FAYETTEVILLE – Like that old carpet stain that never quite lifts, the Jeff Long era continues staining University of Arkansas Razorbacks athletics.
Seems one of Long’s lingering lagging legacies may resurface in court.
Long was Arkansas Athletic Director from 2008 until finally fired in 2017. Those Long 10 years seemed often spent trying to undo most what iconic predecessor Arkansas Athletic Director Frank Broyles had in place.
Hard to imagine Broyles offering the ridiculously inflated buyout that Long proffered to then second-year football Coach Bret Bielema for beating a bad Texas Longhorns team in the 2014 Texas Bowl in Houston.
Bielema did improve the Hogs from his 3-9 overall/0-8 in the SEC first year of 2013 to 7-6, 2-6 in 2014 capped with the 31-7 trashing of Texas sealing the Longhorns’ 6-7 losing record.
His 2015 Hogs finished 8-5, 5-3 in the SEC and beat Kansas State in the Liberty Bowl.
Then Sam Pittman, his excellent offensive line coach and since last December Arkansas’ head coach, departed to coach the Georgia line. Bielema’s 2016 team that started 7-4 closed 7-6 losing 24-point first-half leads and skidding second half scoreless losing to Missouri and Virginia Tech.
From those two Debbie downers the Bielema era never re-upped. He was fired with the Hogs 4-8, 1-7 for 2017.
Long was canned shortly before Bielema. But the $11.95 million buyout Long bestowed Bielema remained to be paid through 2020.
Now comes the dispute headed for court with Bielema suing the Razorback Foundation.
The UA had ceased payments citing belief that Bielema had not contractually tried to find suitable employment. In 2018 accepted a consulting job with the New England Patriots for a salary just under what would have gone towards negating some of the buyout.
Now the New York Giants outside linebacker coach after coaching the Patriots’ defensive line in 2019, Bielema Friday filed suit for what he maintains is $7.025 million compensatory remained owed plus court costs, attorney fees, etc.
A lesser buyout presumably would have caused all more quickly and easily coming to terms.