OPINION — Like It Is

OPINION | WALLY HALL: Broyles Award remains a showcase for state

They came from all over the country for the Broyles Award and all of the nominees said the hospitality was unbelievable.

But then it is Arkansas, home of what has grown into one of the most coveted national awards in college football.

On Tuesday, the only defensive coach among the finalists, Iowa defensive coordinator Phil Parker, was named the winner in a very close voting, but that was a tribute to the finalists, who were: Mike Bobo of Georgia, Mike Denbrook of LSU, Sherrone Moore of Michigan and Will Stein of Oregon.

The runners-up were all offensive coordinators.

What had to make this special for Parker, a 37-year coaching veteran who has been at Iowa since 1999, was the 10-3 Hawkeyes made it to the Big Ten Championship Game because of their defense.

The offense ranked last of all the BCS teams, but the defense was fifth in the country.

In this wild and woolly days of outrageous salaries in the world of perspiring arts, Parker, 60, makes less than $600,000 a year.

He epitomizes what the Broyles Award was created for.

Since its birth in 1996, when David Bazzel's dream became a reality, it has not been a downhill run into an award that YouTube broadcast live nationwide and KATV Channel 7 carried live locally.

When Bazzel approached the late great Frank Broyles with his idea for an award named after the University Arkansas athletic director and former head football coach, Broyles thought it was a good idea but wondered if three months was too small of a window to pull it off.

Baz asked for a chance, Broyles said don't mess it up, and Baz was off and running, after getting a $25,000 bank loan.

A few years into it, the American Football Coaches Association and Grant Teaff thought they could do a better job of naming a national assistant coach of the year, but they couldn't keep up.

A few years ago, Baz made a decision to hand the award off to the Broyles family. Daughter Betsy Broyles Arnold and Molly Harrell were more than ready and folded the award seamlessly into the Broyles Foundation, which helps prepare and support caregivers for people suffering from Alzheimer's disease.

The Broyles Foundation is a passion for the mother-daughter team.

Broyles' first wife Barbara -- mother to Betsy and grandmother to Molly -- died from the disease. Broyles wrote the book "Coach Broyles Playbook for Alzheimer's Caregivers," and the entire family was at Barbara's side from start to finish.

It was announced earlier this year that the Broyles Foundation had entered into a sponsoring agreement with Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort in Hot Springs, and next's year's winner will be named at Oaklawn. But what that means is it remains the state of Arkansas' award.

Because of the unknown with College Football Playoff expanding to 12 teams next season, the awards banquet will be moved to February and the prediction here is it will be a very tough ticket to get as the Broyles Award continues to grow.

After the first Broyles Award banquet, Frank Broyles told Bazzel if he had any more ideas come see him. And he did.

. . .

On the subject of awards, last Monday was the last day to vote on the Heisman Trophy and all voters sign an agreement of confidentiality until after the winner is named this Saturday.

The four finalists have been announced and almost immediately odds lines were out on who would win and LSU's Jayden Daniels was made the prohibitive favorite after he opened the season as the longest shot on the board.

Second was Washington's Michael Penix, Oregon's Bo Nix and Ohio State's Marvin Harrison. Harrison is a receiver, the others are all quarterbacks.

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