Frank Broyles' obituary speaks impressively for itself. Even more impressive is what whose lives he touched speak about him.
Frank Broyles’ obituary speaks impressively for itself. Even more impressive is what whose lives he touched speak about him. Officially 50 years, from 1958-2007 whether as athletic director, head football coach or four years both, Frank Broyles personified the Arkansas Razorbacks and the University of Arkansas and even the State of Arkansas. To those knowing about him, that never stopped from his 2008 retirement to athletic director emeritus to his death Monday afternoon at 92 after complications from Alzheimer’s. Ironically, Alzheimer’s was the very disease from which came perhaps his greatest contribution to a portion of mankind with the Alzheimer’s Playbook he authored advising Alzheimer’s caregivers from his experience tending to his late wife, Barbara and spawned the Frank Broyles Foundation that his daughter, Betsy carries on helping families of the Alzheimer’s afflicted. On the field Broyles won more than any Razorbacks football coach, 149-62-6 including seven Southwest Conference championships and the 1964 national championship. As athletic director he took a program basically of football and underemphasized sports just to fill out NCAA requirements and turned it into an all-round powerhouse including Hall of Fame basketball coaches Eddie Sutton and Nolan Richardson, with Richardson’s 1994 Razorback winning the national championships, the 42 national championships of men’s track coach John McDonnell, the Southwest Conference and SEC baseball championships compiled by Norm DeBriyn and the SEC championships of current baseball coach Dave Van Horn and an array of facilities from Walton Arena to Baum Stadium, Tyson Indoor track and the outdoor track at John McDonnell Field, and three football expansions of Razorback (now Reynolds Razorback) Stadium and hired conference championship winning football coaches Lou Holtz, Ken Hatfield, Danny Ford and Houston Nutt. Most importantly to the Razorbacks’ future, given the Southwest Conference ultimately dissolved with remnants either in the dysfunctional Big 12 or lesser conferences than the Big 12, he guided the UA from the SWC to the SEC. He accomplished it all via clairvoyance asserts Bill Gray, a quarterback-defensive back for Broyles from 1962-64 and later an associate athletic director under Broyles. “ As a player and as an administrator I realized that Coach could foresee things,” Gray said Monday. He saw things that you and no one else ever thought about it. Things that everybody didn’t have a clue about. I don’t know he did it, but he just could tell what was going to happen long before other people.” Foreseeing the future kept Broyles both ahead of his time, and occasionally ahead of himself with novel plans he couldn’t wait to implement until weighing some second thoughts about the some. “Coach would come to work with new ideas all the time,” Gray said. “I would always wait until the next day if that was what he really wanted to do. Because about half the time after a day he wouldn’t. He’d run it through his mind and then really decide if that’s what he wanted to do or didn’t want to do.” Inherited as sophomore that Broyles redshirted in 1958, Harold Horton of DeWitt lettered for SWC championship teams from 1959-61 then, though a high school coach in Forrest City at the time, was brought back by Broyles in 1968 to replace the legendary Wilson Matthews as linebackers coach while Matthews took charge of the Razorback Foundation and fund-raising. Horton coached Razorbacks defense through 1980, won national championships head coaching UCA and then returned under Broyles in administration eventually following the Matthews path to heading the Razorback Foundation. “I can say this with all sincerity,” Horton said Monday. “Coach Broyles gave me every opportunity I ever had.” Much of Broyles Hall of Fame coach reputation was built on his ability to hire great assistants, national champion/Super Bowl winners Jimmy Johnson and Barry Switzer and Super Bowl winner Joe Gibbs are among them, and delegating the assistants to do their jobs to the fullest while overseeing as a chairman of the board. However, Horton asserts Broyles actually was the most active in all phases head coach he ever saw. “Not necessarily on the field,” Horton said. “But in meetings and on film, Coach Broyles coached every phase of it, offense, defense and special teams. But bigger than his victories, and he sure won his share, was his impact on people’s lives.” Horton recalled taking Switzer to see Broyles recently with Broyles gravely ill and his memory fading in and out. “Barry said, ‘Coach, I love you,” Horton said. “And Coach said, ‘Barry, I love you too.’ That still makes chills come over me. He meant so much to so many. He’s at the top of what coaching is all about and it’s about others and relationships and doing for his players. And that’s what he did for so many people.” Many, many people, Hatfield said from Broyles work as a coach, athletic director, ABC national game of the week color analyst, and the Alzheimer’s Playbook. “Coach Broyles made the difference in so many lives not just in Arkansas but throughout the nation,” Hatfield said. “One of my last really good visits with him was at a baseball game. I’m so glad he could enjoy retirement and look at the legacy he’s leaving.” Broyles scholarship integrated the football Razorbacks signing Jon Richardson of Little Rock and Horace Mann in 1969 but it was 1973 that he signed the first large contingent of black athletes. Dennis Winston of Marianna and later a Super Bowl champion linebacker with the Pittsburgh Steelers and a coach himself including the 1997 season under Ford at Arkansas, was among that 1973 black athletes from a class so instrumental in winning Broyles his last SWC and Cotton Bowl championships in 1975. Going into coaching himself gave Winston a greater appreciation of Broyles the coach, Winston said. “Coach Broyles was a great man and a great evaluator of talent,” Winston said. “He recruited the best athletes in the country. And he made sure we did right things. And most of his guys did the right things. Most of the guys he coached became professionals, not just football players but professional men. I’m glad I was a part of his life and he was a part of my life.” DeBriyn was hired by Athletic Director George Cole in 1969 but it was Broyles in 1976 who offered DeBriyn the opportunity to cease working half time teaching physical education and half coaching baseball and just coach the Hogs. Three years later DeBriyn’s Razorbacks finished national runner-up at the College World Series. “I remember the biggest impact he had on me was Lon Farrell (the associate athletic director) calling me while we were playing TCU and saying, ‘Coach Broyles wants you to go full-time if you’re willing to do it. And first building George Cole Field and then Baum and his planning for it. What a visionary. And how it all blossomed, football, baseball, track, tennis, and funding the women’s program and getting to the SEC. He made such an impact.”