The overwhelming consensus is that former Razorback football coach and University of Arkansas Athletic Director Frank Broyles had a positive and far-reaching impact on anything he touched and everyone he met.
But we often eulogize the prominent among us as having had some special impact.
Frank, who passed away Monday, is different. On many levels.
Arkansans will find it difficult to name a handful of people who held such a bright spot in Arkansas’ history. Not just sports history. In terms of leadership, vision and action, Broyles earns a spot with Walton, Clinton, Hunt, Bumpers, Pryor, Tyson. And it’s possible he brought as much if not more awareness to the state than Cash, Helm and Campbell.
It’s been said the mark of a good coach is to be thinking several plays ahead of what is happening on the field or the court. Broyles learned that at Georgia Tech, Baylor and Missouri. He knew something was possible in Arkansas when he saw Fayetteville area homes and businesses adorned with “Go Hogs” posters during a trip to Fayetteville when he was a Baylor assistant coach.
He convinced UA Athletic Director Barnhill that his passion would be a perfect mix with the passion of the fan base. We know how that story played out.
Broyles could have left Arkansas when his coaching career ended, but he could see what college sports could be long before most others. And he wanted to be part of building that at Arkansas. He saw the need to diversify the sports programs. He was among the first coaches and athletic directors pushing for better facilities. When the Southwestern Conference was in trouble, he made what was then a risky move toward the Southeastern Conference.
One might argue that what Broyles contributed most to people and institutions with which he would coach and lead is captured in one word: Expectations. He expected the most from his players, and he set expectations with the state’s business and political leadership about what the university should be.
Expectations were always delivered with positive motivation, according to Scott Bull, Broyles’ senior quarterback for the 1975 season in which the Hogs delivered to their coach another SWC championship.
“He was so motivating. When I hear his voice today, I still get chill bumps. It’s that voice. Everybody knows it when they hear it. I can’t remember a discouraging thing he ever said in his life and that is so amazing,” Bull told Talk Business & Politics.
Chuck Dicus, also a player for Broyles and former head of the Razorback Foundation, said Broyles set expectations even for those he never met.
“Aside from being a coach he was a mentor, he was an inspiration. Not just to me, but literally thousands. The whole state of Arkansas and, I think people recognize this, our university up there would not be what it is today had it not been for what he did all those years. He put the Razorbacks on the map and his successes are well documented,” Dicus said.
We all have our own worlds in which we have the opportunity to motivate, to inspire, to positively encourage and to set clear expectations based on visionary leadership. No matter if it’s with one person, or thousands.
If we are to best honor Broyles’ legacy, in those moments in our worlds, let’s be Frank.