Thousands poured into the new Walmart AMP just a few hundred yards away to listen to Blake Shelton. Too bad they didn't see the real show at the Hammons Center.
While Shelton rocked the AMP, the life of Frank Broyles rocked the Hammons Center. There was a wonderful slide show and a host of famous speakers to celebrate the life of the former Arkansas head football coach and athletic director.
Houston Nutt, the final speaker, summed it up best with a twist off his famous line when he was Arkansas head coach for 10 years.
"There are lots of Lions, Tigers and Bears, but only one Razorback," Nutt said. "There are lots of CEOs with great vision, but there is only one J. Frank Broyles.
Close to 1,000 packed the John Q. Hammons Center for the Celebration of Coach Frank Broyles' Life and Career, titled Coach's Quarter. It was organized by Betsy Broyles, daughter of Frank and Barbara Broyles, and Molly Arnold Gay, Betsy's daughter. As Betsy and Molly thanked the crowd at the end it was revealed that Molly was wearing one of her grandmother's dresses.
There was video on the work of the Frank and Barbara Broyles Foundation, where the money will go from the evening. Betsy and Molly know they will get a big-time boost when Frank, now done at the Razorback Foundation, joins them in full-time work at their foundation, raising money and awareness for Alzheimer.
There was a video tribute to Barbara, with old footage of Frank Broyles explaining his reason for writing the Care Givers Playbook. Betsy had taped messages on Care Givers United, the foundation that provides so much help for Alzheimer care givers.
There was 15-year-old message from Frank Broyles on what to do with Alzheimer patients that said, "Discuss the memories. That brings joy."
And, then the evening began with just that kind of joy. There were many touching moments throughout the night that brought tears.
The program began at 7 p.m. starting with the National Anthem sung by Carmen Sanders, granddaughter of Coach Broyles. H. D. McCarty delivered a prayer that could have been a keynote speech. Buddy Jewell sang two songs and that was before the program started.
Here are those that delivered in-person messages:
• Russ Sloan, all-conference player at Missouri who was a sophomore when Broyles coached the Tigers. He credited Broyles for recruiting the school's best freshman class that two years later won the Orange Bowl and should have been voted national champs. Russ was former head coach at Northeast Missouri.
Sloan paid tribute to teammate Merv Johnson, a key aide on the Broyles staff that won the '64 national title. Sloan said the Broyles workouts at Missouri "were the shock of our lives." He said he'd heard of Bear Bryant's preseason camp at Junction, Texas, that ran off half of the team. He said the only difference between those workouts and the Missouri camp under Broyles "was that Coach Broyles tried to kill us on campus." He said Dan Devine inherited a great team of "survivors."
He closed by instructing Seal Team Six to fill their ranks from former Broyles football players because they were elite in character when finished after four years.
• Congressmen Steve Womack, who said almost all Arkansans associate the Razorback brand most closely with the name Frank Broyles. All there were nodding their heads as Steve mentioned that.
• Johnny Majors, former Tennessee head coach, who said he is ready to coach again when Broyles makes his comeback. Majors, 79, said his four happiest years were as a Broyles assistant and that he learned more football there than anywhere else.
He said Broyles was the first coach to arrange for courtesy cars for assistants. He said his salary went from $11,000 to $14,000 after the '64 national title, plus the top four assistants on staff got an additional $2,000 to do a radio show, and that they also got $1,000 university bonus, $1,000 Razorback Foundation bonus and a housing allowance of $800 from the state. He said they were the best paid assistants in the country.
• Bill Montgomery, former Broyles quarterback, who said he asked Broyles for permission to tryout for the golf team and was given permission but told he'd be moved to a different position on the football team.
• Scott Bull, another former quarterback, said his dad thought Broyles should run for governor and that as a CEO traveling the country for Pace Industries that he's always held his head high when he mentions his pedigree as an Arkansas player under Broyles because of what he'd done for the state and university. "Not only did we win, but we won with integrity," Bull said.
• Muskie Harris, among the first African-American UA football players, read a list of former players, all black, that are proud to be Broyles players. Several were there. He thanked Broyles from the families, and mentioned first Jon Richardson.
