Associated Press

Jeff Long issues extensive — and classy — statement in wake of firing as Arkansas AD

Leave a comment

Even after being unceremoniously shown the door, Jeff Long did as he’s always done — kept it classy.

After catching a bit of a reprieve late last week, word began to surface Wednesday morning that Long had been relieved of his duties as the athletic director at Arkansas.  Not long after, the university confirmed the development.

In his statement announcing the dismissal, chancellor Joseph Steinmetz praised Long’s character and integrity; in his own statement, the deposed showed just that as he thanked literally everyone connected to the athletic department he’s overseen for the last decade.

Below is Long’s goodbye to the Razorback family, presented in its very lengthy entirety:

My family and I would like to thank the University community, Fayetteville community, all of Northwest Arkansas, as well as the friends we have made across the great State of Arkansas.

My wife Fanny and I have raised two wonderful daughters in Fayetteville, one of which has her name etched in Senior Walk. For my family, this will always be home.

I want to thank our outstanding coaches for their efforts on behalf of our student-athletes. Our coaches are not only great teachers but also care deeply about our students and worked tirelessly to achieve our mission of assisting student-athletes in reaching their full potential through intercollegiate athletics. Winning was always an important part of our Mission, as was doing it the right way with honesty integrity and a focus on preparing our young athletes for the rest of their lives. Collectively, all of our coaches exemplified that mission.

In addition to our coaches, we have numerous support staff members who are outstanding in their own right, including operations, compliance, academics, nutrition, media relations, business, equipment, IT, strength & conditioning, psychologists, athletic trainers and team physicians etc. This list represents people who assist our student-athletes in competing and winning while keeping them safe, healthy and on track to reach the ultimate goal of graduation from the University of Arkansas.

To our facility and maintenance staff, I wish to say a heartfelt thank you for your dedicated service to our program. I travel to many campuses and I see firsthand other athletic departments and I know your work is second to none. I appreciate the pride you take in your work and it shows. I am sure you often feel your work goes unnoticed and unappreciated but I wanted you to know how much I notice and how much I appreciate your efforts!

I have been very fortunate to have the support of my incredible Executive and Senior Staffs made up of assistant, associate and senior associate athletic directors as well as my executive assistant. I cannot adequately express my deep appreciation for their efforts on behalf of our student-athletes and coaches. Their intelligence, energy and commitment motivated me to be the best I could be on a daily basis. These dedicated professionals were not just a part of the reason we have transformed our program, they are the reason! Thank you is not nearly enough to express my gratitude but it is the best I can offer at this time.

It has been an honor and a privilege to serve under four Chancellors during my 10 years of service and to participate on their executive staffs. I wish to thank Chancellor White, Chancellor Gearhart, President Sugg and Trustee Reed for believing that I could fill the formidable shoes of Coach Broyles and Bev Lewis. I will always be grateful for the incredible opportunity to come to the University of Arkansas; it has been a 10-year labor of love.

I would also like to thank Chancellor Steinmetz and President Bobbitt for their support during their tenures and especially over the past several weeks. I am grateful for having had the opportunity to work with you and wish you the best as you lead the Flagship Institution and the UA System.

Most of all, I want to offer a heartfelt thank you to the incredible student-athletes that I have had the sincere honor and privilege to support over my 10 years as Athletic Director. You truly are the most important piece of our program. Your success academically and athletically is beyond all else, the reason we have athletics in the University setting. Most people will never know the sacrifices you make to wear the cardinal and white. You literally push your bodies and minds to greater heights to achieve success for the Razorbacks! You have inspired me and lifted me up with your successes in and out of competition! The greatest gift an athletic administrator is given is watching as student-athletes arrive on campus and the growth that happens over the course of their education career. Four to five short years later, we all watch with abundant joy as they walk across the Graduation stage, diploma in hand and prepared to take on whatever in life comes their way!

And finally, I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to Razorback fans throughout our state and around the world. Your passion for this university and for this athletics program makes the University of Arkansas a very special place. I have said it on numerous occasions the Razorbacks need the entire State behind us to be successful in the SEC and nationally. I wish nothing but continued success for this program and this institution.

With regard to the media, I have always appreciated the job you do and understand your interest in speaking with me. However, I would like to take some time with my family to collect my thoughts before reflecting on my tenure here at the University of Arkansas.

Thank you for the opportunity to serve our University the last 10 years. It has been a true honor.

Willie Taggart making single-digit numbers at Florida State up for grabs in spring practice

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Spring practice for a new head coach brings tons of changes for a team as they get used to a new way of doing things. One of the bigger culture changes might be the transition Florida State is undergoing from Jimbo Fisher to Willie Taggart.

