ADVERTISEMENT

Broyles found the right fit

Short Missouri stint paved the way at UA

By Bob Holt

Sunday, December 28, 2003

Frank Broyles has been at Arkansas for so long, 46 years, it’s hard to imagine him running his own program anywhere else.

But Broyles, the Razorbacks’ football coach for 19 seasons from 1958-1976 and athletic director since 1973, was a college head coach before he came to Arkansas.

In 1957, Broyles finally got his shot to be a head coach at Missouri, Arkansas’ opponent on Wednesday in the Independence Bowl.

Broyles’ stay at Missouri was so brief, one season, and so long ago that it isn’t common knowledge he coached the Tigers.

"Frank Broyles doesn’t have a big niche in Missouri football history," said Clay Cooper, a Tigers assistant coach from 1947-1975. "But he did some good things here, and we were sorry to see him leave."

After coaching Missouri to a 5-4-1 record, Broyles left to become Arkansas’ coach.

"I had a wonderful time at Missouri, nothing but fond memories," Broyles said. "But Arkansas was the job I wanted, and that’s been proven because I’ve been here 46 years."

Broyles, who turned 79 on Friday and is going strong in his 31 st year as the Razorbacks athletic director, said he will be forever grateful to the late Don Faurot for giving him a chance to be Missouri’s coach.

"I was already 32 and thought the world had passed me by," Broyles said. "I had been an assistant coach 10 years and thought maybe I’d never get a chance to be a head coach. I went after the Missouri job as hard as I could."

Broyles was an assistant at Georgia Tech, his alma mater, when he interviewed for the Missouri job, which became open when Faurot stepped down as the Tigers coach after the 1956 season but stayed on as athletic director.

Among the other hopefuls Broyles beat out for the Missouri job was Michigan State assistant Bob Devaney, who later became the head coach at Nebraska and led the Cornhuskers to national championships in 1970 and 1971.

The Razorbacks won a share of the 1964 national championship under Broyles by beating Devaney’s Cornhuskers in the Cotton Bowl.

Broyles said he didn’t know Devaney was among the competition for the Missouri job but that he became convinced the job was his after meeting with Faurot and members of the university’s board of curators.

Broyles said that after his interview went so well, he told his wife, Barbara, they needed to be ready with an answer.

"We were staying at the Tiger 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,’ " Broyles said. "She said, 'No, look at the newspaper here. They've got four more people to interview.’

"I said, ‘Barbara, they are going to offer me the job in the next hour.’ About 10 minutes later, the chairman of the board called and said, ‘Let’s have dinner,’ and they offered me the job."

Broyles said he quickly accepted the offer — a one-year contract for $12,000 — even though it was minus-9 degrees that January day in Columbia, Mo., and Faurot had implemented what was called "The Missouri Plan" with the goal being to limit recruiting to the state of Missouri.

Broyles didn’t like the idea of limiting his recruiting area, but he told Missouri’s administrators he could work under the plan if he were allowed to integrate the football program.

Missouri’s first black players, running backs Norris Stevenson of St. Louis and Mel West of Jefferson, were recruited by Broyles. They were part of a talented recruiting class that contributed heavily to Missouri making back-to-back Orange Bowl appearances after the 1959 and 1960 seasons.

"I just think we were lucky to have Frank Broyles here because he got us some good players so we could have some good years," said John Kadlec, a Missouri assistant coach from 1953-1959 and 1966-1977 who now works as a radio analyst for Tigers games. "There’s no doubt he helped us go to two Orange Bowls."

Broyles said Dan Devine, his successor as Missouri’s coach, always credited his recruiting with helping the Tigers end a bowl drought that went back to 1949.

"Dan was a good friend," Broyles said. "He used to kid me and say, ‘Frank, you should have stayed. Look what I did with your players.’ "

After Broyles’ first seven games at Missouri in that 1957 season, there was talk the Tigers might be Orange Bowl-bound. Missouri was 5-1-1 and ranked No. 19 going into its game against No. 2 Oklahoma, which came to Columbia with a 46-game winning streak dating to 1953.

"A lot of writers had been hinting for several weeks that the Sooners were ready to be taken," Broyles recalled in his autobiography Hog Wild, written with Jim Bailey. "We were set up for the kill, and there was nothing we could do about it.

