It still happens. I sit next to Frank Broyles and I get a few chills. And thrills. It's been that way since I was about six when I figured out he was my father's best friend. You can tell that when a man calls your house daily and asks for your father. No one else did that other than those that worked for my father.
I remember the Sunday mornings and the ride to the airport to pick up Frank Broyles. I made some of those rides and was dropped off at the Boys Club while my father watched while Broyles did his TV show at KATV.
I was always amazed at the kindness, respect that he showed for others and the other way around. It was pretty clear that he was a legend in the eyes of the people of Arkansas.
When Broyles came into the radio studio Thursday to do one hour of live radio with Bo Mattingly on Sports Talk with Bo, it was still the same. People in the room wanted their picture taken with Broyles, including Mattingly. That hasn't changed in the 50 or so years I've been around Broyles.
Broyles is slowing down, but not by much. He told us that he doesn't drive himself anymore. He has a family member bring him to work at the Razorback Foundation and then his administrative assistant drives him home in the afternoon. There may be a lunch or a golf game in between and someone gets him there.
"They took away my keys, but it's okay," he said. "I have plenty who will help me get to places. I'm just fine."
The golf is different. He no longer plays weekend golf. Too many people and it takes too long, he said. His golf is during the week.
"That knocks out some of my playing partners since they can only play on the weekend," he said. "They can't play with me during the week since they have jobs.
"And I don't count up my score. I'd rather just tell you I had six pars and two birdies then what I shot. Maybe someone in the group is keeping the score, but I don't. I do remember the good holes, though, and those are the ones I want to talk about and remember anyway."
Broyles said he began shooting his age at 72. He's 87 now, born the day after Christmas. It's much easier to shoot his age now.
"I can do that pretty easily now," he said. "For awhile it was pretty tough. Not so much anymore.
"I don't play so much as I hit balls. I go to the range and hit some shots. I still hit it pretty good, but not as far. I work a lot on my wedge game. I can't get to the par fives (in two) and some of the par fours so there are a lot of wedge shots. So if I practice that, I'm going to get up and down. That's the strength of my game now, my wedge play. My playing partners are amazed I can get it up and down so regularly. I've got all of the shots -- the chip, the flop, the pitch and run. I work on all of them."
Broyles watches as much golf as football. He enjoyed seeing Tiger Woods win at the Memorial Tournament last week.
"I didn't always pull for Tiger," Broyles said. "But I do now. I want to see him win because I realize how important he is to golf. He helped the game in so many ways and golf needs a strong Tiger Woods."
Some of that was discussion during the breaks of the one hour show that Bo did with Broyles. He was comfortable talking on all subjects and was sharp throughout. Mattingly and I both were shaking our heads afterwards. Bascially, we both knew that we were sitting with a legend for that one hour. There is still the wow factor.
It's easy to see that he was a great recruiter as a coach (for players) and athletic director (for dollars). The charm is still there that made him successful during those days.
Broyles talked of going into Lance Alworth's home in the 1950s to pull him away from Johnny Vaught and Mississippi. Some thought it was easy pickings because Vaught had a rule that would keep Alworth out of Oxford -- no married football players.
That was true, Broyles said. But he noted that Vaught "changed the rule after we offered Lance a scholarship. They were going to take him. But it was too late."
Broyles had worked his charm.
Interestingly, it is Broyles who said he's been charmed. He said he's been asked to write one more book. He's written several, including one that is a handbook for caregivers for Alzheimer's disease.
"If I do (write another book), I have the title," he said. "It would be Charmed Life. I have had a charmed life in Arkansas. Nearly 60 years. I couldn't have had it any better."
There was never a time when he seriously thought about leaving. He'd get calls from friends at his alma mater in the 1960s. He told him to put it out of their mind. He wasn't coming back. He was at home.
"I never interviewed for another job," he said. "Never. I made sure that my name didn't ever get out there.
"People in Arkansas get upset if you go looking. So I made sure to handle that."
He said his best friend, Orville Henry, took care of that.
"Orville knew that I wasn't going anywhere, so if a job was open, he'd write that I wasn't interested," Broyles said. "So it never was an issue."
Broyles said he's having a great time as a fan. It's the first time he's ever felt that way at a game. He was either a player, a coach, a sportscaster or an athletic director until retirement. As an administrator, he'd often leave a game when nerves would get the best of him -- just walking home.
"I don't get nervous any more," he said. "I love the games. I watch them as a fan. I don't think about what I would have done as a coach. Not any more. I just enjoy them."
That's what we were doing Thursday with Broyles. We enjoyed every second.
Bo Mattingly and Frank Broyles enjoy the time together after one hour of live radio.
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