Does Hiring Jeff Long mean Kansas is Serious About Football?
So, the nation's worst Division I Football program went out and hired themselves a new Athletic Director this week and already pundits and so many others are speculating on what it all will mean for the University of Kansas.
Jeff Long, formerly the AD at Arkansas will take over the job in Lawrence, Kansas---a job open since the Jayhawks fired Sheahon Ziegler back in May.
Long doesn't really have much work to do with the Kansas Basketball program which is a perennial powerhouse ranked in the Top 10 year in and year out. The Jayhawks faithful pack Allen Fieldhouse for every game and Coach Bill Self is considered one of the country's best. (There are a few issues I'll get into in a minute).....
The Football program is a different story. Totally different.
The Jayhawks have been easily one of the if not THE worst College Football team playing in the FBS. They've not been in the Top 25 since 2009 and last played in a bowl game during the 2008 season under former Head Coach Mark Mangino, who was the last coach to have any modicum of success.
They've not won more than 3 games in a season since 2009 and are 3-23 for the past 3 seasons under current Head Coach David Beaty by all accounts a nice man who inherited a mess he's been unable to fix.
For his part, Long has a very interesting deal/contract according to reports. It includes what appears to be a clause allowing him a "Contract Extension" if the team is put on probation or has an issue with the NCAA.
This issue comes up for a reason: The vaunted Basketball program has been connected---somewhat directly to the current "Sneaker-Gate" issues surrounding College Basketball. There are multiple allegations Self's program was part of the system that had sneaker companies paying to get kids come play at their own schools.
No, this has not been officially proven--and my guess is this will end up as nothing more than a slap on the wrist, but it is really interesting Long---and his agent managed to slip this in to his $1.5 million deal.
Now---all that being said, there are number of other issues he is faced with as well. Before leaving, Ziegler announced a multiple million dollar expansion of David Booth Memorial Stadium and a massive upgrade to the football facilities. This for a program that can't possibly be bringing in much revenue.
Rumors of a coaching change are already flying less than 24-hours after Long accepted the job. The "Insiders" are already wondering if former Arkansas Head Coach Bret Bielema will be following his former boss to the plains of Kansas.
Maybe he will.
It certainly couldn't hurt---if----if Long could convince Bielema to take the job. Kansas isn't exactly a "Destination" job for well, just about anyone other than a young coach looking to make a name for themselves by rebuilding the program.
Maybe Bielema will come. If he does, I'd expect to see a more competitive program. Even if he doesn't, I suspect Long will convince someone with some experience and/or reputation to come in and run the program--trying to make some improvements.
Which means Beaty is done. It's just a matter of time. He may get the 2018 season, only because practice starts in less than a month. I would almost say it would be a huge gamble/risk to make a change at this time of the year as coaches need to time to settle and get acclimated.
But really, if you think about it---how much could it hurt? It's not like the Jayhawks are expected to compete for the Big 12 or any other title (maybe the Bottom of the Barrel trophy for a 3rd time) in 2018. So it is not out of the question that Long blows it up now and gives a new regime an opportunity to start building now....instead of the Jayhawks football program being a laughingstock for yet another crappy season....