With over 50 family members in the first two rows and a host of former players dotting the crowd of around 500, Athletic Director Frank Broyles announced Saturday morning that he would retire at the end of the calendar year completing 50 years of service to the University of Arkansas.
Chancellor John White said he and Broyles had not worked out the details but that he hoped Broyles would remain as AD Emeritus starting in January of 2008. White said Broyles would serve as a consultant when the search begins to hire his replacement, but that Broyles would make all the decisions for the athletic department for the remainder of the current year.
Broyles was introduced at the start of a regularly scheduled Board of Trustees meeting by White. Broyles asked the board to accept his retirement. White later asked that the board retain Broyles after retirement as AD Emeritus.
Broyles made some brief remarks before introducing two of his former players, Jerry Jones and Bobby Roper, both starters for the 1964 Arkansas team that won the school's only football national title. Broyles then made some closing remarks.
The legendary UA coach and AD, dressed in a Razorback red blazer and a red tie, was up beat in his speech and was his usual passionate self in summing up his career in the Razorback family. White, Jones and Roper credited Broyles for the great facilities along Razorback Road, but Broyles instead credited "the Razorback miracle" and fans and boosters from around the state.
Broyles recalled the $900,000 budget he inherited 33 years ago on the day he became AD. He said his first mission was to raise money to build an "all-sports program." He said he called a meeting in Little Rock with 300 businessmen at Pleasant Valley Country Club. Eventually, all 300 agreed to step up with contributions totaling over $450,000.
"At that time, we made $880,000 from football and another $20,000 from basketball," Broyles said. "That was it. At that time, baseball didn't compete in the Southwest Conference. We didn't have money to send them to play in Texas and we didn't have scholarships for another sport.
"My goal was to raise money for an all-sports program. Of the 300 at that meeting in Little Rock, only two didn't agree to pledge money. I called those two when I got back and they said they would help, too."
Broyles said his legacy should be that he raised enough money that the Arkansas athletic program operated with a balanced budget without help from the state or from student funds.
"I don't know about this now, but four years ago there was a study and there were only four or five other schools that didn't get state money or student fees in the country," Broyles said. "And, right now I think there are only 20 schools in the country with a balanced budget. We've done it for 33 years.
"We redid our football stadium after Houston (Nutt) came in and got everyone excited and it cost $115 million. We owe $20 million right now. We spent $30 million for our basketball facility and our debt is down to $20 million on that now. Our debt is going down. We paid cash for our baseball stadium. We paid cash for our new track building.
"How did we do that? It was the passion I call the Razorback miracle and the heart our fans have for our program and our state. It's because of the staff and players that have made contributions that are too numerous to mention here today."
Broyles was given a standing ovation both when he was introduced at the start of the session and also when he finished his remarks. Jones and Roper also received ovations for their strong remarks on behalf of their old coach.
Jones, the owner of the Dallas Cowboys, compared the day to the time when he brought in Jimmy Johnson, another UA team member from the '64 champs, to replace Tom Landry, the legendary coach of the Cowboys. He said he was mistaken in his estimation of Landry's value and legacy when he made that move.
"Here's what I want to say, when I bought the Cowboys, I brought in Jimmy and went to see Tom Landry to tell him of our decision," Jones said. "I had a chance to send someone else, but I did it myself ... I made a mistake because I didn't appreciate exactly what Tom Landry meant to the Cowboys."
Jones went on to say that he hopes others don't make the same mistake when they view the retirement of Broyles.
"The University of Arkansas is more than a team, more than the alumni -- the value of the Razorbacks to our state is immeasurable ... We all appreciate and understand the numbers that Coach Broyles has handled for us. We have great facilities and he got it paid for.
"What I want to say is that I'm so proud to be a part of what he did here. Let us please recognize what a rare asset we have and it's still ongoing and precious.
"I understand what Coach Landry meant to the Cowboys. What I want to make sure is that everyone recognizes what an asset Coach Broyles has been to our state above some issues that may exist. Coach Broyles, God bless you!"
Jones recalled a time before his days with the Cowboys when he wanted to help in the recruitment of a top athlete.
