FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long knows he’s dealing with a different type of football coach in Bret Bielema.

FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long knows he’s dealing with a different type of football coach in Bret Bielema.


It’s what he sought after former coach Bobby Petrino’s abrasiveness left its scars.


"Certainly, you know, Coach Petrino had a way that he conducted the program and Bret has the way that he conducted the program and the way he interacts with people and staff and student-athletes," Long said Wednesday. "They’re different and I knew that when I hired Bret it would be different."


The differences between Petrino and Bielema were among several topics Long covered during his appearance as the guest speaker at the Northwest Arkansas Touchdown Club’s meeting Wednesday. The athletic director and chairman of the College Football Playoff commended Bielema’s work in rebuilding the program, looked back at the hiring of John L. Smith in 2012, and spoke about USC athletic director and CFP committee member Pat Haden’s sideline incident last week.


Petrino’s mistreatment of staff and personnel at numerous stops of his career were documented in a Sports Illustrated story that appeared last month.


Long, who also is the chairman of the College Football Playoff, didn’t delve into much detail regarding his former football coach. But Long said he and the athletic department were aware of some of the documented incidents that occurred. He also indicated Arkansas "handled those situations appropriately."


"All I’m saying is that I’m aware of some of the things that have been alleged," Long said. "I’m not aware of other things that have been alleged."


Long declined to say much else about Petrino, who is now in his first season at Louisville. Instead, he’s focused on Arkansas’ rebuilding under Bielema, who he said had brought a "different atmosphere" to the football program.


"I couldn’t be more proud of what’s going on in that program. How we’re building it," Long told the crowd in attendance Wednesday. "We’re not there yet. It’s going to take time and I know fans don’t like to hear that. I don’t like to hear it. I want to win every game and I want to win now and I want to win this year. And you know what, we’re going to do our fair share of winning this year.


"But we’re putting in a program that has an incredibly strong foundation."


The second-year coach took over the program after a disastrous 2012 season, when Long selected John L. Smith to lead the program through the immediate aftermath of the Petrino scandal. Smith and the coaching staff struggled to maintain the success Petrino achieved in going 21-5 over his final two years with the program.


The Razorbacks were ranked in the top 10 at the start of the season, but went 4-8.


"I think at the time, with the information that I had that I thought the John L. hire would be a good fit," Long said. "I thought that I had strong offensive and defensive coordinators that could lead their sides of the ball. It didn’t turn out that way.


"You know, I’m comfortable enough with who I am and the job I do to understand that was not a good decision — in hindsight. However, I haven’t looked back and looked at the options. While I won’t share with you the other options, I think still at that time it was the best option. It didn’t turn out that way."


The Razorbacks lost a school-record 10 straight games under Bielema before snapping the skid with last week’s 73-7 win against Nicholls State.


Long characterized the victory as a "good sign" Arkansas is making progress on the field because it didn’t struggle with a lesser opponent. He also pointed, once again, to the off-the-field success as indications a solid foundation is being set by Bielema.


He said Bielema has installed "discipline" and "accountability" in all facets of the program. Long highlighted academics, where Arkansas’ GPA has risen from 2.3 to 2.7 since Bielema’s arrival. No players have a GPA below 2.0.


"The successful teams I’ve been around, those things have been in place," Long said. "The performance off the field, the discipline, the conduct, knowing who they represented, how they represent. Taking care of business off the field translates to taking care of business on the field. … It takes a little bit of time and it is changing the culture. But I’m very confident that Bret is doing it the right way and building a strong program. I really believe that."


Of course, Saturday’s game at Texas Tech offers another chance for the Razorbacks to prove the success will translate to wins. Long said it’s an "important game," but insisted it wouldn’t be a make-or-break moment for the program under Bielema.


"I want to win that game on Saturday," Long said. "So does every student-athlete on that team and every coach. But no, I don’t see it as a significant setback if we weren’t to come out victorious. We are building a program and one that will be strong and consistently strong year after year."