CHICAGO — Former Iowa quarterback Chuck Long wears a polo with “BTN” across his chest, not the emblem of a college football program.
He’s now paid for his honest opinions of others inside the football world, including the program he guided to an outright Big Ten title in 1985. When evaluating Iowa, Long lauded Coach Kirk Ferentz’s strengths as a developmental coach and the team’s potential for future growth. But as for this season?
“I think if they win six games, I think that will be a great year for them,” he said at Big Ten Media Day at the Chicago Hilton. “I think it would be a great coaching year for them, based on the youth they have coming back, a new quarterback, they’ve had some attrition and the depth is probably not all the way there yet. I think a six-win season would be very, very big for that program and they could launch off of that.
“Anything less than that, you get in another 4-8, I don’t know. Obviously you don’t want to see them go in that direction.”
Long was the 1985 Heisman Trophy runner-up and the Detroit Lions’ No. 1 draft pick in 1986. His NFL playing career ended in 1991, and Long became an assistant under Hayden Fry in 1995. He later worked for former Iowa teammate Bob Stoops at Oklahoma, serving as the Sooners’ co-offensive coordinator until landing the San Diego State head coaching job in 2006. He was fired three seasons later, spent two years as Kansas’ offensive coordinator and sat out last year while dabbling as a studio analyst for BTN.
Now Long is all in with BTN. He’ll pair with veteran broadcaster Kevin Kugler to call games on Saturdays, and Long will serve as an analyst for other shows. He’s also moved back to Iowa, working as a business development associate for Holmes Murphy and Associates in Cedar Rapids.
He’s done with college coaching, a decision with which he’s comfortable.
“I just turned 50 so I felt that was a good break from coaching,” Long said. “I was at it 16 years but I turned 50, and it’s time for a new direction.”
Long has worked on his delivery and voice inflection during the offseason. He said the most important lessons he’s learned is to talk slowly and concisely and understand when to talk and when to not say anything. Fast-paced offenses present other challenges for Long.
“It’s hard to interject and talk about replays then you’re on the next snap,” Long said. “The comments have to be quicker when they have that no-huddle offense.”
Long believes he’s a natural as an analyst because of his background.
“I’m one of the rare guys who can bring collegiate player, NFL player, collegiate head coach and coordinator to the table,” Long said. “There aren’t a lot of those guys around, and obviously the Big Ten Network saw that as well. So there’s some credibility and I believe I can bring a lot of credibility to the table.”