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BROYLES: Right Man, Right Time
Dan Jenkins
October 03, 2007
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October 03, 2007

Broyles: Right Man, Right Time


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From SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, November 8, 1965

AW, YEW BET. There's White River channel cat—Frank Broyles likes it better than steak; ask anyone—and strawberries as big and red as Harry Jones's helmet, and fried chicken so tender and flavory it makes a man want to weep. There's good duck hunting and better fishing. You mean you've never throwed a hook in Bull Shoals? There's the Watermelon Festival in Hope, the Grape Festival in Tontitown, the Diamond Cave in Jasper, the Brackenridge Lodge Doll Museum in Eureka Springs and the Oil Jubilee in Magnolia. General Douglas MacArthur got himself born in Little Rock, of course, and there was Fay Templeton, the actress; Bob Burns, the comedian; and Albert Pike—he wrote something or other. You also got to consider that Mr. Winthrop Rockefeller, sitting up there on his hill, likes it pretty good. It isn't as though the state of Arkansas never had anything to be proud of before Frank Broyles taught the Razorbacks to bristle and snout. But God love Frank Broyles, and don't cash his personal check. Frame it.

There is a special kind of hysteria in Arkansas now. It is the kind that comes only with a winning college football team. It dabs small, rosy blotches of pride on the cheeks of everyone. And it spreads like measles. A man comes along—the right man at the right time—to organize things, rally the people, put fire in the athletes, build a winning tradition, and, suddenly, there is an empire. Arkansas is the newest, and those old familiar cries—"Boomer Sooner," "Hook 'em Horns" and "Roll, Tide"—are being drowned out by a curious new one: "Whoooo, pig, sooey." And coach Frank Broyles—you will simply have to forgive this—is the sooey with the fringe on top.

Thanks to Broyles, a tall, talkative, excitable, evangelistic native of Georgia, the hysteria is reaching out in all directions. The banker, the farmer, the mechanic, the housewife, the grade-school student—they are all afflicted. They wear red, the university color, almost all of the time, but especially to the games. The people put signs on their cars, and banners on their homes and businesses. They jam the enlarged stadiums in both Fayetteville and Little Rock, whether the opponent happens to be mortal enemy Texas or easy prey North Texas State. They talk football and think football all across the state.

Small wonder for the hysteria. On Oct. 30 Arkansas won its 19th game in a row, 31-0 over Texas A&M, and this happens to be the longest winning streak extant among major colleges. The victory also kept the Razorbacks seriously in the running for what would be their second straight national title.

All of this seems just and proper in the happily mad Ozarks because even Frank Broyles admits that this team, at this stage, is his best ever. Led by redshirt junior Jon Brittenum at quarterback and wingback Harry Jones, it is quick and fiery as always—like Texas and Alabama at their best, except bigger. It is like Oklahoma in its unbeatable days, except smoother. And then there's the defense. Quick, smart, alert and positively vulpine at seizing on mistakes, it has shredded its victims.

Strangely enough, the man who has put all of this together—the winning teams, the spirit, the organization—is relatively unknown outside the coaching fraternity. Who is Frank Broyles, anyhow?

He is, first of all, rich, or rapidly getting that way. Broyles's salary at Arkansas has risen through five raises in eight years from $15,000 to $23,500. The contract for his TV program in Little Rock, seen throughout the state, nets him $10,000 more. Such lucrative arrangements do not make a man wealthy, of course, except that you can spend very little in Arkansas. Especially if people keep framing your checks instead of cashing them.

You would never guess, however, that Broyles would like to be wealthy—that he would like to do anything but play golf and coach football. He does not ever smoke or drink, and he kicks off his shoes under the table of a fancy restaurant. His dialect is as Southern as a plantation owner's, yet his manner of dress is neat, almost Ivy League. He loves to talk. "One thing about Frank," says an appreciative football writer, "is that you call him up for a column, and you're stuck for an hour, getting eight columns."

Like most coaches Broyles is an incessant worrier, which forces him into nervous soliloquies, but when things are going well he is given to manic fits of verbal elation. He is lavish in his praise of his staff, to whom he delegates authority with ease and assurance. And he makes lightning decisions. "That's the main thing I learned from [ Georgia Tech coach Bobby] Dodd," he says. "You have to get good assistants and trust them, let them do their jobs and make your mind up quickly."

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