Sadly, Charlie Long died in 2008, so he didn't get to see his grandson quarterback his alma mater. “That would have been the icing on the cake,” Chuck Long said. “I wanted all my children to graduate from Norman High, like he did. That means a lot to our family.
“We love Norman. The community. University town. My father always said, growing up in a university town was the best.”
College coaches are well paid, but those paychecks exact a high price. Time spent away from family. Time spent coaching other people's kids.
Heck, Long is twice-blessed by curses. That off year in San Diego allowed him to help coach Zach's freshman football season and watch Nathan's basketball season. Lisa Long, Chuck's wife, has said that was one of their favorite times.
And now, Long gets another window of opportunity.
“It means a lot to me,” Zach said. “I haven't seen him much the last two years.”
Nation called it an easy decision to annex Chuck Long. “Great thing for us, to have an extra set of eyes that have seen all the football that Chuck has,” Nation said. “Some of the things we can bounce off of him, utilize his knowledge, that's a big bonus for us.”
Some sons would feel more pressure knowing their dad is on the sideline or in the press box instead of eating a pizza 350 miles away, listening on Internet radio.
But Zach says his father “takes stress off me a little bit. He kind of knows what to say, how to calm me down when I'm tired or hurting.”
Long had some coaching overtures after last season, but Zach and Maddy were always in the back of his mind. Your son quarterbacking, your daughter on the pom squad, you can't get that back. There is plenty of time later to think about the rest of a career.
Blessings come in many packages. One firing brought the Longs back to Norman. Another firing brought Chuck Long back, too.
“You always think about options that are presented to you,” Long said. “I have to work 15 more years. I've got a long way to go. The big picture, what's one year out of that?
“When I'm down the road, I'll look back with a smile.”
Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.