One man's introductory news conference should not be another man's exit, but that's the undeniable feeling from Jeff Long's first public words as Kansas' new athletics director.
David Beaty, the football coach whose program has held the department back since long before he was hired, was not among the coaches to meet Long in person on Wednesday. Beaty is with his family on vacation, and Long went out of his way to say he didn't want any coaches to change travel plans on his behalf.
Then, he essentially went out of his way to make it clear that major changes are coming to football.
"It's time to break the cycle," he said. "It's not going to be easy."
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This could not be more clear. Doug Girod, KU's chancellor, specifically mentioned football as the department's biggest challenge when talking about the new AD. Long did the same.
Notably, the closest he came to showing long-term support for Beaty was in saying "Coach Beaty is our coach, and we all need to support this program." Asked how long he'd need to evaluate Beaty, Long referenced his own deep and long connections to the sport.
The facts are not surprising by themselves. We all know KU football stinks. Beaty is about to enter his fourth season, and he's won three games — just one against an FBS school. Football's struggles are why Long has a job, because former AD Sheahon Zenger's greatest charge was always to fix football, and instead the program further deteriorated.
So, no. What's notable is not the recognition that the football program stinks.
What's notable is how direct this is, without much that could be considered support. Long portrayed more confidence that the FBI investigation wouldn't hurt Kansas ("we'll be just fine") than he did that Beaty will be the coach beyond this season.
Realistically, Beaty always needed a miracle this fall to save his job.
Then his AD was fired, further diminishing morale and credibility in recruiting, and now the new AD is putting on a metaphorical haz-mat suit when talking about him.
"I know he's a coach, I know he's a good person, I know he works hard," Long said. "But we haven't gone into any depth about his program."
Long wasn't just boasting about his connections with football. He was the first chair of the College Football Playoff committee, and in his time as an AD made three splashy hires that were each widely praised at the time — Dave Wannstedt at Pittsburgh, and Bobby Petrino and Bret Bielema at Arkansas.
Wannstedt went to three consecutive bowl games before being fired by Long's successor. Petrino won 21 games his last two years before being fired for being, basically, a liar and bad person. Bielema went to consecutive Rose Bowls at Wisconsin but was fired after five seasons that peaked at eight wins at Arkansas.
Long lost his job at Arkansas in large part for supporting Bielema. That should help when he goes to hire a new coach at Kansas.
Those are the hiring chops and national connections that Kansas is buying with a $1.5 million salary.
Long isn't likely to attract a former NFL coach or Power Five conference champion at Kansas, but if the university's only criteria was the ability to hire a football coach you can imagine how that search would've led to Long.
He was mostly vague in his news conference, but basketball coach Bill Self said "a little bit" of a 44-minute conversation he had with Long addressed football.
"He asked some good questions," Self said. "Obviously I believe it can be done here because we've seen it be done."
Long has been described as a coach's AD, and he spent much of Wednesday talking about eliminating obstacles, raising money and selling the program to fans and donors.
But he also knows those are things that sound good in a vacuum but are made toothless without a product fans believe in.
David Booth gave $50 million to kickstart an enormously ambitious fundraising plan — Long called the gift "astonishing" — but the rest of the money won't come without some fundamental change in the program.
In an ideal world, that means winning, but in the real world it likely requires a new coach and new energy and fresh start.
Long was noticeably excited on Wednesday. You could hear it in his voice, see it on his body and know it when he talked about starting on Sept. 1 (his official start date is Aug. 1) and a vacation with his three daughters (he almost certainly meant wife and two daughters).
In some ways, it was reminiscent of Beaty repeatedly saying "Texas" when he meant "Kansas" in his introductory news conference three years ago.
Over and over again, Long said part of what attracted him to Kansas was the challenge. ADs don't always get a second chance in Power Five programs, and when this job opened Long drove from Fayetteville to Lawrence to see the city and campus.
These are not the actions of a man unsure of himself, or prone to unnecessary patience.
"We'll really start to know the progress of the program on Sept. 1 when the season begins," he said.
He may have intended those words as cover for not discussing Beaty or football in more depth on Wednesday. But taken in the larger context, he sounded like a man who will be looking for a new coach in the coming months.