Ogden column: Former Iowa football great is running backs coach for St. Louis BattleHawks
Chuck Long is a man of many talents, a wearer of many hats.
He is a former All-American quarterback and the 1985 Heisman Trophy runner-up for the Iowa football team. He played in the NFL for the Detroit Lions and Los Angeles Rams.
He is the CEO and executive director of the Iowa Sports Foundation, which oversees, among many other things, the Iowa Games.
He is an analyst on the Big Ten Network.
He is a speaker.
That you probably already knew.
What you might not have know is he is a coach — again.
Long, 56, hasn’t coached since he was offensive coordinator at Kansas in 2010 and ’11. Before that, he was head coach at San Diego State for three seasons and, before that, an assistant at Iowa and Oklahoma.
Now he’s in the XFL. You remember the XFL, the short-lived (2001) professional football league owned by World Wrestling Entertainment and NBC. This new version is owned by Vince McMahon, of WWE fame, and begins play Feb. 8.
“You know you can’t put all your eggs in one basket,” Long said with a laugh.
Long has joined another former Hawkeye — Jonathan Hayes — as running backs coach for the St. Louis BattleHawks. Hayes is head coach and general manager.
The first question for Long last week was “why?” Don’t you have enough to do?
“You just can’t get it out of your blood,” he said. “I’m really excited about this … I hope it continues.”
Long said he got a call from Hayes in the fall, asking about the possibility of joining the BattleHawks’ staff. Hayes, at the time, was the offensive coordinator for Jim Haslett.
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The lure, Long said, was it essentially is a part-time job, something he could do while still heading the ISF.
“I like my foundation work,” Long said. “I have a staff that really runs the day-to-day operations and allows me to do something like this.”
When Hayes called back more recently, his title had changed. Although that wasn’t the first thing the two former Hawks talked about.
“He’s talking about other coaches,” Long said. “I’m listening and he’s talking about his trainer. He’s talking about weight coach, scouts and all. So I stopped him halfway through the conversation. I go, ‘John, are you the head coach now?’”
Long was offered the offensive coordinator position, but didn’t think he had the time for that.
“I said I’ve been out of football too long and I couldn’t do it justice,” Long said. “He said, ‘OK, I’ll make you running backs coach.’ I said ‘that’s good.’”
Long is not only excited about being back in coaching, he thinks the XFL will be a good product. Eight teams will play a 10-week schedule, a “79-day sprint from kickoff to the championship game,” according to the XFL. Playoffs are April 18-19, the championship game April 26.
Games will be televised by ABC, ESPN, FS1 and Fox.
Bob Stoops, another former Hawkeye great, is the head coach of the Dallas Renegades. By far the biggest name in the league, Stoops won 190 games, 10 Big 12 titles and a national championship in nearly 20 years at Oklahoma.
That’s a good get for McMahon in this new/old league.
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Other familiar names running teams are Jim Zorn, June Jones and former Chicago Bears head coach Marc Trestman. Other teams are in Houston, Los Angeles, Seattle, Washington, D.C., New York and Tampa Bay.
The BattleHawks have the coolest nickname, for what that’s worth.
“(McMahon’s) got a really good business plan, a really solid business plan,” Long said. “We think it’s going to work.
“It all depends on people watching it … that’s the key to the whole thing.”
“It’s his first opportunity to be a head coach and … I want to help him be successful,” Long said.
Hayes had one bit of advice for his old QB during that aforementioned call.
“He said don’t quit your day job,” Long said with a laugh. “So I’m not going to do that.”
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