Arkansas AD Once Damaged PGA, British Open Trophy While Disrespecting Golf Legend

Many Razorbacks fans, former players disliked Jeff Long, but Daly has more reason than most
Tiger Woods hugs John Daly during a practice round for the PGA Championship golf tournament at Valhalla Golf Club.
Tiger Woods hugs John Daly during a practice round for the PGA Championship golf tournament at Valhalla Golf Club. / Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
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FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – It's no secret that former Arkansas athletics director Jeff Long wasn't exactly loved during his tenure with the Razorbacks. Yet, until now, the disdain shown by former alums, players and staff was a consistent bubble just beneath the surface out of the public eye.

Former Arkansas golfer and PGA legend John Daly spent Tuesday morning on 103.7 "The Buzz" making sure there was no doubt how disliked Long was and still is while talking about an incident of ultimate disrespect by the former Razorbacks AD. For him, the final straw ties directly to his beloved PGA and British Open trophies and the physical damage done to these revered artifacts at Long's direction.

Arkansas athletics has always meant a lot to Daly, as have its historic artifacts. Former Hogs basketball coach Nolan Richardson once sent him a picture of the floor from the 1994 national championship game and former athletics director Frank Broyles once sent him the Razorback rug that resided in his office for a long time. Both are proudly on display in Daly's office to this day.

So, in reciprocation of the historic items that had been provided to him, Daly decided shortly after former football coach Houston Nutt finished a rough season that he would show support by donating his PGA and British Open trophies to be put on display as a reminder of what Razorbacks athletes can accomplish.

As time went on, the trophies made their way to The Blessings, which serves as home to Arkansas men and women's golf. Daly trusted they were in good care until he found out one day that definitely wasn't the case.

He was scheduled to do an event with the Golf Channel alongside David Faherty and wanted to have his trophies be part of the festivities as well. So, he called up a driver he often uses from around the Fayetteville area whom he refers to as Limo Joe and asked if he could swing by the University of Arkansas to grab his trophies and bring them to him.

"And he looked all over the place for them," Daly said. "Apparently Jeff Long didn't like alumni stuff or whatever. The PGA trophy was in a closet and the top of it was broke. I had to get it fixed. The British Open trophy was out of the case, and it was thrown in a closet as well. It was half dented up. Limo, it took him literally three hours to find it. Jeff didn't want any alumni stuff, so he threw it in a closet, and thank God, Limo found them, and I did the show."

To add insult to injury, it turns out British Open trophies not only are borderline impossible to earn, they aren't free when they are earned.

"But, you know, I had paid for that British Open trophy," Daly said. "It cost me 7,500 pounds. The PGA I got for free, but you talk about disrespect what Jeff Long did. He had no clue what those trophies meant to me, but I had donated them to the University of Arkansas, and Limo found them in a closet."

The damage to his trophies were simply the cherry on top of a long list of reasons why Daly never found a soft spot in his heart for Long. It takes more than that to develop the strong feelings he willingly shared without hesitation.

"Jeff Long was the worst thing that ever happened to the University of Arkansas," Daly said. "I'm sorry. He sucked and he was a jerk."

It was the first of six times Daly referred to Long as a jerk in a four minute span. And he didn't limit his perception just to Long's time at Arkansas.

"He's the worst athletic director that ever came to Arkansas and the worst one that ever went to Pittsburgh, the worst one that ever went to Michigan State, and then he goes to Kansas and tries to fire the basketball coach," Daly said. "Tried to get rid of the basketball coach that's getting paid more than any basketball coach – well, maybe [Arkansas coach John Calipari] is now – but he just was mean. He didn't like alumni."

David Bazzel, a Razorbacks legend himself who was conducting the interview, referenced a conversation with former Arkansas communications director Rick Schaeffer that showed there were issues with Long from the beginning.

"[Schaeffer said] it was not a pleasant transition from Frank to Jeff, and that Jeff never communicated effectively with Frank," Bazzel said. "It was just a tense situation, and he didn't feel comfortable with following the legacy of Frank, and that there were tensions there right off the bat.

Daly had serious contention with how out of touch he felt Long was with the people of Arkansas. One particular sore point was one that made general fans see Long in a negative light without knowing much of what was going on behind the scenes.

"You know, when he was there, he made our stadium Pepsi," Daly said. "Who in the hell drinks Pepsi in Arkansas?"

While there are always incidents of adults trying to smuggle in alcohol to Razorbacks games over the years, Daly painted a picture of desperate boys and girls trying to find creative ways to get past security with Coca-Cola products.

"All the time that he was there, the most things that kids smuggled in were Diet Coke and Coca-Cola," Daly said. "You're gonna make a kid take a Diet Coke and a Coca-Cola out of his boot or or her purse or his jeans or whatever? Oh my God, it's like a crime. Somebody brought Coke and Diet coke to the University of Arkansas football stadium."

The trophies now travel with Daly in his bus where they can receive proper care and respect. Still, they serve as a constant reminder of an AD who once had no use for them nor the man who brought attention to the Arkansas program by winning them.

"All I know is thank God we got [current athletics director] Hunter Yurachek," Daly said. "That's all I could say. I love him. He's unbelievable for our program."

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Kent Smith

KENT SMITH

Kent Smith has been in the world of media and film for nearly 30 years. From Nolan Richardson's final seasons, former Razorback quarterback Clint Stoerner trying to throw to anyone and anything in the blazing heat of Cowboys training camp in Wichita Falls, the first high school and college games after 9/11, to Troy Aikman's retirement and Alex Rodriguez's signing of his quarter billion dollar contract, Smith has been there to report on some of the region's biggest moments.