While rap music at practice and a quick tempo are noticeable, so too are the numbers players are wearing at practice. It seems there’s a reason behind that change as Taggart is making players earn single-digit numbers instead of being able to carry them over from last season.

“I know when I was growing up the single digits went to the dudes. That’s kind of how we want it,” the new head coach said, according to the Associated Press. “Not everyone can be a single digit. Getting it is being one of the best.”

Taggart, who was No. 1 when he played back in the day at Western Kentucky, is not playing favorites at all when it comes to stripping the single-digits from jerseys. According to the AP report, former five-star and current star running back Cam Akers was wearing No. 23 instead of the No. 4 he wore in 2017.

Credit to the sophomore as he said that he liked the tactic but that kind of thinking might change by the end of spring practice if he doesn’t get his number back.

Dan Mullen is running gassers with the Gators when Florida players miss class

Getty Images
1 Comment

If you’ve been a part of a football team at any level, chances are high that you are intimately familiar with running a gasser. Depending on how many you were forced to run, you might even have some traumatic memories of running down to the line and back.

New Florida head coach Dan Mullen is trying to instill a new culture in Gainesville with his first spring practice and one of the ways he’s trying to do that is establishing penalties for Gators players missing class. In a unique twist though, the coach isn’t just blowing the whistle and watching guys run up and down the field —  he’s joining them.

“Yeah, they weren’t real happy,” Mullen told 247Sports’ GatorBait site. “That was pretty simple, it’s about going to class. I don’t control that, they control that. If you’re late for class, everybody that’s late for class we run a gasser for. So if they don’t want to run gassers, then just show up on time for class and we don’t run gassers. We’ll get extra work in.

“I’m part of the team, so I should run the gassers too… Hey, if we make mistakes, we’re all going to pay the price. Whether it’s discipline issues, academic issues, football issues, training issues, we all pay the price. So I’m going to pay the price just like them.”

Not many head coaches would take the same path as Mullen but kudos to putting his hand in the dirt and running with his team. Something says a few of his players who struggled to get up and down the field were not to thrilled even if they had their head coach running alongside them though.

UNLV completes coaching staff with three new additions

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Wednesday, Tony Sanchez began the day with three holes on his UNLV coaching staff. By the close of business that day, they had all been filled.

UNLV has confirmed that Eric Brown, Steve Irvin and Garin Justice have officially been hired for on-field roles on Sanchez’s staff. Brown will serve as outside linebackers coach, Irvin as cornerbacks coach and Justice offensive line coach.

Justice, who comes to the Mountain West Conference program after spending the past two seasons at Florida Atlantic, will also carry the title of running-game coordinator. That stint at FAU was Justice’s first on-field job at the FBS level.

“We are fortunate to have brought in a very accomplished offensive line coach,” said Sanchez in prepared quotes distributed by the school. “Garin Justice is one of the top up-and-coming assistants in the country right now and did a great job building an elite offensive line at FAU.”

Brown spent the past five seasons in the same role at Idaho, while Irvin was the defensive coordinator at FCS San Diego the past five seasons.

“Steve was one of the up-and-coming young coordinators in the country,” Sanchez said. “He did a phenomenal job at USD, including helping his team get a big win over NAU in the first round of the playoffs last year. He has a lot of experience with cornerbacks, has recruited Texas before and is a UNLV and Eldorado alumnus, which are all plusses. …

“We are excited to bring in Eric Brown as our 10th assistant. He is a coach’s son with a lot of experience and energy that will help us improve on the defensive side of the ball.”

Brown is the son of the late longtime Fresno State assistant and coordinator Dan Brown.

After transferring from USC last year, E.J. Price tweets he’s leaving Kentucky too

Getty Images
1 Comment

No stranger to transfer, E.J. Price is embarking on a search for a new college home — again.  Whether football is involved, however, seemingly remains to be seen.

On his personal Twitter account Thursday morning, Price announced that he is “stepping away” from the Kentucky football program.  In the tweet, the offensive lineman stressed, in all-caps, that “I WAS NOT KICKED OFF I AM LEAVING.”

In a subsequent tweet. he stated it was “time for me to overcome football.”

Earlier this month, head coach Mark Stoops mentioned “some inconsistencies with [Price] that he needs to iron out.” In another tweet, the lineman stated the following:

Price was a four-star member of USC’s 2016 recruiting class, rated as the No. 8 offensive tackle in the country.  He transferred from USC to Kentucky in July of last year.

Because of NCAA transfer rules, Price was forced to sit out the 2017 season.