FAYETTEVILLE (KFSM)--While Bret Bielema's track record contributed to the firing of Jeff Long, two other coaches hired by Long were big reasons. Former football coach Bobby Petrino and women's basketball coach Jimmy Dykes.
"When I came out of a ditch there was a lady there that had flagged down a car and a guy that was in the passenger seat said get in we'll just take you right to the hospital," Petrino said.
That was said in April of 2012, just months after leading the Hogs to an 11 win season and Cotton Bowl victory. Soon thereafter, Long responded.
"I informed coach that given this information, the freshness of the information, the short period of time that I've had the information, that I was gonna put him on administrative leave."
Days later Long fired Petrino for his affair with Jessica Dorrell and lying to the public.
"He had multiple opportunities over a four day period to be forthcoming with me. He chose not to," said Long.
That plunged the football program into a 4-8 year of turmoil under interim coach John L. Smith. But Long's trouble didn't end with football as in 2014, the athletic director hired Arkansas alumnus and television analyst Jimmy Dykes. But 43 wins in three seasons weren't enough to overcome the team kneeling during the national anthem at the start of last season.
"It's been a distraction, absolutely it's been a distraction. But that's okay, you know life's about distractions and how you handle distractions," said Dykes.
Long publicly backed the athletes that knelt during the opening week of the season. Dykes then stepped down in March.
Since blowing two second half leads against Missouri and Virginia Tech, Bret Bielema and the football team are 4-8. Bielema is 11-27 in SEC play overall.