Like It Is:

It's time to celebrate 'Coach' and his legacy

By: Wally Hall
Published: Sunday, May 11, 2014
Former Arkansas coach Frank Broyles in an undated photo at Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville. Broyles' 1964 national championship team will be honored at the Razorbacks' 2014 game against Alabama.
Photo by Northwest Arkansas Times
Former Arkansas coach Frank Broyles in an undated photo at Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville. Broyles' 1964 national championship team will be honored at the Razorbacks' 2014 game against Alabama.

At one time, for a long time, Frank Broyles was the most powerful man in Arkansas.

As the director of athletics for the University of Arkansas, no one turned down a meeting with him and most went to his office, even if they knew he was on a fundraising mission.

After 55 years of service to the Razorbacks, "Coach" is retiring and a big festival is planned for the weekend of June 6-7 in Fayetteville and Rogers.

It will start with a lunch at 11:30 a.m. June 6 at Paradise Valley Golf and Athletic Club in Fayetteville. Jerry Jones, a former player for Broyles and owner of the Dallas Cowboys, will serve as the guest speaker and a golf scramble will follow.

The next night there will be a banquet to celebrate Broyles' life and career. It starts at 7 p.m. at the John Q. Hammons Center in Rogers. It will be cocktail attire, but it wouldn't be shocking to see Broyles, 89, sporting his familiar look with a piece of his shirt tail out. That's just another reminder of his work-hard-at-all-times attitude.

Broyles came to Arkansas in 1957 as the head football coach. His record was 144-58-5 and included the 1964 Football Writer's Association of America national championship. The FWAA national championship is recognized by the NCAA and its trophy, the Grantland Rice Trophy, has been presented to its national champions since 1954.

Broyles had the first coach's show, and that helped ignite legions of fans.

More than 30 0f his former players and assistants went on to become head coaches in college or the NFL, and they won five national championships and six Super Bowls. Two former players who also assisted Broyles, Barry Switzer and Jimmy Johnson, are the only coaches to win a college championship and a Super Bowl. (So did Pete Carroll, who was an Arkansas assistant on Lou Holtz's staff, but Southern Cal eventually had to vacate its national championship.)

With that type of legacy, it just seemed natural for Broyles to have a trophy named after him that honors the top assistant football coach each season.

Yet, the graduate of Georgia Tech made his real mark on Arkansas athletics as the school's director of athletics, a position he assumed in 1974.

Under his leadership the UA underwent more than $200 million worth of improvements and new construction. From 1977-1985 he also served as an analyst on ABC's game of the week with Keith Jackson, and his Southern drawl made him nationally known.

He flew through a snowstorm to hire Eddie Sutton to coach basketball before Duke could get him. When Sutton left for Kentucky, Broyles hired Nolan Richardson at a time when African-Americans mostly weren't being hired as head coaches at major institutions.

He hired Holtz as his successor, but when recruiting tailed off he fired him. He helped Ken Hatfield decide to take the Clemson job without ever visiting the campus.

Broyles was a hands-on leader. He was never perfect, but his primary goal was always to make Arkansas competitive on a national level. He would not accept excuses.

He wanted to win at everything he did, especially golf, which he used to play almost daily. His idea of a vacation was to meet up with former Texas Coach Darrell Royal and their wives and play 72 holes of golf every day.

Once on a trip to Japan and Hong Kong with the Razorbacks basketball team, Barbara Broyles had to buy three large suitcases to haul back all the souvenirs for her children and grandchildren. Frank Broyles groused that the tax was going to break them.

When they made it to customs in Seattle, Broyles said something about the long lines. The person in charge recognized Broyles' voice and escorted everyone in the official party through without so much as looking at a piece of luggage.

Now, comes another chance to honor Broyles.

More information is available by calling (501) 680-6169. Proceeds go to Care Givers United, an organization that helps families learn how to deal with Alzheimer's disease. Barbara Broyles died of Alzheimer's complications in 2004.

Sports on 05/11/2014