Thursday was a day of high drama with no reward.
It started early in the morning with a picture of Arkansas athletics director Jeff Long sitting in an auditorium in Little Rock at a UA Board of Trustees meeting.
He looked like the kid sent to the principal’s office. Behind him was Fayetteville chancellor Joseph Steinmetz chatting with someone like the kids waiting for the principal, but not nearly as worried as that poor kid in front of them.
Only Long looked like a man with a problem.
The biggest difference is, reportedly, Steinmetz was required at the meeting. Long, reportedly, wasn’t invited and brought along by the chancellor.
That could be as ominous as it sounds.
There was no announcement about either Long or embattled football coach Bret Bielema, who is trying to wrap up preparations for a game against LSU where the Hogs have approximately the same odds of winning as a mule in the Arkansas Derby.
Everyone kept acting like they were expecting one.
That’s not the way the system works, folks. The Board of Trustees doesn’t hire and fire athletic directors and coaches. They have seldom — if ever — gotten involved in the day-to-day operations of the university.
But they can, and often do, provide direction to the chancellor and others. In the end, the pink slips are handed out by the president to the chancellor, the chancellor to the athletics director, the athletics director to the coach.
There was never going to be a public execution, despite the fact a lot of folks were expecting one.
What could have happened and was expected by many two months ago was an extension and a raise for Long. That would have been voted on in public session after an executive session that dragged on for over three hours after originally being scheduled for 45 minutes.
The BOT is not going to have any sort of motion or vote on firing Bielema.
But they could make their feelings known and, according to some sources, they did so in absolutely no uncertain terms.
And it wasn’t good for Bielema.
Those same sources said Long’s unexpected attendance wasn’t exactly well received by the board.
And after a full day of drama and a myriad of rumors flying all over the place,
The only thing you can bet the house on is the BOT wasn’t in executive session that long to discuss the history or economics departments. If there was a scandal of that proportion it would already be known by news media outlets.
The guess here is there are questions for the athletic department and those were likely relayed to Steinmetz and Long given the highlights in his brief time in front of the board, which reportedly was similar to sticking your head in the door and saying hi to everybody.
Long was not in the executive session, according to BOT vice-chairman Mark Waldrip. Any discussion of why was there would be “inappropriate,” he told KATV in Little Rock.
There likely will be a leak somewhere along the way. We’ve heard a few, but nothing to report because, well, it’s complete and total speculation.
But we are pretty sure the next few weeks (and likely months) are going to be interesting.
And we’re also pretty sure there will be some changes coming, although exactly what is in a swirl of rumor and gossip right now.
The guess here is both Long and Bielema will likely be gone over the next several months.
Bielema will be gone shortly after Thanksgiving.
Long? Well, he’ll get a few more months, but his name has been linked to athletic director openings at Nebraska and now Auburn where one report had him in the final four under consideration to replace Jay Jacobs.
That’s just some guessing, but we don’t think Long’s problems have a whole lot to do with the number of football games won and lost.
Again, that’s just a guess.
We officially don’t know know what we officially don’t know.
But probably will soon.