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Today’s Coaches Don’t Have the Broyles-Royal Relationship


Coach Frank Broyles and Coach Darrell Royal

Probably if they were assistants together on a staff, that good feeling might still exist for head coaches — for instance, Florida’s Will Muschamp and Florida State’s Jimbo Fisher, who worked on Nick Saban’s LSU staff and have gone on summer vacations together since. One could see former Arkansas and Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt and Georgia’s like-minded Mark Richt breaking bread or having more than a few idle minutes of chit-chat on the phone, though they rarely had any matchups on the field.

It’s become so dog-eat-dog, this world of college football and especially in the SEC, coaches probably don’t have the time to develop strong friendships off the field — which is what makes the dynamic between Frank Broyles at Arkansas and Darrell Royal at Texas back in the 1960s and ’70s so unusual.

These two were 2 and 2A in college football wins in the 1960s, just behind Alabama’s Paul “Bear” Bryant who, incidentally, counted Southern Cal’s John McKay among his close coaching friends. Broyles and Royal had a couple of titanic struggles on the field in the 1960s that determined national champions (1964 to Arkansas, 1969 to Texas) and yet were so close, they even went out together in retirement on Dec. 6, 1976, in Austin.

The game that night was so secondary to their leaving college coaching that when the Memorial Stadium scoreboard malfunctioned and knocked nine minutes off the game during the middle of what would be a Texas romp, 29-12, both coaches just said, “To heck with it,” and let it roll. Their last game together was a 51-minute affair. Then Royal’s players carried him off on their shoulders while Broyles forlornly shook hands and headed alone to his locker room.

Golf was a common interest of both. Drinking was not. Broyles was an avowed teetotaler. Royal would even join the masses for a sip of the strong stuff.

One day at the now-long-gone Rosswood Country Club south of Pine Bluff, Broyles and Royal had been part of a golf exhibition — not sure now who dreamed up the deal, but it seems like KATV executives were — that included PGA golfers R.H. Sikes, who had attended Arkansas and won an NCAA men’s individual championship, and Doug Sanders, the Texas product who would later lose in a British Open playoff to Jack Nicklaus. This was in the latter half of the 1960s and Pine Bluff turned out in big numbers.

Later, after the crowds had dispersed and Broyles had headed home, one Pine Bluffian still hanging out happened upon a lone soul still sitting at the Rosswood bar. He introduced himself to the fan, who had already followed the golf for 18 holes, “Hey, I’m Darrell Royal.” And they talked football for the next half hour.

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Jim Harris is the former editor of ArkansasSports360. He has covered Arkansas sports for decades at papers including the Pine Bluff Commercial and the Arkansas Gazette. He a member of the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) and the United States Basketball Writers Association (USBWA). Jim is also in search of the best gumbo.

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