Originally published September 1, 2010 at 12:00a.m., updated September 1, 2010 at 09:16a.m.


Long’s debut one for the books


Grandparents tend only to see the good in their offspring’s offspring, yet for Kansas University offensive coordinator Chuck Long, one day 28 Septembers ago even his grandmother couldn’t think of anything more encouraging to tell him than to suggest quitting.

Long can laugh now about a messy-in-every way college starting debut in his red-shirt freshman season in 1982.

Legendary Iowa football coach Hayden Fry inherited a program that had 17 consecutive losing seasons, a number that grew to 19 when Fry turned it around in 1981 with an 8-4 record, the biggest victory a 10-7 upset of Nebraska in Iowa City.

Looking back, Long called that “Hayden Fry’s signature win to get Iowa off and running.”

The next season, Long’s collegiate debut came against the revenge-driven Cornhuskers in Lincoln. The Huskers had Long’s current boss, Turner Gill, at quarterback.

Long said it was 110 degrees on the field and “you could see waves of heat,” coming off of the Astroturf.

“I thought I needed a lot of energy for that game so I ate everything in the pregame meal,” he said. “I ate everything in sight, just to store up some food and some energy to get me through that hot day. Middle of the fourth quarter, we’re getting beat, 42-7, Nebraska’s pounding us pretty good. I’ve been sacked a bunch of times. I’ve been hit all over the place and I call timeout because I’m not so well.”

Long said Fry always wore white shoes and white pants on the sidelines, “kind of a good-luck outfit.”

“I call timeout and he’s upset with me,” Long said. “He wants to get the clock rolling. I go over there and throw up all over his white pants and all over his shoes and he benched me right on the spot: ‘Get out. Go sit the bench.’ I often tell quarterbacks that story. Hey, nowhere to go but up.”

Gill rushed for 40 yards and threw for 144 yards and two touchdowns. Long had negative-yardage rushing totals, threw for 31 yards and was sacked three times.

Oh well, at least Long’s family was on hand for the debut to support him.

“I came out and my grandmother said, ‘Hey, Chuck, you don’t have to play this game anymore. You don’t have to do this.’ I said, ‘Hey, Gram, this is only my first game.’ They were all so upset they didn’t want me to play anymore,” Long said, laughing.

No fool, Fry forgave the guy who went on to become the best quarterback in Iowa history, throwing 22 consecutive completions in one game and six touchdowns in another as a junior and finishing second to Bo Jackson in the Heisman Trophy balloting as a senior.

Unlike Long, KU redshirt sophomore Kale Pick won’t be facing one of the nation’s top teams when he makes his first college start. He’ll face Division I-AA foe North Dakota State. Still, with Georgia Tech on the schedule in Week 2, Pick has the potential to suffer growing pains early and he won’t have to look far to know things can get a great deal better.

Long remembers when he was young, but he can’t claim to have experience coaching so much youth.

“Probably as young as I’ve been with in my years of coaching in overall experience on the offensive side,” Long said.


Cal Bender 8 years, 5 months ago

We seem to hear a lot about some of our new coaches college playing careers. I'd like to hear more about the coaching careers, experience and successes they bring to KU.

Jeff Coffman 8 years, 5 months ago

I'm not sure that will be a good idea.

Turner is 20-30 in the MAC. I believe that Long was in San Diego and didn't have as good of a record as that, in fact I think he is still getting paid for the stint. I can't remember, but Torbush's career as a HC was much better.

I guess we could go to their coordinating jobs. I live in Oklahoma, and they aren't to fond of Long's offensive coordinating when he was at OU.

justinryman 8 years, 5 months ago

Torbush was 20-26 as a head coach.

One coach does not make a team, just as one play or game make a season.

Jeffery Barrett 8 years, 5 months ago

good point, maxhawk, just proves he probably never should have become a head coach.

stravinsky 8 years, 5 months ago

About Chuck Long as a position coach and OC, from Wiki...

"Long was an assistant on the Oklahoma team that claimed the 2000 Bowl Championship Series national title. He coached quarterback Josh Heupel to a second place finish in the Heisman Trophy balloting that year.

After the 2001 season, Long was promoted to Oklahoma's offensive coordinator position. Oklahoma won the Rose Bowl following the 2002 season, and in 2003, the Sooners set a Big 12 Conference record by averaging 51.5 points per game.

In 2004, Long was named as a finalist for the Broyles Award as the nation's top assistant coach. He was an assistant coach at Oklahoma for six seasons, including four as an offensive coordinator, and Oklahoma compiled a 67–11 record during his time there."

Yeah, sounds like he did a pretty crappy job.

Jesse Newell 8 years, 5 months ago

Good catch. He's a sophomore. It's been fixed above.

KU_FanSince75 8 years, 5 months ago

Great, funny story. Funny how Gill played against long and, now, they are coaching together at KU.

justinryman 8 years, 5 months ago

So that is at least 5 National Championships just between Gill and Long while they were both asistant coaches. OK that is bad.

As for Oklahoma fans not liking Long while he was there...I find that hard to believe, the reason they don't like him was that he left. Just like they don't like Leach, Mangino or Mike Stoops either, I mean they all left after having pretty good careers under Bob Stoops, so that would be the only reason...bitterness.

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