In a matter of months, University of Arkansas Athletic Director Jeff Long has been forced to make some difficult decisions while also dealing with drama, success, scandal, relationships and rumors.
In part one of a KNWA exclusive, Nightly News Anchor Matt Turner conducts a special interview with the man who's responsible for Razorback athletics.
The following is a transcript of an interview that aired Thursday night on KNWA.
Take me back to when Bobby told you and kind of came clean and just the emotions and just the feelings and what was going through your head at that time.
Well , you know again, without going too much into that. It's disappointment. And you know, we all know that the football position, head coach at the University of Arkansas is you know a highly-held and highly-regarded position on this campus -- in this state.
So you know, the disappointment -- how we in some respects let down our passionate fan base. And you know, it was a difficult time and we wanted though to make sure that we didn't let one action define who we are and what we stand for and what we're going to be -- continue to be here. So I think it was important that we got out and took the action that we did and sent the message that we did because this program is bigger than any one individual.
Have you spoken to Bobby since?
I have not. I have not.
Do you think you ever will? Do you think you'll reach out to him? Would you answer the phone if he called you?
Yeah, I think the ball's in his court from my point of view and I'm sure he's dealing with lots of emotional things, and again, the most important thing is for him to focus on his family and get his life situated -- and I get all that.
You know, I think sometime down the road, I'm sure we will run into each other in this profession and I'm sure that I'll have words with him. And you know, I don't wish him any ill will. I wish him the best as he continues on.
You've always been well known. You know, people know Jeff Long all across the country -- but it's like overnight -- you went from a well known, respected athletic director to maybe THE most well known, respected athletic director. What does that feel like?
You know, it's very difficult for me because of the kind of person I am to grasp all that. I mean, I am who I am. And there are many athletic directors, and I won't say all, but many athletic directors I think would have arrived at the same place given those circumstances.
So you know, it was an important message to deliver that night. I know I got many thoughts and prayers from Razorback fans and believe me I needed all of that to pull myself up and be able to deliver that message.
You said you got a lot of mail...you got a lot of well wishes. You also got a phone call or two from Stanford. Maybe not directly to you -- but from what I'm told, they reached out to you about a vacancy.
Walk me through the process of, you find out Stanford maybe wants to talk to you and you say I want to stay at Arkansas. Why is that?
Well, it's a prestigious institution, no question. And again, when you are in a role like this, you expect from time to time for people to have an interest if you're doing a good job and I feel like my team and I are doing a good job here, so we're being recognized which is great.
We want to be recognized, but you know, I have a great job. I really do.
I love being in this place, I love this university, I love this part of the country, I love the passion of the Razorback fans and I believe we have a chance to win national championships here and that's really exciting to me. And we do it in the toughest conference, in the toughest division in all of sports. So the competitor in me says this is the place to compete and I love to compete.
Ok, this is the final question. Crazy, crazy question -- but people are talking about it. I don't know if you've heard it.
People believe....some -- I say some, that Petrino may be sitting out a year. Still lives here -- and may come back and be the head coach in a year or two.
Yeah, there's no...there's no validity to that. That's not going to happen.
Not going to happen?
It's not going to happen.
Ok. I just had to make sure.
That probably won't even be on camera!
Just had to make sure!
No, that's ok! I know...and it amazes me that that's still out there.
Have you heard that?
Oh yeah, yeah.
I've had people tell me that was my plan.
Yeah! That's your plan! Get rid of him, you know, get him out of the limelight. Bring him back.
No way it's going to happen?
No.... (Answers with a smile)
*As for the current head coach, be sure to watch KNWA Friday at 10:00 p.m. for the second part of our exclusive interview with Jeff Long.
*Find out if John L. Smith has to reach a certain number of wins this season to keep his job and what type of coach Long is hoping to hire if he decides to make a change.