The Consultant

FAYETTEVILLE — The walls in Frank Broyles' new office are bare, though there are several framed pictures leaning against his desk, apparently waiting to be hung.

His desk, however, is cluttered as usual with papers and pictures of his family.

In the two months since his so-called retirement, Broyles has grown accustomed to making the commute to his new, considerably smaller office in the Razorback Foundation's building next to Baum Stadium.

But it took a few weeks for Arkansas' 83-year-old former football coach and athletic director to get adjusted to the change. After all, he was so used to driving to his old office in the Broyles Center.

"For a while, (I) was headed in that direction when I got in the car, thinking this is just another day. But then it dawned on me, it's not just another day," Broyles said last week, sitting behind his desk as snow flurries blew past his office window.

"You're in a different location. So I come a different way (to work now)."

Broyles moved into his new office on Jan. 2, two days after he officially stepped down as Arkansas' athletic director after 50 years of working for the university.

And despite the blank space on his walls, Broyles is settling into his new surroundings, as well as his new role as a consultant to Arkansas' athletic department.

His longtime assistant, Donita Ritchie, followed him over to the Razorback Foundation's brick building off Razorback Road. And his schedule is still filled with speaking engagements and golf outings that have him traveling up to two weeks a month.

But there is one noticeable difference.

"I sleep at night better, no question about that. When I wake up, I go back to sleep," Broyles said. "I used to wake up and start worrying (about work).

"That's really a big change in the fact that I'm more relaxed and people see that and tell me I'm more relaxed. And I am."

Broyles is still a workaholic, though. The idea of retiring entirely to a life of golf is out of his nature.

He flies several times a month to speak for the Alzheimer's Association, a cause he took up after his first wife, Barbara, was diagnosed with the disease that affects the brain.

When he's not out-of-town, Broyles typically arrives at his new office by 9 a.m. and works until he decides to leave sometime in the afternoon.

"A consultant is an 11-to-1 job with an hour for lunch," Broyles joked. "That's what my friends tell me."

As a consultant, Broyles said he doesn't technically work for Arkansas' athletic department or the Razorback Foundation. He's his own boss for the first time in his career.

His new role calls for him to meet with boosters he's known for years and start up relationships with fans interested in donating money to support the Razorbacks.

"It's enjoyable to have him to pop in and visit with him because, hey, there is a lot of knowledge there and you can tell he's as happy as he can be being here," Razorback Foundation vice president Harold Horton said.

"It's great to see him with some of that load off of him (now that he's no longer athletic director). You can tell it's off of him."

Broyles' role is similar to that of former Georgia football coach and athletic director Vince Dooley, who has remained involved in fundraising for the Bulldogs since his forced retirement three years ago.

But Broyles said he has made a conscious effort over the past two months to remain in the background. He'd prefer if Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long and football coach Bobby Petrino became the new faces of the program.

Broyles hasn't spoken to any Razorback Clubs since his retirement, though he's scheduled to soon address a gathering in Hot Springs.

"I'm trying to be as low-key outside of the circuit, you might say," Broyles said.

But he believes he can still make a contribution as a consultant. He's still identifiable to Arkansas fans, and longtime boosters feel comfortable with him.

The only change: His life isn't nearly as stressful as it once was and his thoughts are no longer focused solely on work.

"Interestingly, since I'm not in the building up there," Broyles said, pointing in the direction of the Broyles Center, "my mind doesn't work in the same way.

"Down here, I'm thinking about things differently than I thought of (before) — very differently."

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