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.
AD Broyles made 2 impactful hires
Frank Broyles announces Michigan State defensive coach Pat Narduzzi as the 2013 Broyles Award winner during a ceremony Tuesday, Dec. 9, 2013 in Little Rock.
FAYETTEVILLE - Even as three individuals of elephant sized impact upon Arkansas sat together, the elephant not in the room came to mind.
To be historically and Razorbacks complete, it took one more than former President Bill Clinton and retired Razorbacks basketball coaching icons Eddie Sutton and Nolan Richardson, both inductees of the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame.
The three sat together watching Arkansas defeat LSU Saturday at Walton Arena.
At halftime they stood together at center court with former Final Four players through ceremonies marking the 20th year since Richardson’s Razorbacks won the 1994 national championship and honoring Sutton’s 1978 Final Four Razorbacks and also Richardson’s other 1990 and 1995 Final Four Razorbacks plus the 1941 Final Four Razorbacks coached by the late Glen Rose.
Frank Broyles visited postgame with the honored but didn’t stand at center court Saturday.
Like Sutton and Richardson, retired Arkansas Athletic Director Broyles was and is a FOB, Friend of Bill, an instate acronym when Clinton was the governor of Arkansas on his way to becoming the first president to attend a Final Four, the 1994 national championship of course.
Sutton and Richardson at times would have been called FOF (Friends of Frank). And at times certainly not. Sutton and Broyles have since buried the hatchet after an angry Sutton said he “would have crawled to Lexington” to flee Arkansas’ AD and take the Kentucky job he assumed in 1985 but would depart troubled before his superb run at Oklahoma State.
Unfortunately, the Richardson-Broyles relationship seems ended buried in Richardson’s lawsuit after Broyles fired him in 2002.
Richardson did not venture back to Walton Arena until Broyles retired.
They weren’t the only coaches ever in dispute with Broyles, hardly surprising given Broyles directed Razorbacks athletics from 1973-2008 and was head football coach from 1958-76.
Sometimes after a time there just isn’t room enough for big men with big egos, especially dealing with scarred feelings off tragic times.
Richardson’s daughter, Yvonne, was dying of leukemia while his first two Arkansas teams were struggling and Broyles turning up the heat while feeling the heat to have Sutton’s success successfully followed.
Regardless the relationships ups and downs, credit Broyles for hiring the two Hall of Famers.
Hiring and firing Richardson were major events foremost because Richardson was the first Division I major college black head coach in the South to be hired and most high profile to be fired.
Thankfully times progressed. Black coaches now seem as routinely hired and fired and recycled as white coaches.
While Richardson’s hiring was historic, the nation’s football fraternity was about as surprised that Broyles hired Sutton with a whole Hog basketball commitment.
Back then, many AD/football coaches in Broyles’ shoes just cared if their basketball programs were mildly competitive and stayed out of football’s way.
Broyles cast the vast vision to see beyond football and build a total program with basketball an integral part.
Sutton and Richardson so built on that vision that even three coaches later in the dormant post-Nolan years, the Arkansas passion from presidential on down burns for Coach Mike Anderson to reignite the flame.
Sports, Pages 16 on 02/17/2014