Broyles Remembers Coach He Replaced

FAYETTEVILLE — Frank Broyles recalls on several occasions running into Jack Mitchell, the former Arkansas football coach whom Broyles replaced in late 1957.

Broyles said he saw Mitchell at coaches meetings and even once at a reunion many years later. The two men — who combined to lead the Razorbacks to 30 wins over the last half of the 1950s — spoke to each other during the few times their paths crossed.

"I saw him once or twice (when Mitchell got) out of coaching," Broyles said Tuesday. "And he said, ‘I loved my time at Arkansas, and any way I can help you, don't hesitate to call.'"

Broyles never took his predecessor up on his offer.

Mitchell, who led Arkansas to three consecutive winning seasons from 1955-57 and beat rival Texas the first two times he faced them, died Sunday in Sun City, Ariz., after a bout with cancer. He was 85.

While Mitchell is known more for the success he had at Kansas from 1958-66 — he coached All-American running back Gale Sayers and led the Jayhawks to their first bowl victory in 1961 — the late coach made a name for himself in Fayetteville and Little Rock.

Mitchell was hired after Bowden Wyatt left Arkansas following the 1954 season to coach Tennessee, his alma mater. Sandwiched in between a pair of legendary coaches in Wyatt and Broyles, Mitchell went 5-4-1, 6-4 and 6-4 in his three seasons with the Razorbacks.

"I think Bowden turned (the program) around and got the people of Arkansas believing that they can compete," Broyles said. "Jack came in with that and used it to his advantage, and I did also."

The Razorbacks never went to a bowl game under Mitchell, but his short tenure included a 27-20 win over Texas in 1955 and a 32-14 rout of the Longhorns in Austin the following season.

Mitchell went 17-12-1 in three seasons in Fayetteville, but the end of his Arkansas career coincided with Darrell Royal's arrival at Texas.

Coincidentally, Mitchell and Royal were teammates at Oklahoma in the late 1940s, and twice Mitchell was moved to halfback so Royal could take over as the Sooners' quarterback.

According to Broyles, Mitchell once hinted to him that he knew it was time to leave Arkansas when Royal — in his first season as Texas' coach in 1957 — led the unranked Longhorns to a 17-0 upset of the No. 10-ranked Razorbacks.

Mitchell decided following the 1957 season to take over as Kansas' coach, giving the native of Arkansas City, Kan., a chance to return to his home state.

Said Broyles: "I think that (Texas loss in 1957) demoralized him to the point that going back to his home state was more attractive to him."

Mitchell went back to Kansas, and in turn, a job opened up for Broyles at Arkansas. It ended up working out for both men.

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