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Tuesday, July 31, 2018

An overview of what’s in store as Jeff Long officially moves into AD office at KU

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.

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.

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One of the big reasons Jeff Long decided to take the job as Kansas athletic director was the opportunity to address and improve KU’s struggling football program.

If he had it his way, Long probably would be attending a football game tomorrow, shaking hands with donors, welcoming fans to Memorial Stadium and hoping year four of the David Beaty era gets off to a strong start.

But KU’s quest for an increased win total and stadium renovations will have to wait for another day. Long has to get settled in first.

Wednesday is Long’s first day on the job. And while that might sound exciting and worthy of some kind of official recognition, day one figures to be pretty tame.

Think, setting up his office, learning how to log in to the KU computer system and seeing how many names and faces he can remember from his one-day KU experience back on July 11.

Although his family spent part of the time between then and now on vacation at Yellowstone National Park, there’s little doubt that Long spent at least some of that time learning as much as he could about the KU athletic department.

Anything he did, whether it was looking over numbers, talking to current and former employees or simply reading what has been written, will give him a head start on his new gig.

But the bonus time is over. The race begins now. And, from the sound of it, Long is raring to go. With that in mind, let’s take a quick look at five areas of the job that might be at or near the top of Long’s priority list as he officially begins his time as KU’s newest AD.

1. Heavy football evaluation – The timing could not be better for Long, who will be starting his job the same week that Beaty and company get preseason camp underway. The next few weeks figure to feature a mixture of Long watching practice in person, watching from a distance and meeting with Beaty one-on-one to get a better feel for the state of Kansas football. But conducting that kind of evaluation at the outset of a brand new season is a huge advantage and gives Long a real shot at a thorough evaluation of exactly where things stand today.

2. Staff organization – This one could take some time. And, from the sound of things, Long is not coming to KU planning to send people packing right away. But any time an organization goes through a change in leadership, history has shown that some people leave and new faces arrive. Long has as long as he wants and needs to determine exactly how his staff is organized. But the guess here is that he’ll want to tweak the most important parts of it sooner rather than later.

3. Get to know KU’s donors – A fair amount of this probably already has taken place. And Long’s first few weeks are going to be full of meetings. Heck, day one will be one big, extended meeting, with names and faces changing but the agenda being the same — helping Long get the lay of the land. But some of the most important meetings he will have during this transition to Kansas will be with the people KU needs to open their checkbooks to help Long get football going again. An AD or head coach’s time at a university can be made or broken on his relationships with donors. And while Long’s contract dictates that he will have plenty of time to build real relationships with these folks, his opportunity to make a good first impression will only be around a little while.

4. Observe and learn – While Long no doubt has a vision for what he wants the Kansas athletic department to look like under his watch, moving too quickly on any of that could be a mistake. One of the best things Long could do for a while is to sit back and listen, observe how things run now and learn from it. People often are eager to talk in great detail with the new guy about their thoughts on how things run — or should run — and what they think could be done to improve things for the future. Let them. Just about everyone Long comes in contact with during his first few months on the job will know a lot more about KU and its history, as well as its strengths, weaknesses and needs than Long. Talk about valuable resources to help get the train rolling.

5. Start moving on a softball hire – Last week, KU softball coach Megan Smith left Kansas to take the head coaching job at Marshall. So don’t be surprised for a second if Long’s first official coaching hire comes from softball. Although the 2019 season is still several months away and Rich Wieligman is in place as the program’s interim head coach, identifying the right person to move that program forward surely will demand some of Long’s early attention. Remember, Long is a man who considers himself “an all-sports guy,” and he’s not going to let one of his programs operate in the dark for too long without a plan for the future. Although Long’s softball hire might not offer any hints about what he will do with future hires, it’s worth paying attention to in case any philosophical clues emerge.

Comments

[''] 2 months, 3 weeks ago

Tasks: #1 - Sharpen pencils. 2 - Fire football and WBB coach. 3 - Attend parade in your honor.

