Unless you have been living under a rock, or just really don't care about college football, you are probably aware that Arkansas football had a terrible season. Horrible, in fact. We finished the season 4-8, and one of those wins was by one point to a team who this is their first year in Division I collegiate athletics.
Fans are over the football team and stopped being invested in the football season a long time ago. Many fans were calling for our head coach, Bret Bielema, to be fired halfway through the season. That is not the direction our university chose to go, though. They chose to fire the man who has been our Athletic Director since 2008, Jeff Long, instead. And that was a really bad idea.
First of all, I want it to be known that I am a HUGE football fan. I grew up watching it with my dad, so I know the players, their positions, and probably about 95% of the rules. That being said - a university's athletic program is NOT JUST FOOTBALL.
Yes, our football team was laughable this year. But so many good things have happened in Arkansas athletics since Jeff Long has been here. He hired Mike Anderson, the current basketball coach, and since then our team has gone dancing a third of the time, and the outlook for the upcoming season is very bright.
The soccer team has gone to the NCAA tournament four out of the past five years and got runner-up in the SEC tournament this year. Baseball went to the college world series in Omaha in 2009, 2012, and 2015, and if the trend continues, we'll go again this year. And of course, the University of Arkansas is still the track and field capital of the world, with regular sweeps of SEC indoor, outdoor, and cross country meets for both men and women.
These are only a few of the on-field successes we have had since Jeff Long has been Athletic Director. Academically, our student-athletes have also been shining. For the 2017 SEC Spring Honor Roll, the University of Arkansas finished second out of all the SEC schools. That is a big deal, considering the reason you go to college is for an education. Having an athletic director who puts so much emphasis on academics is a blessing, one that I don't know if Arkansas will realize it had until now since it is too late.
So yes, I understand football is a big deal, especially in the south at an SEC school. I know it brings in the most revenue, and I know it is what most people think of when they think of college athletics. But, there is so much more to an athletic program than just how the football team is doing. Firing Jeff Long was a hasty decision, and I think the University of Arkansas will soon regret the choice that was made.