When Jeff Long decided he wanted to be the new athletic director at Arkansas, the first thing he did is have some key people in his inner circle call Frank Broyles.
Long had long-time friends Johnny Majors and Merv Johnson phone Broyles as an "introduction." He said it's the way of the college football coaching fraternity.
"To feel comfortable, you need to hear someone that is inside your network," Long said. "That's what I did, have those two men, that I have worked with and consider close to me, phone Coach Broyles to tell him about me."
Majors worked as Long's "special assistant" at Pitt until last July 31, helping Long rebuild Pitt football. Long said he was close to Johnson when he was senior associate athletic director at Pitt.
Both Majors and Johnson were assistant coaches under Broyles during the glory days of Arkansas football in the 1960s. Johnson played under Broyles at Missouri and joined his staff later at Arkansas. He was offensive line coach in 1964 when the Hogs won the national championship in football.
Long, 47, said he would return to Pitt to "finish things there" over the next month or so, before returning around the middle of October to serve as an advisor to UA chancellor John White until Broyles steps down at the end of the calendar year.
What will he do at Arkansas in those 10 weeks?
"I'll get to know the people, the donors, the community, the staff," he said. "It's always about the people. That's the most important thing I'll be doing when I get back."
Long said he embraced the idea of following an "icon and a legend." However, he knew not everyone would want such a task.
"Some would shrink from that," he said. "Yes, it is a challenge. But I'm inspired by it. If you are going to replace a legend, he's just the type you want to replace."
Broyles spoke briefly about his time at Arkansas before stepping back to his seat on the podium. When Long was finished with his remarks and questions, Broyles quickly stepped off the stage and left the Raymond Miller Lounge where the news conference was held.
Broyles, in his fastest walk, was asking support personnel, "What time is (football) practice?"
White said the search was executed just as planned by himself, UA president Alan Sugg and Stanley Reed, chairman of the UA board of trustees.
White said he enlisted help from SEC commissioner Mike Slive along with the AD association and a search firm.
"Once we met with Jeff Long, we knew who we wanted," White said. "He had a very, very good job and he was seeing the fruits of his labor."
Long said he knew plenty about Arkansas from his days at OU. He said he took a tour of the facilitis with Arkansas associate AD Bill Gray when he made the trip with the OU basketball team several years ago.
"I was here for the game at the Walton Center and we were in the process of our east stands expansion at OU and Bill Gray provided a tour," Long said. "I came here with a team to compete against the Razorbacks. What I found was that the teams here competed tenaciously and I was also impressed with the support of the Razorback fans. That was also the first time I met Coach Broyles."
He said that it was clear then and again when he returned on Friday for another visit that Arkansas has the best facilities in America "thanks to Coach Broyles."
Long said he was excited at the way Broyles embraced him both in a preliminary phone call and after his trip to campus.
"I can't begin to describe my feelings to be at the University of Arkansas," he said. He called it a "tremendous opportunity" and he thanked White, Sugg and Reed.
"I didn't get concerned until I saw how big Coach Broyles' shoes were," he said. "Obviously, that's the first question, how do you fill his shoes. I don't think I can possibly fill them. I am just honored and humbled to be here."
Long said he was excited to know that Broyles would be close by at a position within the Razorback Foundation.
"That gives me great comfort," Long said. "His experience and his knowledge will be vital."
Long said he looks forward to many lengthy visits with Broyles, one of the first would be stories Keith Jackson, ABC play-by-play legend, told about Broyles on a fishing trip.
"I went salmon fishing with Keith Jackson in Canada and he talked about doing (TV) games with Coach Broyles years ago," Long said. "That's all we talked about on that trip."
Long said the fishing trip came about during a pause of a Alaskan cruise as part of a summer program the Michigan athletic program had with donors.
"I was on that cruise and we were staying in a hotel in Vancouver, or just across the line in Candada," Long said. "Keith Jackson said he was sending a plane for us. We walked out the front door of the hotel, got on a float trip and he flew us back to a place where we fished for a day. He told a lot of stories about Coach Broyles."
Long said he anticipates visiting with Broyles soon about the "strategic plans" that have been in place and then enhancing and taking them forward.
He said he felt comfortable with the idea of working with Broyles after their early discussions.
"I reached out to Coach Broyles after he had heard from some mutual friends," Long said. "I wanted to seek his support and that happened. It's a sincere honor and pleasure to be here and I can't wait to get started."
Frank Broyles (left) and Jeff Long wait for the start of the press conference to announce the new athletic director.
Jeff Long answers questions with Chancellor John White standing in the background.
Frank Broyles (left) and Jeff Long lead a group Hog Call.
Photos by Marc F. Henning, Hawgs Illustrated
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