Waylon Cook 2 months, 3 weeks ago

Bonnie, your meds are off again.

Will you watch KU in the NCAA's from Cali or will you be on site?

[''] 2 months, 3 weeks ago

Nice try Waylie. HAHAHA. If you think KU will make the tourney -- YOU are taking too many meds. Step away from the bong dude.

Barry Weiss 2 months, 3 weeks ago

My guess there is a 50-50 chance Beaty will be gone before the season starts, 75% chance he is gone by the end of game 2 and 100% chance he is gone by conference play. Sorry Beaty fan boys, that is just me being realistic.

John Fitzgerald 2 months, 3 weeks ago

I don't think Beaty is cut out for the job either but I'd say there's about a .5% chance he's fired before the season. And that's being modest. He'll at least get to coach game one. But after that the rest is on him.

Chris DeWeese 2 months, 3 weeks ago

While I agree that Beaty's days are likely numbered, Long has made it pretty clear he wants to observe and evaluate the football program before making any sweeping changes. How long that will take is anybody's guess, but I wouldn't be surprised to see Beaty gone before conference play begins. If he goes 1-2 or worse, he's gone. If he goes 2-1 or better, he stays. If he then loses at Baylor, he's gone.

Mike Hart 2 months, 3 weeks ago

Barry, speculative drivel. There is a zero% chance Beaty is gone before the season starts. During the year? That could happen... prior to season? Absolutely not. Kind of hard for new AD to assess the football program... any any progress the program has made... before the season even begins. Weak...

Barry Weiss 2 months, 2 weeks ago

we will see Mike. Keep in mind that there was no real reason to fire Zinger if a change at HC was not the goal.

John Fitzgerald 2 months, 3 weeks ago

The only way Long fires Beaty before the season is if he finds that Beaty is doing something seriously wrong or corrupt within the program or if Beaty gives Long any blow back through his evaluation of the program. I don't see any of those being an issue so Beaty will at least be allowed to coach the first three non-con games. This is a very tough position for Long though because it's so late in the process and he only has so much time to evaluate Beaty until the season starts. It's difficult firing a coach mid season and even more difficult to fire him before the season even starts especially this late in the off season. Either way Beaty didn't earn his fourth year, but lets see if he can prove he belongs since he'll at least get a chance at it.

Adam Engelbrecht 2 months, 3 weeks ago

We know who Beaty is. He isn't corrupt or doing things inherently "wrong." He's just not cut out to coach a B12 team to success in 2018. That's the long and short of it. The only way I see something happening before Long sees a few games is if he gets fed up with Beaty's insistence that things are going well, when they clearly are not (which includes practice time observation and the like).

Robert Brock 2 months, 3 weeks ago

Should be an interesting basketball season.

Marcia Parsons 2 months, 3 weeks ago

How can you hope to get a good replacement coach mid-season?

Mike Hart 2 months, 3 weeks ago

You can't... you merely get an earlier formal, public headstart on the search for a new head coach

Randy Bombardier 2 months, 3 weeks ago

Right now if anything will cause the new ad to pull the trigger it will be to jumpstart recruiting. Me thinks that out there recruits are thinking its inevitable. It might just beg the question.

Mike Hart 2 months, 3 weeks ago

Yeah.. it jumpstarts recruiting to have a vacant head coaching position? smh...

Chris Bailey 2 months, 2 weeks ago

I think he means they will know Beaty won't be there. They won't have to speculate on that.

Conrad 'Cory' Miller 2 months, 2 weeks ago

With a GRAND TOTAL of 2 commits and a de-commitment today that a new coach would do any worse?

Steven Haag 2 months, 2 weeks ago

I have no doubt that there are quite a few recruits that would have committed to KU if they knew that Beaty’s job was secure. The fact that they don’t, they are holding back. If he is let go, my guess is that many will go elsewhere.

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