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The Job Frank Broyles Wanted Was in Arkansas

Coach Frank Broyles

“What people miss about that story is that Lance Alworth was not just automatically coming to Arkansas when he couldn’t get into Ole Miss,” says Bruce James, another Mississippi star recruit that Broyles would woo later in the 1960s and who would make All-American as a defensive end.

“He could have gone to Alabama, Auburn, Mississippi State, LSU, Georgia, any school he wanted to. Frank Broyles beat Bear Bryant, Shug Jordan and those other coaches for him.”

When it was legal under NCAA rules for the head coach to take on the nearly year-round recruiting of a prep star, Broyles usually got his man — from Alworth in his first recruiting class at Arkansas to All-American kicker Steve Little near the end of his coaching tenure. In the case of Alworth, who happened to like golf, Frank really had an ace in the hole here: he too loved golf. They sealed the deal for Arkansas at a private Memphis country club.

That recruiting class would be the backbone of a sudden breakthrough in the Southwest Conference like Arkansas fans had never seen. Broyles would coach the Hogs to no less than a share of the SWC title his second, third and fourth seasons with Alworth and Co., and beating Texas in 1960 started Arkansas on a successful run of recruiting players out of the Lone Star State — Jerry Lamb, Ronnie Caveness and Loyd Phillips just to name a few — the put the Hogs on close to equal footing with the Longhorns.

His fifth season saw Arkansas come within a fumble at the Texas goal line in the fourth quarter of perhaps a national championship. That national title came in year seven, when Arkansas finished as the last major unbeaten team in the country after a 10-7 Cotton Bowl win over Nebraska and was crowned No. 1 by two major polls, including the Football Writers Association of America.

Arkansas had never seen such fortune on the football field. The 1964 team’s 11 wins were part of a 22-game win streak over three years, ending in a 14-7 loss to LSU in the 1966 Cotton Bowl. The 1965 team, before the streak ended, was heralded by Sports Illustrated as perhaps “the new college football dynasty.” After a heartbreaking end to the 1966 season (8-2) and a down year in 1967, Broyles and the Razorbacks capped off the 1960s with a 10-1 season in 1968 and a 9-2 year in 1969, which included the fabled 15-14 loss to No. 1 Texas to end the regular season.

Broyles’ coaching career would come to a close at the end of the 1976 season, coincidentally against Texas and his coaching rival Darrell Royal, who was also calling it quits that night in Austin. Broyles remained on as athletic director until 2008, when Jeff Long assumed the post and Broyles’ title became “emeritus.”

And that all came to a close earlier this month in Fayetteville in a weekend of retirement events for the 89-year-old Frank Broyles.

More than a few times, and not jokingly, he said he wanted to remain as athletic director until he was in his 90s, and even then he didn’t want to stop. That might have happened had it not been for some administrative missteps and the collapse of Houston Nutt’s coaching run in 2007. But that’s a story for later in this series.

For today’s reading, we look at the man who, beginning with an assistant coaching job at Baylor after his playing career at Georgia Tech ended, always eyed the Arkansas job. …

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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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