FAYETTEVILLE — Frank Broyles has told the story dozens of times throughout his remarkable career, but felt like it needed to be emphasized once again this month.
Broyles was a young backfield coach at Baylor when he first fell in love with Arkansas. The Bears were staying at the Mountain Inn in 1948, preparing for a game against the Razorbacks. After a team dinner, Broyles remembers the team taking a stroll around town to soak up some of the sights and sounds.
“I saw every car with a Hog on it and every store with a Hog on it,” Broyles said. “Every street had a Hog on it. The sidewalk had the Hogs on it. I said, ‘Gosh, this is something spectacular. I sure hope some day I might be the coach here.’”
Broyles’ hopes came true nine years later, when he was hired as Arkansas’ coach after the 1957 season. But he’s more proud of is this fact: he never left.
It has been nearly 56 years since the 89-year-old Broyles became a Razorback and the long-standing affiliation will come to a close when his tenure as a fund-raiser for the Razorback Foundation expires Monday. While the date may end what the patriarch of Arkansas athletics has repeatedly called a “labor of love,” the impact of his wide-ranging contributions as coach and athletic director will last forever.
“The Razorbacks are what Frank Broyles made,” said former Arkansas trainer Dean Weber, who has recently moved into a role with the Razorback Foundation. “He had great staffs and great people and great supporters. But without his vision and his passion to make this thing work, and to build it, it never would’ve gotten done.”
The Razorbacks were Broyles’ passion over his career, beginning with his 19-year tenure as coach. The Georgia native went 144-58-5 with the program, won seven Southwest Conference titles and led Arkansas to a share of the 1964 national championship.
Former Oklahoma State coach Pat Jones grew up in the shadow of War Memorial Stadium and said Broyles’ work in that regard was clear during his youth. Jones attended Arkansas games with his father and remembered having room to play ball in the open, grass end zone seating in the 1950s. But that freedom to roam changed after Broyles’ success with the Razorbacks paved the way to stadium expansion.
“He changed the way the state was viewed. He changed the way the University of Arkansas was viewed,” Jones said. “He changed a lot of things. … It’s epic stuff.”
Broyles brought talented players to Arkansas throughout his coaching career. He also attracted great assistants, who played a pivotal role in the success.
The Broyles coaching tree is one of the most expansive in football. There are 24 former players or assistants who became head coaches including Jones, Barry Switzer, Jimmy Johnson, Joe Gibbs, Hayden Fry, Johnny Majors, Doug Dickey, Jackie Sherrill and Ken Hatfield. His reputation led to the creation of the Broyles Award, which has recognized the top assistant coach in college football since 1996.
“He was a great CEO,” said former Razorback Loyd Phillips, who won the Outland Trophy in 1966. “If I was a CEO of Walmart or somewhere, I would follow Coach Broyles’ example. I’d get people around me that could do the job. He didn’t micromanage. He let his people work, and after his coaches left the program, they went on and were very successful. That speaks for itself.”
But Broyles’ success as a coach over 19 seasons was just one piece of his legacy.
He was even more influential as the program’s athletic director from 1973-2007.
Broyles also hired successful coaches like Eddie Sutton, Nolan Richardson, John McDonnell and Dave Van Horn. He oversaw the creation of the Razorback Foundation. Broyles’ vision and enthusiasm played a critical role in a facilities boom that included Bud Walton Arena and Baum Stadium.
Broyles also orchestrated Arkansas’ move from the SWC to the Southeastern Conference in 1992. The risky decision paid dividends for the program with the SEC now the most lucrative conference in college athletics.
“He’s been a great example,” said Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, who played for Broyles’ national championship team. “He’s certainly not only a man of exceptional integrity and character, but he also has been very talented and accomplished, very organized. With not only what he accomplished as a coach, but as an athletic director and how he has made decisions. How he has attracted people to him. He’s attracted the best, first in football, and then administratively.”
Jones’ high regard for Broyles was evident earlier this month, when former coaches, players, employees and friends gathered to honor him as his retirement neared.
Jones was the guest speaker for a golf tournament honoring Broyles and choked up a couple of times while expressing the coach’s impact on his success. In fact, Jones said he wouldn’t be owner of the Cowboys without Broyles’ influence.
“The facts are, I’ve spent a lifetime … I was 17, maybe 16, when I first met Coach Broyles,” Jones said. “He’s been a real substantive part of my life.”
Jones is not alone in his respect for his former coach.
There was a who’s who list that paid tribute during a banquet celebrating Broyles’ accomplishments earlier this month. Majors, former Razorback great Bill Montgomery and former Arkansas coach Houston Nutt were among the speakers during the banquet. Hatfield, former Arkansas coach and ESPN college football analyst Lou Holtz, Gov. Mike Beebe, Executive Director of the American Football Coaches Association Grant Teaff, and Keith Jackson, Broyles’ former ABC college football broadcast partner, also honored him with video tributes.
“He’s Frank of the Ozarks,” said Phillips, who also attended. “He’s a tremendous man, and he’s done so much for the state of Arkansas. He’s been a tremendous ambassador. … When I see him and he says ‘Hi Loyd,’ and walks over and shakes my hand, it still gives me butterflies. I have tremendous respect for him.”
Jones said it’s impossible for such an influential person to retire. In a way, he’s right.
Broyles didn’t really “retire” after stepping down as Arkansas athletic director in 2007. He may have moved out of his spacious office in the Broyles Center, but carved out a new spot in the Razorback Foundation.
“There’s one thing about being a Razorback, you never get it out of your system,” Broyles said earlier this month. “It never leaves your mind.”
Broyles held regular office hours for much of the past six years and remained a valuable help in rallying support. He was always available to visit with donors, potential donors or other guests. His enthusiasm for the Razorbacks never changed.
“From the time I got here to even as we stand here today, Coach Broyles has been strong and stood long and he has had a tremendous tenure,” Arkansas basketball coach Mike Anderson said. “Not many ADs stay at that school for so long.
“It shows his love and passion for the state of Arkansas and not only that, but he has a lot of pride in what he has built.”
Broyles said he has enjoyed his time at the Razorback Foundation, saying it gave him a chance to remain close to the program without the stress. But he is eager for the next venture now that his affiliation with the Razorbacks is ending.
Broyles plans to devote more time to the Frank and Barbara Broyles Foundation CareGivers United. Broyles started the Alzheimer’s education organization — his daughter Betsy Arnold is the president — after his wife, Barbara, died from complications in 2004. He wrote a playbook on Alzheimer’s education that has published 800,000 copies and been written in 11 languages.
It’s part of what his daughter has called his “second legacy.”
After a 56-year career that produced championships, legends, a strong athletic department and state of the art facilities, it’s clear his first won’t be matched.
“It’s been a honeymoon,” Broyles said. “There’s no other word for it.”