Bowl game reminds Broyles of Missouri time

Friday, January 2, 2004

FAYETTEVILLE ---- Some veteran Arkansas fans still haven't forgiven the late Bowden Wyatt for taking the Cadillac they gave him for winning the 1954 Southwest Conference championship and driving it to Knoxville to coach Tennessee.

So you'd presume there are still some Missouri fans who haven't forgiven Frank Broyles for saying, "Barnie, what took you so long?"

Broyles crossed the border after but one year coaching the Tigers in 1957 to accept the late John Barnhill's offer to coach Arkansas.

Now an icon turning 79 the day after Christmas, Broyles hasn't coached since 1976 but still reigns in his 30th year as Arkansas' athletic director.

The Arkansas vs. Missouri Independence Bowl matchup on New Year's Eve in Shreveport prompts review of Broyles' one Mizzou year and following his heart to Fayetteville.

The late Don Faurot, himself a legend as the Missouri athletic director and former coach who hired Broyles and then the late Dan Devine as his coaching successors, was the one man whose reproach would have made Broyles feel he bailed on Mizzou.

Faurot never reproached him, Broyles said ---- especially considering what Faurot wanted to do with Broyles' 1-year contract when the 1957 Tigers started 5-1-1 and even when they finished 5-4-1.

"When we were 5-1-1," Broyles said, "Faurot came up to me and said, 'We have a statute in the state that we can't give anybody more than a 1-year contract. We are going to get that changed and give you a 3-year contract.

"And we are going to raise you from $12,000 to $15,000. And so about a week before the season is over he came up and said, 'I am really upset.' And I said, 'What is it?' He said, 'They are not going to change that statute. And instead of raising from $12,000 to $15,000, all they are going to raise you is $1,000.

"So when I left, he said, 'I don't blame you.' He didn't know that I would have gone anyway. But he said, 'I promised to raise you to $15,000 and a 3-year contract and I didn't fulfill either one of them.'

"Sports Illustrated wrote a big story about (Bear) Bryant (leaving Texas A&M for Alabama) and myself breaking contracts. I didn't break a contract. I just had one year. My contract was over Jan. 1."

When Broyles said that he "would have gone anyway," that's no slap at Missouri, he asserts.

Coaching Arkansas was Broyles' dream since he first started coming to Fayetteville as a Baylor assistant in 1948.

"I loved it," Broyles said of Missouri. "I was very happy. I would have been there as long as they would have me if Arkansas hadn't come along. That was a job that I applied for twice before in '53 (when Bowden Wyatt replaced Otis Douglas) and '55 (when Jack Mitchell succeeded Wyatt)."

Arkansas athletic director Barnhill took note of the young Georgia Tech graduate's persistence. Especially when Broyles was assisting his Georgia Tech mentor, Bobby Dodd, against Arkansas in the Cotton Bowl that Tech won on New Year's Day, 1955.

"When I saw Barnhill when we played against them in the Cotton Bowl at Georgia Tech," Broyles said, "he said, 'Well, come see me when you get to be a head coach.' So when he called me after I became a head coach I told him I'd be there. It wasn't that I wasn't happy at Missouri. Don Faurot had been great to me."

Coaching for Faurot prepared him for coaching for Barnhill, Broyles said, regarding two of the most honest, hard-working athletic director/coaches to grace college athletics.

"John Barnhill was just the same as Don Faurot," Broyles said. "Absolutely. Both were great to work for. 'How can I help? What can I do to help?' That's how both of them treated me. I just got a Christmas letter from Don Faurot's wife, Mary. I've received it for 46 years, telling about the family and what she's doing. She's 95. It tells about the children, grandchildren, great grandchildren and the great-great grandchildren."

Broyles recalled his hiring at Missouri upon meeting with the Board of Trustees and Faculty Committee in Columbia. The then-young Georgia Tech assistant quickly grasped he had vaulted from darkhorse candidate to frontrunner, though he was going to have to work through "the Missouri plan" mandating Missouri recruiting based on Missouri boys.

"I would have taken the job under any circumstances," Broyles said of when he and his wife, Barbara, were invited to interview in Columbia. "When we got up there, it was nine below zero. We were at the Tiger Hotel, and some of the big names had already turned it down.