"I knew who the good ones were out there that everyone wanted," Jones said. "I had an oil company and some drilling rigs. I called Coach Broyles and suggested that I had a job for this young man. Coach Broyles said, 'We don't do it that way at the University of Arkansas. There's got to be someone else you can put on that drilling rig.' And, that's what I did. He never did it any other way than the right way. I learned that."
Roper, an all-star defensive end, retired to Fayetteville after touring the nation as one of the many Broyles proteges in college football. He was an assistant coach at nine different schools, including Texas A&M, Pitt and Tennessee. He talked mostly on what Broyles taught he and his teammates about character and work ethic, but he said he could speak first hand about what it's like to work somewhere without great facilities.
"I was at nine different places and coached in every conference in this country except the Big 10," Roper said. "So I've seen about everything there is to see as far as facilities. There aren't any that are as good as what Coach Broyles built here. Some have one thing or another, but no one has it all right here together like we have.
"What I can tell you about the '64 championship is that it just didn't happen by accident. It happened because of Coach Broyles and the assistants he brought here. He instilled things in us that carried through a lifetime. He not only instilled football, but he instilled pride in doing things the right way and the pride of being a Razorback. He made sure we knew not to get in trouble, but that we got degrees and were productive citizens. It was all because of Frank Broyles."
Roper said he did things behind the scenes that few ever recognized, mainly because Broyles didn't want them to know. He told about how he found jobs for his players after school and how he placed him on Bear Bryant's staff at Alabama when Roper professed a desire to get into coaching.
"What a start he gave me," Roper said. "He did things the world didn't know about for us."
Of course, most in attendance did not speak at the microphone, but were willing to provide thoughts after leaving the room. Another former player in attendance talked about the very same thing as Roper. Louis Campbell, now an assistant on Houston Nutt's football staff at Arkansas, tearfully recalled getting the call from Broyles that he would be going to Alabama as a grad assistant.
"He got me on at Alabama," Campbell said as his eyes filled with tears. "I could never thank him enough for what he's done for me. That started 10 years of coaching at Alabama and then he allowed me to come home.
"This is a very hard day for a lot of people. You never thought it would come, and especially not like this. You thought he would go out on his terms and it didn't happen that way. You can't help but be emotional about today. I was amazed at how he handled it. He spoke with his same passion and didn't let emotion get to him. He is amazing. Always has been."
UA head coaches were taken to a private meeting room after Broyles concluded and made available to the media.
Nutt, the football head coach, said he was "upset at how this has happened. You just didn't think it would be like this, where he was forced to do something. So yes I'm upset. I would not be telling the truth if I didn't say I was upset. I thought he would be here two, three, four more years."
Nutt called Broyles "one in a million" and said he "just could not imagine the athletic department without Coach Broyles as AD. You don't realize it's going to happen until you get to this meeting today and now it hits you. You don't realize how big the day is until you get here and see all these people and hear what people said. As always, he's got that great big smile. He was like that the first time I met him and that was at Little Rock Central when he came to see me play in high school. I remember that day. What I remember is that he was so tall, that smile and that southern drawl."
Nutt said you really realize the impact Broyles has had on not only the Arkansas sports scene but on the national scene when you leave the state and hear other legends talk about him.
"Coach Broyles did all of this in a state of 2 million," Nutt said. "You leave our state and he's known and respected world wide, not just national. I just can't imagine him not being here. I can't imagine being on the second floor and not having him up on the third floor. Hopefully, he'll still be here to go to for advice and to visit. I can't imagine not having him here."
Track coach John McDonnell said he never thought he would be in a position to outlast Broyles on campus.
"Of course, that looks like it could happen now," McDonnell said. "How could that happen? The only thing I can tell you is that things have changed in the world. You listened to him talk about how he came to Arkansas and that John Barnhill told him he had the job and it stayed a secret for an entire week. You can't sneeze now without it being on the Internet. That is how it has changed.
"The thing I'll tell you from my perspective, he was a great AD. He helped get us great facilities and then he let you do your job. That's what I can tell you about him as a coach."
Tennis coach Robert Cox said the same things, noting, "He let you do your job, but in the same breath I have to say that he always knew exactly how things were going with our tennis team. He knew and he cared. When I came here as a player, I remember our coach, Tom Pucci, telling us that we had shoes to play in and uniforms and facilities all because of Coach Broyles. Others didn't even have what we had back then and we were always aware of what he had done for the non-revenue sports."
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