FAYETTEVILLE — Starting with emcee and former Razorback David Bazzel paying tribute to Frank Broyles’ late wife, Barbara Broyles, and widow, Gen Whitehead Broyles, through the Hog Call and Arkansas Fight Song at the finish, Saturday’s Celebration of Life at Walton Arena for University of Arkansas icon Frank Broyles couldn’t have been done better than if Broyles created it himself.
Actually Broyles pretty well did. For living a larger than life lifef with so many facets gave speakers Jack Broyles, the eldest of Frank and Barbara’s six children, retired UA Chancellor Dan Ferritor and former Razorbacks football players Jerry Jones, (recently inducted NFL Hall of Fame owner of the Dallas Cowboys), former player and UA coach Ken Hatfield and former quarterback Quinn Grovey, now the football color analyst on the Razorbacks Radio Network, plenty to work with as men whose lives that Frank Broyles touched.
Broyles touched their lives varying from father, to coach, athletic director, nationally acclaimed broadcaster paired as the 9-years college football color analyst with Keith Jackson on ABC’s Game of the Week, to authority on Alzheimer’s caregiving. He authored the Alzheimer’s Playbook, published free worldwide with advice to Alzheimer’s caregivers after giving care to Barbara through her death from Alzheimer’s, ironically the illness eventually took Frank’s life, too.
At 144-58-5, Broyles remains Arkansas’ all-time winningest coach and only national championship football coach, the 1964 team that included Hatfield and Jones went 11-0 beating favored Nebraska in the Cotton Bowl. And as athletic director built Arkansas into unparalleled all-sports successes and facilities.
But he was so much more said Jones.
“I wasn’t really important to coach Broyles and what we are celebrating here today at all,” Jones said. “Coach Broyles was essential to my life, though. What I saw was the way I would like to be.”
Jones said Broyles instilled confidence in his players though he confessed one exception.
“I remember I asked coach Broyles what must have been a baffling question,” Jones said. “Because he told, me ‘Jerry I’ve only recruited two genius IQs since I’ve been football coach at the University of Arkansas and you’re not one of them.’”
Jones laughed. Then he recalled when Broyles practiced the Razorbacks in Houston rather than the bowl week distractions of Dallas prepping the ’64 team for the Cotton Bowl, that “Coach took us on a field trip” that inspired Jones’ vision for building the Dallas Cowboys beyond state of the art AT&T Stadium.
“He took us to the Astrodome,” Jones recalled. “No games had been played there but it just been built and completely ready to go. I thought, ‘This is Mars. Forty-five years later I’m thinking of building a stadium and it’s because of what I experienced because of coach Broyles.”
Yet Arkansas’ superb facilities are down the pecking order what defines Frank Broyles, Jones said.
“Long after we forget these great facilities and forget the victories, we’ll never forget coach Broyles,” Jones said. “He really has been Arkansas’ greatest ambassador.”
And Broyles as the UA’s greatest fundraiser. Ferritor said, citing Broyles and the late Willard Gatewood, later the UA chancellor, co-chairing the UA’s Campaign for books that added “more than 100,000 books” to the UA Library, then the project to save Old Main, the UA’s signature and historic academic structure plus the $1 billion fundraising Campaign for the 21st Century.
“For Old Mai,n we made calls that Dan Ferritor and coach Broyles would like to see you,” Ferritor said. “We never got a refusal and I don’t think it was was because they wanted to see Dan Ferritor. Old Main would not be there today without Frank Broyles. He would tell them, ‘I want you to help my school. Frank was an alum of Georgia Tech but he always called the University of Arkansas, ‘My school.’”
After citing numerous examples of Broyles’ influencing his life, Hatfield addressed Broyles unseen presence
“Coach,” Hatfield said addressing Broyles’ unseen presence. “You gave us hope and you gave us confidence and you showed the country that Arkansas mattered.”
It mattered enough that Hatfield said when coaching the Hogs he asked Broyles, “Would you love me if we go 5-5?’ Coach said, ‘Yes, Ken I would still love you. I’d miss you, too.”
Grovey, lettering 1987-90 as Arkansas’ greatest African-American quarterback to date, recalled growing up in Duncan, Okla., enamored with Broyles’ Georgia drawl on the ABC Game of the Week and imitating him while playing in his neighborhood.
“Imagine a boy in the ‘hood with a fake Southern accent imitating Frank Broyles,” Grovey said. “It made for some interesting Saturdays.”
To meet Broyles upon coming to Arkansas to play for Hatfield was a gift, Grovey said. But Broyles’ greatest gift came much later.
“Coach Broyles gave me the Alzheimer’s Playbook,” Grovey said. “My mother died of it in 2015. Before coach gave me the book I was doing everything wrong. Because of Coach Broyles I could give her the care that I hadn’t known how to give.”
The greatest gift that Frank Broyles gave continues giving through the Frank Broyles Foundation Supporting Alzheimer’s Caregivers run by his daughter, Betsy Broyles Arnold, and granddaughter, Molly Arnold Gay.