"They had a list of five people to interview and I went and interviewed and convinced them I could do it with the Missouri boys if they let me integrate. So I went back to the hotel and I said, 'Barbara, we have to make up our mind whether I want the job because they are going to offer it to me in the next hour.'

"She said, 'No, look at the paper here. They've got four more people to interview.' I said, 'Barbara, they are going to offer me the job in the next hour.' Sure enough, the chairman of the Board called and said, 'Let's go to dinner.' And they wanted Barbara to come on and they offered me the job and I accepted. I knew they were going to offer from the interview and the questions they asked."

Broyles signed Missouri's first two black players, Norris Stevenson and Mel West.

"They both became All-Big Eight," Broyles said.

The State of Arkansas was still hemorrhaging from the Little Rock Central High integration crisis that required federal troops in 1957 when Broyles left Missouri. He signed the Razorbacks' first black scholarship football player, running back Jon Richardson, in 1969.

"We did it when the time was right," Broyles said.

SMU had already integrated SWC football with wide receiver Jerry Levias before Richardson broke Arkansas' football scholarship color line, but Broyles hired the SWC's first black head coach when Nolan Richardson had his first of 17 Razorback basketball seasons in 1985-86.

Back to Broyles at Mizzou. Inheriting a team that was 4-5-1, 1-9 and 4-5-1 from 1954-56, Broyles' Tigers went 2-1-1 nonconference and started 3-0 in the Big Eight over Iowa State, Nebraska and Colorado before running into the Bud Wilkinson-coached Oklahoma Sooners, and then Kansas State and Kansas.

"We played Oklahoma when they were No. 1," Broyles said. "Our claim to fame is we were the last team they beat on their 45 victory streak. They got beat the next week. The big story was Missouri is playing Oklahoma for the Orange Bowl.

"Bud Wilkinson talked about how they were going to have a hard time and he didn't know how they were going to beat us and whatever. Well, they beat us (39-14). Then we played Kansas State and they scored with 10 seconds on the clock to beat us 14-13, and then Kansas beat us 9-7 with a field goal on the last play of the game.

"So instead of going to a bowl, I was sick. We had lost two games with less than 30 seconds on the clock. I can see that (Kansas field goal) right now and it was 47 years ago. I can see the play."

He can also still see his offense struggling, and haunting visions of Georgia Tech coach Bobby Dodd with the extra point missed, the lone time his Hogs played Mizzou. Arkansas lost, 7-6, to Dan Devine's Tigers in 1963 at Little Rock.

"I remember what Coach Dodd always told me," Broyles said, "He didn't want to score first and miss the extra point. He'd rather not score than that. I don't remember much about the game other than there wasn't much offense. We had not decided on a quarterback. We were shuffling all year long. I don't think it was so much a great defensive game as lack of offense on both sides."

The next year Broyles stuck with quarterback Freddie Marshall (when Marshall's health permitted), and Arkansas went 11-0 and won the national championship.

Devine's legendary Mizzou tenure from 1958-70, including 11-0 in 1960, made it easy for Tiger fans to change their stripes from hurt to indifference about Broyles' exit.

"Devine was a good friend," Broyles said, "and did a great job ---- with my players."

Emphasizing Devine really was a great coach, Broyles laughed, "That's what he told me ---- 'Frank, you should have stayed. Look what I did with your players.' We did have a great freshman team and they went on to the Orange §Bowl twice (1959 and '60)."

Considering his Arkansas success, it figures Broyles would have done a great job, too, had he stayed with Mizzou. But discontent would have gnawed at him whenever the Arkansas job was available if he didn't pursue it.

Coaching a state university, both without major in-state Division I competition and in a state without competing professional major league teams and in the Southwest Conference Broyles knew well from his Baylor days, was his dream that never died.

Well, the SWC part expired when Broyles wisely took Arkansas to the greener SEC pastures before the SWC folded, but that's another story.

"We were very happy at Missouri," Broyles said, "but Arkansas is what I wanted. From the time I came up here coaching at Baylor in 1948, I made up my mind if I was going to be a head coach, this was the job I wanted. And every time I saw John Barnhill, I told him some day I wanted to be his coach."

A 10-year wait for an impatient man driven, no wonder he said, 'Barnie, what took you so long?"

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: