Illinois hires Long to coach tight ends

If this whole coaching thing doesn't pan out, Ron Zook probably can land a job in human resources.

He has spent enough time interviewing job candidates during the last eight months.

Zook made his seventh -- and hopefully final -- coaching hire for the 2010 season on Wednesday, naming Chip Long as Illinois' new tight ends coach. Long replaces Greg Nord, who left for a position at Kentucky before coaching a single game at Illinois.

Long spent the last two years as a graduate assistant at Arkansas, where he tutored the tight ends. He worked under new Illinois offensive coordinator Paul Petrino with the Razorbacks and also has familiarity with new Illinois quarterbacks coach Jeff Brohm from a stint at Louisville.

"Chip is an outstanding young coach," Zook said in a prepared statement. "He is very knowledgeable of our offense after his experience with Paul Petrino. He's played the position at high level. Chip brings great energy to an already energized staff."

Long played receiver and tight end at North Alabama and helped Arkansas tight end D.J. Williams become a Mackey Award semifinalist in 2008.

"I'm extremely excited to come to Illinois and have the opportunity to work with a great coaching staff that has high expectations," Long said in a statement. "I'm fortunate to be coming into a system that I'm very familiar with, having worked with both coach Petrino and coach Brohm earlier in my career. They've been terrific mentors as I've broken into the coaching profession and I look forward to working with them again here at Illinois."

Long is young, but his experience with both Petrino and Brohm should help. Zook had to act quickly since camp begins in less than a month, and he came through.

I wonder the last time a team made seven assistant coaching hires in a single offseason while retaining its head coach. It's got to be a record.