Grizzle always good for laugh, more

By: Nate Allen
Published: Wednesday, January 2, 2013

— Although a great businessman as the owner of the venerable Jim Grizzle Tire Co. in Fort Smith and Van Buren, Jim Grizzle probably couldn’t have fit into today’s corporate business engulfing college athletics.

The old Razorback had too much funny business going on in his University of Arkansas days to fit the regimented, nearly all business world besetting today’s college athlete.

Grizzle, a Razorbacks football letterman under Frank Broyles in 1961-1963 and a senior captain in 1963, died Sunday at 71.

During a stretch years ago when I wrote “Where Are They Now” articles for Hawgs Illustrated, Jim Grizzle was an absolute “must” topic, one of his Arkansas teammates, Bill Gray, and one of his coaches, the late Wilson Matthews, both asserted.

The ensuing trip to Fort Smith unearthed a treasure trove of anecdotes from one of Arkansas’ fabled fun-lovers often in some coach’s doghouse, though Grizzle never guzzled alcohol.

“Barry Switzer,” Grizzle recalled of Oklahoma’s three-time national champion head coach who was a Razorbacks assistant during Grizzle’s time at Arkansas. “I was the first guy he ran when he coached, so I made him great.”

Grizzle’s reputation both for mischief and teetotaling made him the perfect foil for his teammates’ hotel prank after the 1962 Razorbacks played in the Sugar Bowl at New Orleans.

“At the Sugar Bowl after the ballgame, they let us charge stuff to the room,” Grizzle said. “I charged turtle soup. It was green. It looked awful. I never ate any of it, but I charged it because it was high.”

High for those days maybe, but not nearly so high as the tab Broyles reviewed.

“Coach Broyles said, ‘Jim, I didn’t think you drank,’ ” Grizzle recalled. “I said, I don’t drink.’ ”

Seems turtle soup was just a shell of Grizzle’s bill.

“They charged everything to me,” Grizzle said of the beverages that teammates put on his room tab. “I think it was $2,500, which was a whole lot of money back then. Royal Crown, all that fancy stuff.”

Any doubt that Grizzle didn’t drink had to be dispelled with him transposing Royal Crown, the soda pop for washing down Moon Pies, with Crown Royal, the high-toned Canadian whisky.

His teammates got the best of him that time, but usually Grizzle got the best of them, even against eventual Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones.

Grizzle recalled “loaning” his car so Jones could drive home for the weekend to North Little Rock.

“I had a car that used a quart of oil about every mile,” Grizzle said. “Jerry didn’t know that when he said, ‘Jimmy, I need to go home. Can I borrow your car?’ I said, ‘Jerry, it uses a little oil.’ He says, ‘That’s all right. I got some money to put more back in it.’ He’s about 20 miles from here and calls. He blowed the motor up and put in a whole new motor.

“That was a heck of a deal for me, but I know he got me back some way. He always got you back.”

Just like Jim Grizzle always got a laugh.

Sports, Pages 14 on 01/02/2013