The 2015 Sports Business Journal Athletics Director of the Year has been fired. Jeff Long, former chair of the College Football Playoff committee and leader of the Arkansas Razorback athletic program since 2008, was given his walking papers by Chancellor Joseph Steinmetz Wednesday.
Long’s contract, which runs through 2022, will be honored according to a release from the University.
The University of Arkansas will be in search of only its third athletic director in 52 years.
As for head football coach Bret Bielema, the writing could be on the wall as it pertains to his future in Fayetteville. Bo Mattingly, statewide sports radio host in Arkansas, believes this is the end of the road.
“It looks like Bret Bielema is going to coach the next two games at Arkansas and his departure is imminent, based on the conversations I’ve had,” Mattingly told his audience on Wednesday.
It has never clicked at Arkansas for the former Wisconsin head coach. After leading the Badgers to three straight Rose Bowl appearances in his final three seasons, Bielema tried to implement a Big 10 offense in the SEC and has failed. In his five years as leader of the Hogs, a 29-32 overall record has the natives restless. His 11-27 record in the SEC is unacceptable.
As it stands, Arkansas sits at 4-6 overall with its lone conference win coming over Ole Miss. Oddly enough, it could be Ole Miss that has kept his job safe this long; Bielema should thank the Rebels he’s not 7-31 in the conference.
Should Bielema take the Razorbacks bowling, he must record wins over both Mississippi State and Missouri – games in which Arkansas figures to be the underdog. Lose either one and Arkansas would miss a bowl game.
As for a buyout, it is steep, but not as steep as has been reported. Bielema signed a six-year contract that pays him $4.25 million a year. Should he be fired, Arkansas is believed to be on the hook for just shy of $6 million, not the previously-reported $15.4 million.
As is often the case with reporters chasing a story without being able to see the actual document – or possessing a law degree to understand it – the exact amount of Bielema’s buyout has been a source of confusion.
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