Friends and fans say farewell at Frank Broyles celebration

Ex-coach’s reach beyond football

By: Bob Holt
Published: August 20, 2017 at 3:53 a.m. - Updated: August 20, 2017 at 3:53 a.m.
Jerry Jones, former Arkansas player and owner of the Dallas Cowboys, speaks alongside a portrait of Frank Broyles Saturday, Aug. 19, 2017, during a celebration in Bud Walton Arena on the University of Arkansas campus in Fayetteville for the life of Frank Broyles, the former coach and athletics director, who died Monday at 92.
Photo by Andy Shupe
Jerry Jones, former Arkansas player and owner of the Dallas Cowboys, speaks alongside a portrait of Frank Broyles Saturday, Aug. 19, 2017, during a celebration in Bud Walton Arena on the University of Arkansas campus in Fayetteville for the life of Frank Broyles, the former coach and athletics director, who died Monday at 92.

FAYETTEVILLE -- Not every monument on the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville campus to Frank Broyles involves the Razorbacks' athletic teams.

Dan Ferritor, who as Arkansas' chancellor from 1986-97 worked with the Razorbacks' longtime football coach and athletic director, said Saturday that Old Main would not be standing today if not for Broyles.

Old Main, which opened in 1875, was closed from 1986-91 for safety reasons.

Ferritor told the story of how the historic building was saved, as he spoke during Saturday's celebration of life ceremony held in Broyles' honor at Bud Walton Arena on campus.

[GALLERY: Click here for photos from event honoring Broyles]

Broyles died Monday at age 92 from complications of Alzheimer's disease.

"In 1985, we started a campaign to raise the money to renovate Old Main," Ferritor said. "The statewide symbol of education had stood empty with a fence around it for five years. It was ugly."

Ferritor said he turned to Broyles for help.

"During that campaign we would contact potential donors and say, 'Dan Ferritor and Frank Broyles would like to talk to you about an important project at the university,'" Ferritor said. "We made well over 50 calls and never were refused, and I didn't think that was because they wanted to see Dan Ferritor."

Frank Broyles has died at the age of 92

(By Blake Sutton )
[View Full-Size]

Ferritor said each meeting began with Broyles renewing old friendships and talking football.

"Often Frank would talk about the individual play from that seventh game in 1958 against Texas A&M," Ferritor said. "A game that gave Frank his first Arkansas win (21-8) after six straight losses.

"As he told these stories, it was as if Frank was on the field coaching. It never failed to electrify the room, and right then he would say, 'But we're not here to talk about football today. Dan has something important to tell you about my school.'"

Ferritor made his case for why the boosters should make a gift to renovate Old Main, and Broyles would close the deal.

"As we were leaving, Frank would stop and turn around and with the words that only Frank Broyles could say, 'We hope you're going to help us on this. It's the most important thing we have going and we need your help,'" Ferritor said. "Was it successful? Go look at Old Main today."

"That campaign was truly transformative for the university. Somehow a fixed Old Main gave us new pride in who we were and what we could do."

Broyles led the Razorbacks to a 144-58-5 record in 19 seasons from 1958-76 and was athletic director from 1973-2007, but he's also nationally known for being an analyst for ABC college football telecasts with play-by-play man Keith Jackson from 1977-85.

Quinn Grovey, the quarterback for Arkansas' back-to-back Southwest Conference championship teams in 1988 and 1989, said he grew up in Duncan, Okla., watching Broyles and Jackson every Saturday.

"As soon as the telecast was over, I'd rush outside to play football with my friends in the neighborhood, and after we quit arguing about which player we were going to be that week, I'd then take on the additional responsibility of broadcasting the game as Frank Broyles," Grovey said. "Now picture a little kid running around the hood with a fake Southern accent trying to sound like Frank Broyles."

Grovey thanked Broyles for hiring him to be part of Arkansas' radio broadcast team 18 years ago, but especially for helping educate him about Alzheimer's disease.

Broyles' first wife, Barbara, died in 2004 from the disease.

Two years later Broyles wrote and published a book -- free to the public -- titled Coach Broyles' Playbook for Alzheimer's Caregivers, which included information and tips to help families deal with the disease.

Grovey said his mother was diagnosed with dementia in 2005 and died in 2015.

"It was really difficult for me to watch her change," Grovey said. "In the beginning, I made every caregiver mistake in the world. I just didn't quite understand the disease.

"My actions probably caused more stress for my mom. I didn't know what she was going through, and I had no answers. But when I was given a copy of Coach Broyles' book, things got better.

"I began to care for my mother in a way that was healthier for her. I learned not to beat myself on certain things. The playbook allowed me to change my mind about caregiving. I saw it as a privilege."