Harris said, "We were able to win on the field and in society thanks to Coach Broyles." He mentioned that Broyles is in countless Hall of Fames and said, "Coach, you are in the Hall of Fame with our families."
• Houston Nutt was the final speaker and spoke with the passion of a preacher as he described what Broyles means to the state and the university. Nutt, the final Broyles signee, recalls a Broyles visit after the '98 season.
"He came to me and said what do you need to win," said Nutt, who said he began the discussion with how they would improve their goal line offense.
"No, not Xs and Os, what do you need," Nutt said. "I said maybe a team room. He said, 'I'll call Jim Lindsey on Monday. What else?' I said, 'Maybe a weight room.' He said Jim will get you that, too.
"No, Frank told me, what you really need is a new stadium. We need more than 55,000, he told me. He said, 'We are going to get you 100,000 seats. I talked him out of that. Well, all you had to do is go right down Razorback Road and see all of the things he did, his vision."
Nutt mentioned what was called the Broyles scholarships for former players who came back later to finish degrees. He said all were welcome. He said Broyles always said, "Come on," when former players would call to say they were lacking a few hours.
"The night before the Cotton Bowl against Texas, I got back to my room at 10:45 and there was a message from Coach Broyles," Nutt said. "So we talked on the phone. He said, 'Houston, enjoy tomorrow. It's the Cotton Bowl against the University of Texas and your team is prepared and your team will see the confidence in your eyes.' I hung up the phone and knew we were going to win.
"I am telling you, he always had vision. He hired Eddie Sutton. He hired the first African-American basketball coach in the south in Nolan Richardson. I'm telling you there are lots of Tigers and Bears, but there is only one Razorback. There may be lots of CEOs with vision, but there is only one J. Frank Broyles."
Among the many video tributes played during the night were moving messages from Baylor's Grant Teaff, Georgia Tech's Homer Rice, ESPN's Lou Holtz, ABC's Keith Jackson, CBS' Jim Nantz, Jim Lindsey, Ken Hatfield, Gov. Mike Beebe.
Teaff complimented Broyles for the way he prepared his teams and said his Baylor squad seldom would win, but when they did, "Frank was gracious and so complimentary of how we played and we appreciated that. I'm proud to count Frank Broyles as a friend."
Holtz said, "I thank you from the bottom of my heart. I learned so much in my seven years at Arkansas." And he said Broyles was the most famous person from the state of Arkansas.
Lindsey compared his good friend to Bear Bryant and said while Bryant might be the best coach ever that he didn't do what Broyles did for the school as far as the way he pulled all programs up to a great standard with wonderful facilities from basketball to track to baseball.
Nantz thanked Broyles for his Alzheimer work because it touched his life personally. And he said, "Here is a man who made a huge difference in so many lives."
Jackson said, "There were two men in Frank Broyles. There was the man who coached and played in a great way. Then there was the man who cared about everything he touched."
Hatfield said, "You were a great role model. Thank you for the impact you made with millions. Well done, well done.
There was a terrific message from daughter Betsy Broyles and her daughter Molly, who run the Frank and Barbara Broyles Foundation that focuses on care givers for Alzheimers.
Eddie Sutton was among those in the crowd. It seemed about one third of the room rose when master of ceremonies John George asked football lettermen and UA workers under Broyles to stand up.
During the reception before the dinner, two huge video boards displayed footage of famous Broyles games at Arkansas, along with footage of him as the SEC Player of the Year at Georgia Tech and a wonderful slide show of photos of Frank, Barbara, family and famous UA pictures of Frank. I probably enjoyed that as much as anything all night because it was done so well.
The night ended with a thank you from Betsy to Donita Ritchie, Broyles administrative aide for the last 35 years. Steve Loy, former UA associate AD and golf coach and now Phil Mickelson's agent, presented Ritchie with a one week vacation in Cabo.
With that the Broyles family -- massive -- filled the stage and the former coach and athletic director led the crowd in a Hog Call.
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