Arkansas AD Jeff Long Addresses His Search for a New Head Coach
At a public appearance Wednesday at the NWA Touchdown Club, Arkansas Athletic Director Jeff Long addressed everything regarding Razorback football, the current staff and the direction of the program in the future.
He said he is behind head coach John L. Smith and his staff through this season no matter what happens.
“That’s something we made a commitment to in April, and we’re going to stand behind that commitment,” Long said.
After the season is over they will know what direction they are heading in finding a head coach, and it will be clear at that time Smith is a candidate for the position on a full-time, rather than interim, basis.
Long says he has a list of potential coaches in his head and will keep the search confidential in order to protect coaches who are currently with other schools.
Arkansas’s poor start could be seen as a hindrance in attracting a home-run hire, but Long doesn’t see it that way.
“I don’t think someone looks at one season,” he said. “They look at our ability to win and how we’ve built our program.”
As of right now, Long and his committee are conducting background research on potential coaches and looking at who might be interested. No contact has been made with potential coaches, and Long won’t address any individual names.
“Every week it changes with a win and a loss at another program,” he said. “There’s a broad pool of people,” meaning he is looking at multiple coaches and evaluating their seasons as they go along.
Long said coordinators currently in the NFL won’t be excluded from the search, but he needs to make sure they would be a solid fit for a college program.
“It would take a special person from the NFL to lead this program, but I have not eliminated those people from the candidate pool,” he said.
Long hasn’t determined if he wants to go after an offensive of defensive coach. The only thing that is important is that the coach is a total leader; someone who embraces high expectations and has as much of a passion for the Razorbacks as the players on the field, he said.
Long reiterated that he is not talking to any coaches and that now is not the time to do that. That will come at season’s end, when teams have finished their regular-season schedule, he said.