Coach Broyles

I just sat down to check my social media. 3:10 p.m. here in Montana. My Twitter feed has informed me that Coach Broyles has passed. My head is hanging low.

It was in 1958, I believe, when I attended a game at War Memorial Stadium on a cool September night, when the Hogs lost to a very good Baylor team. I was 6 years old at the time and living in Little Rock. And as usual I was boo-hooing with thick tears streaming down my dirty face because of the loss. However, I dutifully made my way down to the field to harass players for their chin straps, as all the kids did back then. Fans were allowed on the field after the game in those days. I didn’t get one, which prompted more boo-hooing, so I plopped down on the grass next to the exit that led to the Hog locker room to try to control myself. I felt an adult hand on my shoulder and looked up to see Coach Broyles smiling down at me. In his signature Georgia drawl, he asked, “Whut’s wrong with yew, yung fellah?” I cried, “Coach, why did we have to lose???!!!” He said, “Don’t yew whur-ree, son. One day soon, we gonna win 'em awl!” He gave me a couple of reassuring pats and walked away. And he was right. It took until '64, but he was right.

Fast forward to the late summer of 1968. I was an intern, writing for the Arkansas Gazette sports department, before that paper melded with the Democrat. The legendary Orville Henry, one of Frank’s best friends, was the sports editor. One afternoon, Coach Broyles walked into the sports department with a thick piece of green matting. The coach put it on the floor of the office, and, as Orville and the rest of us watched, he pulled a egg from his blazer’s pocket and dropped it from waist high onto the green mat. It did’t break. It was the newest thing for stadiums, he explained. “AstroTurf, Oh-vull. We gon’ git this stuff fo’ Fay-yut-vull and play fast foot-bawl.” And, by golly, he did just that.

Thanks for these memories, Coach. I will miss you.

Would this forum even exist if Coach Broyles had not done what he did for the Razorbacks? Would the Hogs be where they are without him? I think we were very lucky that 60 years ago he chose us. For that I am and will be eternally grateful. Such a fine gentleman!