Bill Hancock, executive director of the College Football Playoff, spoke to his “very good friend,” Jeff Long, following the July 5 announcement that the 58-year-old former Pittsburgh and Arkansas athletic director would replace Sheahon Zenger as AD at Kansas.
“He is excited. He is really looking forward to it. He is chomping at the bit. He can’t wait to get going,” Hancock said Tuesday, the day before Long’s scheduled introductory news conference at KU.
Long will be joined on the stage by KU Chancellor Douglas Girod and AD search committee Chair Drue Jennings at 11 a.m. Wednesday at the Lied Center Pavilion on KU’s west campus.
“People at the press conference and people who see and read about what happened at the press conference will come away with a very positive feeling about Jeff,” Hancock said.
“He is like (KU basketball coach) Bill Self in this way: He is sincere. He is genuine. That comes across when he talks to the press, like Bill comes across when he talks to anybody. Jeff is a talker like Bill is. He is a people person like Bill is,” Hancock added.
Hancock said he met Long about 25 years ago when Hancock was director of the NCAA Division I men’s basketball championship.
“He was working at the University of Michigan as their liaison for their participating in the tournament,” Hancock said. “Jeff was Michigan’s point person. I worked with him on housing, practices, everything to do with the mechanics of the tournament. It was real obvious then he was really a good guy.”
Hancock and Long worked closely together on the College Football Playoff. Long was the inaugural College Football Playoff selection chairman in 2014 and 2015 and remained a member of the committee in 2016 and ’17.
“Oh man … what goes in the selection committee stays in the selection committee,” Hancock said with a laugh. “He has a great sense of humor, a strong presence on social media. I think people will get a kick out of that.”
Hancock noted that Long is “very well connected in the football community. He was an option quarterback in college (at Ohio Wesleyan). That’s another example of his decision making. Those option quarterbacks have to think on their feet. That’s maybe where Jeff learned to think on his feet.
“He’s a real pro as an athletic director,” Hancock added. “He knows his stuff. I think he’s one of the best ADs in the country. I knew he’d wind up with another good AD job (after being fired at Arkansas last November). He’s that good. He has a rare combination of being a good person and being so likable, but also being able to make a quick decision and a difficult decision. He is very thoughtful to go along with the fact he has the ability to make a decision.”
Hancock said Long is the type of AD who will like to get out and meet KU supporters.
“He’ll be all over the state,” Hancock said. “He has very high energy. It’s a really good energy. It’s directed at doing a job and directing and interacting with people. He truly loves and cares about people.”
Hancock, KU’s Self, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and many others had additional comments about Long in a Star story written Thursday.