Jeff Long Leaves A Mixed Legacy

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FAYETTEVILLE (KFSM)-- While there's no denying the struggles of the football program in recent years, there was plenty of success to be found in other programs during Jeff Long's tenure. One of those bright spots is the man he hired to bring the Arkansas basketball program back to its former glory.

Jeff Long hired Mike Anderson in 2011, bringing the long time Nolan Richardson assistant back to a struggling basketball program. But Anderson was optimistic from the start. In his introductory press conference, Anderson promised that "We will get it back to the top.  We will get it back o the top. This program will be back to the top."

Anderson has led the Hogs to two of the last three NCAA tournaments, and excitement is already high for this years squad. Long oversaw the building of the Basketball Performance center in 2015, further enriching the program.  And while the team has seen its tournament runs both end in second round losses to North Carolina, Long and Anderson definitely brought excitement back to Bud Walton. The program has been top 25 in the country in attendance each year of Anderson's tenure, including ranking 12th last season.

Arkansas soccer saw unprecedented success under Long, including the program's first NCAA tournament in 2013. Under Coach Colby Hale, another Long hire, the Razorbacks have now made four tournament appearances, even hosting for the first time last year.

"We're committing to work every day, and to outwork opponents and everyone we play," Hale said upon his hiring. And he's lived up to that, quickly becoming the winningest coach in program history.

Long also oversaw continued success of the Arkansas track and field and baseball programs, including a new indoor facility for both. Upon opening the Fowler Center, Long pointed out that  "any prospective student athlete who sees our facilities is gonna be impressed." That's held true, as top recruits continue to pour into Fayetteville in both sports.

And while it's early in the game, Long's hire of Mike Neighbors to lead the women's basketball program was met with universal acclaim. Neighbors took Washington to a Final Four before Long enticed him to return home to Arkansas. The Razorbacks are 2-0 so far under Neighbors, and he's already hit the recruiting trial hard.

Of course, in the end all that matters to many fans is the success of the football program, and so far, Long's hire of Bret Bielema has failed to live up to expectations. What the future holds in that regard remains to be seen, but Jeff Long's impact on Arkansas athletics extends far beyond Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium, and will be felt for years to come.

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