldn’t keep his personal affairs in order.
It’s also worth bringing up that a few people have mentioned Long had tarnished relationships with Arkansas donors because he moved money from the baseball program to the football program. I can’t confirm whether this is true or not but two things KU needs from an AD is someone who has a strong eye for hiring quality coaches and someone who will maintain strong relationships with donors in order to finish the $350 million stadium renovation. Neither of these seemed to be his strong suit while at Arkansas.
But having said all of that there plenty of bright spots to think about for KU fans. While Jeff Long was at Arkansas the football program had a 64-59 record in the toughest conference in the nation. That’s much better than the 12-72 record Sheahon Zenger carried away with him. Also, Long was named the first chair of the college football playoff committee, meaning he’s well respected around the league. This could be huge in hiring the new football coach which could take place as early as his first day in August.
Overall, I do think this is a decent hire. Whether it’s a good hire or a great hire will be determined by how he handles the football program. I’m still not a fan of the salary he’s getting paid, but at least Kansas showed they’re willing to fork out the dough to be successful.
Also, some things we should keep an eye on during his first few days on campus…
- Does he fire Beaty or does he give him an evaluation period? If it were me I’d fire Beaty and let Tony Hull take over as interim. I think most Kansas fans know what they’re going to get from Beaty and it’s not much more than 3-33 in three years. It’s also important to note that Jeff Long is apparently friends with the currently unemployed Les Miles. Not that he’d even be an option as the next Kansas football coach but you never know.
- How and when will he approach the donors? And what will his pitch be to get the $350 million renovation back on track? The stadium won’t necessarily bring wins but it’ll keep us in line with the other Big 12 teams.
- How will he handle the Adidas scandal? I think this is an important question because even though he wasn’t here it’s officially his problem now. Will he see it as a priority to get the situation resolved and prevent further issues or will he put it on the back burner because it wasn’t a mess he caused?
I’m sure there are a billion and one other things he’ll need to set priorities on but those are the things I’ll be looking at first. Either way, I’m just hoping football comes out on top with this deal. We need an AD who truly takes football serious not just for my selfish reasons but for the University as a whole.