The New York Times

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Frank Broyles, Football Coach Who Put Arkansas on Map, Dies at 92.

By FRANK LITSKY.

August 14, 2017.

Frank Broyles, a revered football coach and athletic director who helped lift the University of Arkansas into the top ranks of college sports, most memorably by leading the Razorbacks to an undefeated season in 1964 and their only national championship, died on Monday in Fayetteville, Ark. He was 92.

A statement by his family said the cause was complications of Alzheimer’s disease.

The Razorbacks had been a doormat for powerful Texas teams in the Southwest Conference when Broyles left the head coaching job at the University of Missouri to take over the Arkansas football program in Fayetteville in 1958.

By the time he resigned in 1976, at 52, to devote all his time to his other role, as athletic director, his teams had compiled a 144-58-5 record and, in addition to the national title, won six Southwest Conference titles and 10 bowl games.

He went on to raise tens of millions of dollars for stadiums and other sports facilities, helped to build national champions in basketball and track and field, and found a national audience as a college football commentator for ABC Sports.

“He’ll be known for turning a college sports lemonade stand into a Fortune 500-type operation,” The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette wrote in 1999. “Piece by piece, Broyles helped give the nation something else to associate with Arkansas besides Li’l Abner and the desegregation crisis.

The seeds of his football success were planted in the last game of an otherwise disappointing 5-5 season in 1963, when Arkansas defeated Texas Tech, 27-20, at home the day after President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. It was the first of 22 straight victories.

The next season, the Razorbacks went undefeated, along the way knocking off the No. 1 team, Texas, and ending the campaign with five straight shutouts. After they defeated Nebraska, 10-7, in the 1965 Cotton Bowl in Dallas to finish with an 11-0 record, sportswriters gave Arkansas its first national football crown.

The team went undefeated in the 1965 regular season as well and was ranked No. 1 when its hopes for a second national title were dashed by L.S.U. on the same Cotton Bowl field.

Arkansans loved Broyles, even if he was a native of Georgia.

“In Arkansas nowadays,” Fred Russell wrote in The Saturday Evening Post in October 1960, “Broyles seems to be all things to all kinds of people. To the rooters in the stands he is a resourceful and dynamic leader whose shirttail is always flying by the third quarter as he urges his boys on from the sidelines.

Broyles signals for a time out during a Razorbacks game against Texas in Austin in 1970.

“To the area’s high school coaches,” Russell went on, “he’s an inventive technician whose ideas merit close study; more than 200 of them attended a coaching clinic he conducted last spring. To his players he is an understanding friend, sociable and considerate. To mothers of budding athletes he’s the type of coach to whom a boy can safely be entrusted. To ministers he’s a man they can call on Sunday nights for eloquent and sincere testimonials.

One of his strengths was recruiting, and particularly recruiting married athletes. In his first summer at Arkansas, Broyles recruited the newlywed Lance Alworth, a schoolboy All-American from Brookhaven, Miss. after the University of Mississippi had rejected him because of a rule against married players. Alworth went on to a Hall of Fame career as a wide receiver in the National Football League, almost entirely with the San Diego Chargers.

Broyles had 20 married men on his 1960 squad alone. (He himself had married his high school sweetheart while both were in college, in 1945.

His acumen in choosing assistant coaches was renowned. At least 30 became head coaches of college or professional teams. Among them, Jimmy Johnson, Barry Switzer and Johnny Majors went on to win national college championships, and Johnson, Switzer and Joe Gibbs won Super Bowls.

In 1996, the National College Football Awards Association created the Frank Broyles Award. given to outstanding assistant coaches.

When he resigned, Broyles picked Lou Holtz to succeed him. Holtz, a former head coach at North Carolina State, had coached the Jets for a season before leaving the N.F.L. to take the Arkansas job. He became one of college football’s most successful coaches, notably at Notre Dame.

The Atlanta Falcons, meanwhile, reportedly offered Broyles $200,000 a year plus a percentage of the team to be their head coach, but he turned them down and remained at Arkansas as athletic director. He was quoted as telling a friend, “There is no way I am worth what is being offered.

Broyles was a member of a National Collegiate Athletic Association special events committee that in the late 1970s recommended a postseason series of playoffs. The idea was rejected by most colleges and college bowl sponsors, who saw it as a threat to their prestige and profits.

Broyles said he saw playoffs as a way “to make money.” He envisioned holding them between the year-end college bowl games and the Super Bowl.

“Maybe our feeling for a playoff is ahead of its time, like solar energy is right now,” he told The New York Times in 1979. But a playoff was inevitable, he said, because “98 percent of the fans want it.

Frank Broyles while being honored at a Razorbacks game in 2012 after a statue of him was unveiled earlier in the day.

April L. Brown / Associated Press.

The N.C.A.A. put a four-team playoff system into effect in 2014.

John Franklin Broyles was born on Dec. 26, 1924, in Decatur, Ga. to O. T. Broyles and the former Mary Louise Solms. His father ran a grocery store, the success of which spared the family the ravages of the Depression. Frank met his future wife, Barbara Day, when they were both high school sophomores.

Frank, lanky and red-haired, was a standout quarterback for Georgia Tech, leading the team to four bowl games while winning 10 varsity letters in football, basketball and baseball. He was voted Southeast Conference player of the year in 1944.

After a year in the Navy Seabees at the end of World War II, he earned a bachelor’s degree in industrial management in 1947. He signed to play pro football with the Chicago Bears, then withdrew when he discovered that the team was pursuing another rookie quarterback.

He held assistant coaching jobs at Baylor, Florida and Georgia Tech and led Missouri to a 5-4-1 record as head coach in 1957 before Arkansas hired him.

As full-time athletic director at Arkansas (he had held the post part time in his last years as a coach), Broyles set up fund-raising machinery that took in close to $200 million over the years, partly to build a baseball stadium and a track-and-field complex now called the Broyles Athletic Center. In 1992, he led Arkansas out of the disintegrating Southwest Conference into the prosperous Southeastern Conference.

He also helped build national champions in track and field and cross-country. After Broyles hired Nolan Richardson, the first black basketball coach in the Southwest Conference, Richardson led the Razorbacks to their first basketball national championship in 1994, defeating Duke in the final.

But for Broyles the 1990s were mostly a series of administrative problems. A secretary embezzled more than $500,000 in athletic department funds. Trainers illegally dispensed prescription drugs. P. K. Holmes, a United States attorney, accused Broyles of mismanagement. For a time The Democrat-Gazette soured on him, writing in a 1994 editorial, “Frank Broyles didn’t have the good sense to resign at his peak, so no one can now expect him to resign in disgrace.

Broyles’s first wife, Barbara, died in 2004. In 2005 he married Guendaline Whitehead. She survives him, as do four sons, Jack, Hank, Dan and Tommy; twin daughters, Betsy Arnold and Linda Mayes, from his first marriage; seven stepchildren, Kathleen Paulson, Joan Threet, Ruth Trainor and Bruun, Eric, Ted and Philip Whitehead; a sister, Louise Broyles Ferguson; 17 grandchildren; seven great-grandchildren, and 13 step-grandchildren. He lived in Fayetteville.

Broyles was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1983. After leaving coaching, he was ABC’s lead analyst on college games for nine years.

He also appeared in front of a movie camera. In 1982, with the mini-series “The Blue and the Gray” being filmed in and around Fayetteville, the director, Andrew McLaglen, asked him and others on the Arkansas campus to serve as extras. Broyles had a two-sentence part in the final episode as the doctor attending President Abraham Lincoln after he was shot.

“The wound is mortal,” he said. “All we can do is wait.

William McDonald contributed reporting.

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