Wally Hall is the managing sports editor for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of the University of Arkansas-Little Rock after an honorable discharge from the U.S. Air Force, he is a member and past president of the Football Writers Association of America, member of the U.S. Basketball Writers Association, past president and current executive committee and board member of the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame, and voter for the Heisman Trophy. He has been awarded Arkansas Sportswriter of the Year 10 times and has been inducted into the Arkansas Sportswriters and Sportscasters Hall of Fame.
Like It Is:
No time like the present to miss Broyles
A statue of Frank Broyles is shown on Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2017, on the University of Arkansas campus in Fayetteville.
Frank Broyles' legacy is so strong, people are missing him today more than ever.
The University of Arkansas football program is at the lowest point in its history, and there was never a hint of that during Broyles' 50 years as head coach and athletic director.
This is not an indictment on new Athletic Director Hunter Yurachek. He inherited this mess almost two years ago, and it was worse than anyone expected.
It probably began when John White was named chancellor of the UA.
White came in with a great attitude of making a difference in his home state. He was from Harrison and a UA graduate.
Few knew then that the winds of change were sweeping across colleges and universities across the country. There was, and still is, much concern for raising and spending money.
White and his protege, G. David Gearhart, began to raise large amounts of money, but just across the street from campus were millions of dollars — the Razorback Foundation, the private arm of the athletic department.
Broyles officially was not in charge of the Foundation, but you had to go through him to get to it, and he wasn’t letting that happen.
White and Broyles butted heads.
By 2007, Broyles was showing signs of physical problems. The board of trustees, led by Jim Lindsey, tried to help.
The NCAA said the board was too involved.
Jeff Long had been hired as AD-in-waiting.
Broyles always came away the quiet victor against White until Houston Nutt resigned and White declared he was taking off the golden handcuffs, and the Foundation would give Nutt more than $2 million as a going-away present.
Within 48 hours, Nutt — a multimillionaire, including his severance package of almost $2 million — was accepting the job at Ole Miss, and White was in trouble with his bosses, the board of trustees.
If White had stayed out of athletics, he might have gone down as one of the great chancellors.
In came Gearhart, who suddenly was responsible for the $300 million donation from the Waltons instead of White.
Gearhart was not interested in the Foundation or athletics. Long was his guy, and he let Long work basically unsupervised.
Long was ordered by former UA System President B. Alan Sugg to hire Bobby Petrino. The first mistake Petrino made, Long fired him. He then appointed John L. Smith as his interim.
Without any due diligence, Long hired Bret Bielema. He looked good on paper, at least Wisconsin paper.
After his third season and a victory over Kansas State in the Liberty Bowl, Bielema’s agent said he thought his client would make a great NFL coach.
The Hogs posted an 8-5 season, then started slipping. Two years later — and a week after Long was fired — Bielema was fired, but he had a huge buyout Long had given him.
No one knew it, but the program was totally lacking in leadership.
Long had learned to like the use of the Foundation’s private jet.
He had put several layers between him and the people.
He tried to erase the tradition and history from Broyles’ days, and Long tried to eradicate any connection to the old Southwest Conference.
He mistakenly thought he was building an empire. Instead, he was building powerful enemies.
With Long out of the way, Chad Morris was hired to coach a team that lacked depth, talent and discipline.
Since Morris arrived, 28 players have left the program for one reason or the other.
The Hogs have some promising underclassmen, but the record is a dismal 2-7 and a loss to Western Kentucky would be devastating.
Frank Broyles wouldn’t have let this happen.
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