Frank Broyles was remembered as a championship coach, father, mentor, athletic director and guide for caregivers of those suffering from Alzheimer’s disease during a memorial celebration Saturday at Arkansas’ Bud Walton Arena.
Broyles, who led Arkansas to its lone football national championship and later served as the athletic director for more than four decades, died Monday at the age of 92.
Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones was among the speakers at the memorial. Jones and former college and NFL coach Jimmy Johnson were among the members of the undefeated 1964 Arkansas football team that was named the national champion by the Football Writers Association of America. Alabama was the AP national champion that season.
“I wasn’t really important to coach Broyles in what we’re celebrating here today,” Jones said while looking toward Broyles’ family members. “Coach Broyles was totally essential to my life, though.”
Broyles won almost 71 percent of his games in 19 years with the Razorbacks. He became the athletic director in 1974 while still the football coach, eventually retiring from the gridiron to focus on administrative duties following the 1976 season.
As athletic director, Broyles led an overhaul and upgrade of Arkansas’ facilities — as well as leading the school in its move to the Southeastern Conference. Former SEC commissioners Roy Kramer and Mike Slive, along with current commissioner Greg Sankey, were in attendance Saturday.
Jones said Broyles’ ability to raise money for building projects, and a trip to the Houston Astrodome before one bowl game while in college, had a direct influence on his desire to build the $1.2-billion Cowboys Stadium — which was renamed AT&T Stadium in 2013.
“Forty-five years later, I’m in Dallas, Texas, and I’m thinking about maybe building a stadium,” Jones said. “And when I was thinking about building that stadium, because of something that happened to me 40 years ago, I didn’t have to ask, ‘Who does that,’ I didn’t have to ask if it could be done.
“I already knew that, coach in his own way had brought me in (the Astrodome) and we had looked at it.”
Broyles died from complications of Alzheimer’s just as his wife, Barbara, had in 2004 following a battle with the disease. He later remarried Gen Whitehead in late 2005, and he started the Frank and Barbara Broyles Foundation CareGivers United — an Alzheimer’s education organization.
He also wrote a book titled “Coach Broyles’ Playbook for Alzheimer’s Caregivers,” and it’s published more than 800,000 copies while focusing on helping those who care for loved ones with Alzheimer’s.
Former Arkansas quarterback Quinn Grovey didn’t play for Broyles, but he spoke about the opportunity he had to interact and learn from the former coach while with the Razorbacks. Grovey also spoke about growing up in Oklahoma while listening to Broyles and former television partner Keith Jackson on ABC’s college football telecasts.
It was when Grovey’s mother began to experience dementia in 2005, however, that he said he learned the most from Broyles — who offered him advice on caring for his mother before she passed away in 2015.
“He was the coach of coaches,” Grovey said. “… The Playbook is a must for every caregiver dealing with this disease.”
The memorial also featured a video tribute that had comments from several coaches over the years who Broyles had hired at Arkansas, including former Razorbacks basketball coach Nolan Richardson and football coach Lou Holtz. It also highlighted Broyles’ friendship with former Texas coach Darrell Royal, who died in 2012.
Former Arkansas linebacker David Bazzel presided over the memorial, and he mentioned the importance of Broyles’ name in creating the Broyles Award — which is given annually to the nation’s top assistant football coach. Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley, Texas coach Tom Herman and Auburn coach Gus Malzahn are among the past winners of the award.
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