Razorback football players Scott Bull and Chuck Dicus said Frank Broyles was an intimidating figure who used his persona in a positive way to motivate his players, and to eventually change for the better Arkansas’ image in the world of college sports.
Broyles, the football coach who led the University of Arkansas to its only national championship in 1964, died Monday (Aug. 14) in Fayetteville from complications of Alzheimer’s disease. He was 92. Broyles had been resting at his Fayetteville home under hospice care since suffering a stroke in July.
Bull was the senior starting quarterback in 1975 – Broyles’ last SWC championship – and was a captain of the 1975 squad. With a 31-10 win over Georgia in the Cotton Bowl, the Razorbacks finished with a national ranking of No. 7 in the AP Poll.
Bull, now the CEO of Pace Industries in Fayetteville, said he and Razorback teammates Richard LaFargue and Mike Kirkland visited the coach a few weeks ago.
“Coach Broyles lived a long life and a full life. He impacted so many people in such a positive way. His life will be a celebration. It is going to be sad not to have him but we will celebrate what a great, great man he was,” Bull told Talk Business & Politics after learning of Broyles’ passing.
Bull’s parents were from Arkansas and he and his father grew up listening to Razorback games on the car radio.
“I grew up wanting to be a Hog my whole life and I grew up thinking Frank Broyles was everything. In my senior year (at Jonesboro High School), when it was time to decide on where to go to school, I didn’t have a decision to make. I went on about four recruiting trips and all the schools were good. They all said the right thing, but they weren’t Arkansas and they weren’t Frank Broyles. He came to our house and sat with my mom and dad and explained how he would take care of me and he didn’t have to say anything else,” Bull said.
Continuing, Bull said: “To say he was an intimidating figure was an understatement. He was bigger than life to a freshman coming to play football for him. 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. That you could go through as much time as I did with him and can’t remember one discouraging thing he ever said. I was always motivated. He wanted every one of us to bring pride to the Razorbacks and he made sure we were were ready to do that every week.”
Dicus played wide receiver for the Razorbacks from 1968 to 1970, and when he ended his playing career he was the top receiver in team history. Dicus also served as president of the Razorback Foundaton from 1991 to 2008, was inducted into the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame in 1995, and was inducted into the National Football Foundation’s College Football Hall of Fame in 1999. He now works as a real estate agent with Wilson Auctioneers in Hot Springs.
“I am terribly saddened by the news, like we all are. I had the opportunity a couple of weeks back when I was up there [in Fayetteville] and took some time, went by the house and sat down and visited with him for about 30 minutes and I am so glad I did. I could tell at that point that the end was going to be rather soon. Like all of us that had such great affinity for Coach Broyles, you just hate to see someone that you feel that way about go through this,” Dicus told Talk Business & Politics.
Dicus, who attended high school in Garland, Texas, said the opportunities Broyles gave him changed his life.
“First one was in high school and he offered me a scholarship and thank goodness for that. I had some wonderful years playing for him. Second time is when he asked if I wanted to come and head up the Razorback Foundation. I will forever be indebted to him for reaching out to me like that,” he said.
Dicus said he is just one of thousands who benefited from Broyles’ work in Arkansas.
“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 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. IT’s a sad day. It really is. My heart goes out to his family, who I have known for almost 50 years. It’s just a very sad moment for all of us.”
Following are comments from Arkansas elected officials issued following Broyles’ passing.
• Former President and Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton
“I got to know Frank Broyles well in late 1977, his first year as athletic director for the University of Arkansas and my first year as attorney general, when I represented him and Coach Holtz in the well-known and controversial Orange Bowl case which culminated in one of the greatest victories in Arkansas football history. I worked with him throughout my tenure as governor, and we kept in touch afterward. He was a leader of character, intelligence, and determination, and on his watch Arkansas became a leader in many sports. A big part of his legacy came later in his efforts to find a cure for Alzheimer’s and his support for families struggling with it, including his work with the US Senate special committee on Alzheimer’s which Hillary helped to form. I’ll always be grateful to have known him and called him my friend.”
• Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson
“This is a day we knew would come, but it is still a great loss to learn of the passing of Coach Broyles. My first memory of Frank was cheering on the Hogs with my dad, but that was just part of his great legacy. He was an Arkansas treasure who devoted his life to others — from student-athletes to his support of Alzheimer’s research. He was an example for young people to follow, and that alone reflects a life well lived.”
• U.S. Rep. Steve Womack, R-Rogers
“Our state mourns the passing of a true legend, a man of remarkable achievement on the field, an ambassador for the state of Arkansas, and a real champion for the quality of life in the area he called home. His impact on the Razorback nation, and indeed, our state, will be one that will live forever. We join the entire Razorback nation in offering our deepest condolences to his wife Gen, and his entire family.”
• U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark.
“Today, college football lost one of the greats. Few people could match Frank Broyles’s dedication to the University of Arkansas: 57 years of devoted, distinguished service. In that time, he not only led teams to multiple Southwest Conference titles and a national championship; he also built an athletic department that was the envy of the South. Everyone involved in Arkansas athletics today owes him a huge debt of gratitude. I join Razorback fans in extending my deepest condolences to the Broyles family and the University of Arkansas.”
• U.S. Rep. French Hill, R-Little Rock
“Arkansas lost an incredible coach, athletic director, advocate, and friend in the passing of Frank Broyles today. He led the Razorbacks to their first National Championship, leaving his mark forever on Razorback and Arkansas history, and he inspired those who knew him to live lives of no regret. He will be missed, and his family and loved ones are in my prayers as they celebrate this life well lived.”
• Arkansas Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin
“Arkansas lost a legend today, and my thoughts and prayers are with the Broyles family during this difficult time. I first met Coach Broyles in 2005 when he was raising money for Alzheimer’s research, and over the years I had the honor of spending some limited but meaningful time with him. He was the consummate gentleman and kind. Coach Broyles was a visionary, a leader, a champion, and a tireless fighter for Alzheimer’s research. His imprint on Arkansas is deep, wide, and indelible.”
• Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge
“As a University of Arkansas alumnus, I understand fully the tremendous impact Coach Frank Broyles had on Razorback athletics and our state. The legacy he leaves behind, his devotion to Razorback fans everywhere and the countless lives of young men and women he touched along the way are things that make us all proud. Heaven will have no louder cheerleader for the Razorbacks than Coach Broyles. My thoughts and prayers are with his entire family and the University of Arkansas community. WPS!”
Northwest Arkansas Business Journal Editor Paul Gatling contributed to this report.