Nate Allen is a columnist for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of the University of Missouri, Allen is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and voter for the Heisman Trophy. He has authored three books about the Razorbacks.
No doubt, Broyles an Arkansan to the core
Former Arkansas athletic director Frank Broyles is shown here calling the hogs with the Arkansas spirit squad before the start of an NCAA college football game against Auburn in 2011. Frank Broyles didn’t have to be a native Arkansan to be a lifetime Arkie.
FAYETTEVILLE You don’t have to be a native Arkansan to be a lifetime Arkie.
The University of Arkansas built the statue to prove it.
Frank Broyles’ statue was unveiled Friday morning near the Broyles Center, the Razorbacks’ athletic headquarters bearing his name.
Broyles turns 88 the day after Christmas, with his Georgia accent still syrupy and intact for any remake of Gone With the Wind.
Why the only miniseries that ever cast Broyles - The Blue and the Gray, which starred Gregory Peck and Stacy Keach - cast him as Abraham Lincoln’s doctor when Lincoln was shot defies logic.
Small wonder that “the wound is mortal, all we can do is wait” was Broyles’ line. With that “doctor’s” accent, Lincoln’s wound was bound to be mortal if it were just a powder burn.
Broyles still sounds all Georgia - or perhaps all Georgia Tech, his alma mater - but every fiber of the Razorbacks’ retired football coach(1958-76) and athletic director (1973-2007) is all Arkansas.
While a young Baylor assistant, Broyles was smitten with Arkansas. He wanted, but was too young, to be a serious candidate for the Arkansas head football coaching job that went to Bowden Wyatt in 1953 and to Jack Mitchell in 1955.
Arkansas Athletic Director John Barnhill kept tabs on Broyles nonetheless.
When Mitchell left for Kansas, and Broyles completing his first year as coach at Missouri, Broyles received the “Barnie, what took you so long?” call from Arkansas in December 1957.
Broyles’ old state tried calling him home. Georgia Tech wanted him to succeed Coach Bobby Dodd, his original mentor. The Atlanta Falcons later sought him to be their chief executive.
Broyles didn’t go home, because he was home.
Barnhill, a Tennessee native, reinforced to Broyles that Arkansas would be a home like no other if he embraced it.
The new coach came already embracing.
Broyles craved Arkansas because the entire state is behind the Razorbacks. With no pro teams in any sport and no other Arkansas college in a major conference allowed, Broyles believes - and proved - that if relationships were cultivated and nurtured, the potential was there for Arkansas to compete with anybody despite the state’s small population.
Though a Tennessee man, Barnhill was confident enough in himself and in Arkansas to rely on key Arkansans who were here before him, like George Cole and Glen Rose.
Broyles caught that drift. His first Arkansas hire was Wilson Matthews, the UA graduate and ultra successful Little Rock Central coach. Their accomplishments together excelled on the field, including the 1964 national championship, and in fundraising.
The vision to leave the Southwest Conference for the SEC and the commitment to an incredibly successful all-sports program, a commitment almost unheard of then for football coaches who doubled as athletic directors, Arkansas owes it all to Frank Broyles.
Whether paired with ABC’s Keith Jackson as college football’s No. 1 announcing team or writing the book on care giving for Alzheimer’s victims, Broyles has represented Arkansas every day in every way.
Georgia still has his accent, but Arkansas has his heart.
Nothing ever was built honoring someone more all about Arkansas than the statue unveiled Friday morning.
Sports, Pages 24 on 11/24/2012