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Kansas Hire Of Former Arkansas AD Jeff Long Sets Off Bret Bielema Speculation

Bret Bielema reacting during an Arkansas football game.

FAYETTEVILLE, AR - SEPTEMBER 5: Head Coach Bret Bielema of the Arkansas Razorbacks talks with a official during a game against the UTEP Miners at Razorback Stadium on September 5, 2015 in Fayetteville, Arkansas. The Razorbacks defeated the Miners 48-13. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

Kansas filled its athletic director vacancy today, tabbing a pretty big name in the college sports world: former Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long. He is likely to make a football hire in his first year, which has led to plenty of speculation about his former Razorbacks hire Bret Bielema.

Long, who previously served at Pitt before beginning his near-decade at Arkansas, was relieved of his duties on November 15. Nine days later, the school fired Bielema, after a 4-8 season.

Bielema couldn't quite get over the hump in the SEC West, and replicate the success he had at Wisconsin. He does have a pretty strong resume though, even if he ultimately wasn't right for the Hogs.

Kansas basketball is rolling under Bill Self. It is pretty obvious what Long's No. 1 job is: fix the Jayhawks football program.

David Beaty, who has one Big 12 win and a 3-33 overall record through three seasons, is on the hottest seat in college football entering the year. Long will want to hire his own guy, so short of massive improvement, Beaty is likely done at some point this season.

With the Jeff Long hire, there is now plenty of Bret Bielema Kansas speculation online.

Bielema himself tweeted about the hire to congratulate his former boss this afternoon.

The tweets came almost immediately after Long was officially announced, from fans and media members.

Obviously we still have to see at least a few games from the Beaty-led Jayhawks this fall before this really heats up. It is natural for everyone to identify Bielema as a candidate though.

Kansas is a brutal job, and could certainly do worse than someone with Bielema's record. The style of run-first ball he cultivated and Wisconsin and utilized through much of his Arkansas tenure would actually be a bit against the grain in the spread-dominated Big 12. Bielema's later Arkansas teams did utilize more of a spread-based system too, though.

Right now, the former Arkansas coach is working with the New England Patriots. It is unclear if he wants an immediate return to college—he's expressed some misgivings with the recruiting process and some other parts of that level—but if a head coaching opportunity is out there, it would be a bit surprising for him to totally shut it down.