"In addition to their considerable physical tools, the Sooners had been handed the underdog’s incentive."

Oklahoma, coached by Bud Wilkinson, beat Missouri 39-14 before the Sooners had their winning streak stopped the next game, a 7-0 loss to Notre Dame.

The Tigers lost their last two games to Kansas State (23-21) and at Kansas (9-7) and weren’t invited to a bowl game.

Despite the disappointing finish, it was Missouri’s first winning record in five seasons and Cooper and Kadlec praised Broyles for the organizational and recruiting skills he showed.

Faurot, who invented the Split-T offense that revolutionized football by utilizing the option running play for the quarterback, was a hands-on coach at practice. Broyles was a CEOtype who delegated more authority to his assistants.

"He knew how to manage people and manage time," Kadlec said. "There was never a wasted minute at practice."

Broyles also brought a new intensity to recruiting. Faurot’s assistants had taught physical education classes, but Broyles had them stop teaching so they could spend all of their work time away from practice on recruiting.

Missouri’s best recruiter was Broyles.

"He charmed everybody," said Cooper, who became Broyles’ recruiting coordinator. "That’s what made him so good."

During the 1957 season, Broyles said, Faurot approached him about getting a raise and contract extension. Faurot wanted to give Broyles a three-year deal with an annual salary of $15,000, Broyles said, which would have been a $3,000 raise.

But the last week of the season, Faurot came to his coach and said Missouri’s administration wouldn’t agree to those terms, Broyles said, and that the best offer Faurot could make was a $1,000 raise with another oneyear contract.

"Don told me, ‘Frank, I’m sorry, and I’m very disappointed,’ " Broyles said. "The next week Arkansas offered me the job, and I took it and Don said, ‘I don’t blame you.’ "

But according to the book Ol’ Mizzou, A Story of Missouri Football, written by Bob Broeg, Faurot was caught off guard by Broyles’ departure.

"At the time, Broyles’ decision to leave came as a shock to Missouri and as a blow to its pride," Broeg wrote. "President Elmer Ellis did not believe the news until Faurot and faculty representative Art Nebel brought Broyles to Ellis’ home.

"Faurot was embarrassed. He had given Arkansas Athletic Director John Barnhill permission to talk to Broyles, confident Frank would not go."

Broyles had been interested in Arkansas for several years because it was a university in a state without pro sport teams or another major college rival. He applied for the Arkansas job after the 1952 and 1954 seasons, but Barnhill told him each time he needed head coaching experience.

The third time applying for the Arkansas job, after Jack Mitchell left for Kansas, was the right time for Broyles. His response to Barnhill’s job offer reportedly was, "Barnie, what took you so long?"

Broyles said he got a four-year contract at Arkansas worth $15,000 annually.

Many Missouri fans were upset Broyles left after one season.

"Some people resented him, but I certainly didn’t blame him," Kadlec said. "Arkansas, quite frankly, put more emphasis on the football program than Missouri did at that time, and Barnhill gave him a better contract.

"We wish he would have stayed, but sometimes it doesn’t work that way."

Missouri got some payback against Broyles in 1963, when the Tigers went to Little Rock and beat the Razorbacks 7-6.

Broyles said he never felt any ill will from Faurot, who died in 1995. Broyles said he still gets a Christmas card every year from Faurot’s wife, Mary.

"Don was a great friend who helped me every way he could," Broyles said. "He was the one who gave me the opportunity to show I could be a head coach."

Faurot’s "Missouri Plan" regarding recruiting limitations was scrapped after Broyles left and Devine came from Arizona State.

Kadlec said the coaches got raises and that more emphasis was placed on football.

Devine was the Tigers’ coach for 13 seasons, before leaving in 1971 to become coach of the Green Bay Packers. His Missouri teams were a combined 93-37-7.

"I think the fact Frank left after one season woke up everybody," Kadlec said. "There was a feeling, ‘We’ve got to do this next guy right so he’ll stay.’ "

Broyles said he’s never wondered how his career would have turned out if he had stayed at Missouri for the long haul, that he knows Arkansas is where he was destined to make his mark.

Kadlec is convinced Broyles, who was 144-58-5 as the Razorbacks’ coach, also would have won big at Missouri if he had stayed.

"I know Frank Broyles would have had a tremendous career here at Missouri," Kadlec said. "But we were fortunate to have him that one year."