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KU AD Jeff Long plenty confident he can hire a quality replacement for Les Miles, but should he be allowed to?

New University of Kansas athletic director Jeff Long addresses those gathered for his introductory news conference on Wednesday, July 11, 2018 at the Lied Center Pavilion. To his left is University of Kansas Chancellor Douglas Girod and at his right is former

New University of Kansas athletic director Jeff Long addresses those gathered for his introductory news conference on Wednesday, July 11, 2018 at the Lied Center Pavilion. To his left is University of Kansas Chancellor Douglas Girod and at his right is former by Nick Krug

Plenty was made, in 2018, about University of Kansas Athletic Director Jeff Long so quickly zeroing in on Les Miles and conducting yet another KU coaching search with Miles as the shiny, fancy focal point.

Today, with Miles and KU parting ways in the wake of allegations of sexual harassment during Miles’ days at LSU, Long wholeheartedly believes he is the right man to find a quality replacement for the Kansas program he oversees.

The question is how many others share that belief?

What’s more, how many people not named Long, or directly employed by him, want him to be the guy in charge of finding Miles’ replacement?

Long was asked on Tuesday if he was worried about the status of his job. He plowed ahead with an answer about continuing to support KU's student-athletes, saying, "my focus is on them."

Wise move. It may be best to operate with blinders on from this point forward, focusing only on mending what so quickly became broken and not worrying about what's being said elsewhere.

KU fans have not been shy about sharing their feelings about Long this week. Social media sites and message boards are currently filled with frustrated fans venting in vain and telling Long, at best, thanks but no thanks, and, at worst, to get lost.

But KU fans do not sign Long’s checks. So as long as the powers that be at the university share Long’s belief that he is the right man for the job — and to this point we haven't heard otherwise — Long will move forward with what he dubs “a national search” for Miles’ replacement armed with the same set of qualifications that allowed him to make the Miles hire in the first place.

The third-year KU AD was happy to share those during a 25-minute Zoom news conference on Tuesday during which he answered questions about the state of the program and defended the vetting he did before hiring Miles.

Long touted that he had been involved with college football “my entire professional life” and also pointed out that he worked at a number of different institutions and conferences and in college football “in many different ways.”

All of that is true. And it certainly could help. But it also did not stop him from hiring Miles a couple of years ago or from making a couple of hires at Arkansas (Bobby Petrino and Bret Bielema) that, at least in part, led to his dismissal there, nearly one year to the day before he hired Miles at Kansas.

“I'm confident in my knowledge, I'm confident in my experience and I have no doubt that we can find the next great leader for KU,” said Long, who will have the assistance of a search firm this time around.

Missing on a KU football hire is nothing new here. Both of Long’s predecessors, Lew Perkins and Sheahon Zenger, did it. But the fact that Long, unlike those two, was hired almost exclusively to fix football makes the mess the program is in today all the more troubling.

Long arrived in Lawrence with darn near nowhere to go but up. And yet in just under three years, and without trying, he has added his name to the conversation about those who are responsible for the demise of Kansas football in the post-Mark Mangino era.

Long may not be the guy who ran off Mangino to hire Turner Gill. And he didn’t hire Charlie Weis or David Beaty either. But one could argue that the embarrassment brought to the program because of Miles — over something that took place at another school — is worse than the losses that piled up in rapid fashion under Gill, Weis and Beaty.

Oh, and it’s not as if the losses suddenly disappeared while Miles was here either. Rebuilding or not, going 3-18 in two seasons is bad even by Kansas football standards.

So that brings us to today, with Kansas yet again looking for another football coach — its fifth since 2010 — and support for the program dwindling.

When asked Tuesday if he was concerned that the donor dollars to fund his plans for Kansas football now may be harder to collect, or whether he was worried that support for the program could be tougher than ever to conjure up, Long said he looked forward to having “open and candid” conversations with donors and fans alike about the program’s future.

He'll need to do that and more to win back the trust and faith of the KU fan base. After all, as Long pointed out on Tuesday: "We need their support more than ever."

Winning, of course, would take care of all of that. In a hurry. But, as wild as it is to say this, Kansas has never seemed quite so far away from winning as it does today.

What’s more — and this part’s even crazier — the lopsided ratio of losses to wins since 2010 doesn’t even seem to be the most important thing affecting this program’s future right now.

Can’t get any worse, right? How many times have we heard KU fans predict that one?

Better yet, how many more times will we have to hear it?

Comments

Dale Rogers

I don't understand how we can blame someone who had no way to know about the Les Miles thing at LSU. Nothing public, nothing to be found in a search/vetting investigation. The right questions asked and answered. Matt, I assume you hired Benton. Should Benton someday be found to have done something that's not on any public record, and he lied to you about it, is it your fault? Should you be fired?

If it is found that Long knew about the LSU situation and covered it up, totally different story. But there is absolutely nothing there, so far, that says that is the case. Not yet, anyhow.

As for a quick hire. If you know someone you feel is an outstanding reporter, you bring them in, do the due diligence vetting, then hire them.... then there is no need to spend a lot of time on a national search, right? You found someone you believe can do the job and all the dots and crosses line up perfectly. So, if your hire later is found to have covered up something that would have kept you from hiring him, why should the fact of the quick find and hire be reason to fire you?

If Long is shown to have covered this up, then can him. Until them, leave him alone to do his job. All this media blowup is just hurting recruiting and damaging the chance to keep our good players and commits onboard.

1 month, 1 week ago

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Doug Horn

Dale, the Miles situation is strike three for Long. Strike One: Call Adidas a booster so that the NCAA will hear the DeSousa appeal. Strike Two: Mis-handled the firing of Beaty, ended up costing more the $3 Million in the contract after settlement, attorney fees and the dirty laundry that was put on display for the NCAA to record for future use against us. Strike Three: Hired Miles. He either knew about this or he didn't. Either way he should have known.

1 month, 1 week ago

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David Friend

Doug you are spot on. He really has botched up on the administrative side of things and that his job.

1 month, 1 week ago

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Dale Rogers

Doug, I agree with the one about Beaty. That was sorely mishandled. As for Adidas, you may recall the NCAA said the ONLY way they would consider Silvio's appeal is if KU stated Adidas is a booster. KU did so for that reason and that reason only and they also stated the reason they were calling them a booster. Then the NCAA turned around and used it against KU. As for Miles, I don't agree Long should have known, not if he is correct that Miles said there is nothing in his past Long should be concerned about. We have seen several times in various articles that The Advocate and USA Today found absolutely nothing about Miles anywhere until LSU finally released their documentation. They had to sue LSU to get that. So, should Long have sued LSU to see if they had anything about Miles he should know about? Who else should he have sued, just in case there was something? Those are the reasons I think Long is not at fault for two of the three situations you listed. We cannot start pronouncing guilt without some kind of proof.

1 month, 1 week ago

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Doug Horn

Dale, I remember that the NCAA said that the only way they would hear the appeal was if KU stated that Adidas is a booster. I may not be an AD at a Power 5 Conference School, but I can tell you that I would have never agreed to that. Long is supposed to know what he is doing and he didn't appear to understand that the NCAA was up to something. The court of public opinion on Silvio's punishment agreed with KU. Dickie V and other sports broadcasters said the punishment was too much. KU should have published the request from the NCAA on the internet and ask the NCAA to explain why they were punishing this young man.

All I am saying is that this is the third time something bad has happened under his watch. And with the Miles issue that is strike three!

1 month, 1 week ago

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Dale Rogers

I have to agree with you on the booster thing. I felt the same way at the time. But I did not think of going public with it but that sounds like the better way to go, especially in hindsight.

1 month, 1 week ago

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Blake Brown

IMHO, he should be Long gone. My Arkansas friends reminded me today, "he is probably the only AD of a Power 5 program that has hired 2 football coaches that seemed to have inappropriate issues with blonde female college students". Also, these same friends warned me about Long being alll about the money and not being fan sensitive when it comes to making decisions that involve them such as the sell out for the ESPN+ deal that was only about the money at the expense of the type of quality coverage that Kansas nation deserves 100% of the time.

1 month, 1 week ago

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Doug Horn

Blake, so Long is the one that made me pay to watch KU games? Or was that the conference? I don't know?

1 month, 1 week ago

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Blake Brown

As I understand it, Long made the decision to go for the money package being offered from ESPN+ as opposed to other options that included one we have previously had, the ESPN Full Court package which would have allowed for viewing the games for an annual fee on regular TV. The benefit would have been that we could record in advance and save personally selected games and at the same time have the ability to FF, RW, Slo Mo with ease and precision and not be subjected to some of the terrible, uninformed announcers. The nominal monthly fee we pay for ESPN+ is much less than that package would have been. I'd gladly have paid more as I have in the past. When Long put out a message that basically stated there would be no difference in the quality of the coverage, that tells me a lot about how little he cares and identifies him as a "casual" fan and he is or was the AD!

1 month, 1 week ago

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Dale Rogers

Any idea whether there was an option for those games to be televised if KU chose not to use espn+? Since it is "Big 12 Now" on espn+, it sounds as if the conference made it available and possibly each school could choose whether to use espn+. But I really don't know.

1 month, 1 week ago

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Brett McCabe

As Matt points out, Long also hired Motorcycle Bobbie, and a Big Ten coach with no southern connections to run an SEC program.

Recent past is the best predictor of the near future, and I don’t want Long anywhere near this hire.

In addition to all of the reasons stated above, do you think that Long is thinking clearly right now? With everything swirling around him, will coaches run away? Girod needs to make the move right now.

One note on falling interest in the program. Some of the coaches who I have seen mentioned seem to be imminently qualified but I think that one, Jeff Monken, could actually juice the fan base.

I think KU fans would embrace the triple option and really get behind the Monken way. Just trying to find another coach to try and out recruit Texas, OU and now ISU is an approach that is fraught with danger. Monken wins with 2-star athletes.

And, other than a Sayers run or a Riggins rumble, the triple option is the single most beautiful thing in football.

1 month, 1 week ago

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Bryce Landon

Let's see, Long was the one who thought bringing Bobby Petrino to Arkansas was a good idea - how did that work out? And then he thought bringing Les Miles to Kansas was a good idea - how did that work out? Long is more about flashy names and making headlines than about doing what's best for whatever program he happens to be working at at a given time.

Long is a lolcow. KU football is a lolcow. They deserve each other.

ON IOWA!

1 month, 1 week ago

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Dale Rogers

After some of the things I read last night in the Star (internal strife on the staff) I now have to agree it's best Long is gone. However, I will not fault him for something a coach does after being hired. As for Petrino, for example, should Long, or ANY AD, have been able to predict that Petrino, a married man, would have a motorcycle accident with his mistress behind him? If any AD could predict that, I want him//her for my financial advisor.

1 month, 1 week ago

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