Jerry Jones, the Dallas Cowboys' owner and general manager who was a starting senior offensive guard for the Razorbacks' 11-0 team in 1964, credited Broyles with providing him with the vision to build AT&T Stadium.

Jones recalled that before the Razorbacks beat Nebraska 10-7 in the Cotton Bowl on Jan. 1, 1965, Broyles held some practices in Houston and took the players to see the new Astrodome.

"No games had been played there yet, but it was completely ready to go," Jones said. "I looked up and I thought, 'This is Mars.' Then I asked, 'How do you build something like this Astrodome?'

"To show you how Coach Broyles impacted lives, 45 years later, I'm in Dallas, Texas, and I'm thinking about maybe building a stadium. I didn't ask if it could be done. I already knew the answer. Coach Broyles was absolutely a teacher all along the way."

Ken Hatfield, a star defensive back and punt returner as a senior for the Razorbacks in 1964, was hired by Broyles to coach at his alma mater and led Arkansas to a 55-17-1 record from 1984-89.

During Hatfield's time at the podium, he addressed Broyles.

"I thought about what you've given to Arkansas and for all us to be a part of it," Hatfield said. "You gave us pride, you gave us hope and you gave us confidence that in the future, in the nation anything that happened in football, Arkansas mattered."

Jack Broyles, the eldest of Frank and Barbara Broyles' six children, spoke on behalf of the family. He thanked Kevin Trainor, Arkansas' director of public relations, for putting together Saturday's celebration and praised his father's second wife, Gen.

"We call her our bonus mom," Jack Broyles said.

He said no matter how early the children woke up, Frank Broyles already had left for work, but he made sure to be home for dinner with his family.

"That was a special time for us," Jack Broyles said. "That was the time we got to share with our father what our day was like at school, what we were doing in sports. It was Dad's way of keeping up with the family."

David Bazzel, the former Arkansas linebacker who created the Broyles Award in 1996 to recognize the top assistant in college football, served as the emcee of Saturday's event and opened by saying the Broyles family insisted that it be a celebration, not a memorial service.

He offered some light remarks, including that Saturday's crowd not only included coaches Broyles had hired but also some he had fired and run off.

Dozens of Broyles' former coaches and players were in attendance, including former basketball coaches Eddie Sutton, Nolan Richardson and John Pelphrey.

SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey was in attendance along with predecessors Roy Kramer and Mike Slive.

Vince Dooley, the former Georgia football coach and athletic director, was there, as was Johnny Majors, a former Broyles' assistant who led Pittsburgh to a national championship and later coached at Tennessee.

Bazzel's idea of naming the award after Broyles was appropriate because of the way Broyles produced assistants who became head coaches -- including Hatfield, Barry Switzer, Jimmy Johnson, Joe Gibbs, Fred Akers, Hayden Fry, Doug Dickey, Raymond Berry, Houston Nutt, Jackie Sherrill, Pat Jones, Butch Davis, John Jenkins, Harold Horton, Jesse Branch, Ken Turner and Ken Stephens.

"Coach Broyles always said he led a charmed life, but we know that we were charmed by his life," Bazzel said. "His players were, his coaches were, his beloved university was, and of course the state of Arkansas was.

"This was a man who spent time with presidents. He went backstage with Elvis Presley. He hosted Billy Graham for dinner at his house. But he was most at home with the people of Arkansas."

Jack Broyles said people used to tell his father that nobody had heard about Arkansas until he became the Razorbacks' coach.

"If anybody ever said, 'Frank, you made Arkansas,' he was quick to say, 'No, Arkansas made me,'" Jack Broyles said. "He called it the Arkansas Miracle."

Ferritor credited Broyles not only with saving Old Main but also for being a key figure in two other efforts that raised money for more than 100,000 books to add to the UA library and the "Campaign for the 21st Century," which generated more than $1 billion in donations.

"I think Frank's greatest contribution was his willingness to co-chair those campaigns and make a clear, public statement that the academic mission of this university was important to him and to encourage his fans and supporters to give," Ferritor said. "Did it cost athletics anything? Probably a little. Did Frank care? Absolutely not. It helped his school, and that's what Frank was interested in. For him, it was a team effort."

Ferritor said after Broyles died last week, he stepped outside of his house and looked up at the sky.

"I heard something that sounded like a hog call," he said. "That could have been thunder, but I have learned never underestimate Frank Broyles.

"May he rest in peace, but may his memory stay alive for us all."

A Section on 08/20/2017

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story online incorrectly described the event in the headline. It was a celebration of life ceremony.


Have a comment on this story? Join the discussion or start a new one on the Forums.