This past week University of Arkansas former Athletic Director Frank Broyles passed away at the age of 92 from complications of Alzheimers. If you are a Razorback fan or an Arkansan you probably understand the significance and the impact of Coach Broyle’s life and leadership and the impact it had not only on Razorback fans but the state in general. I wanted to write a post celebrating his life and leadership. Even if you’re not a Razorback or a sports fan please continue reading. There are many lessons to learn from his legacy of leadership.
He took a mediocre to average football program and coached the Hogs to their only national title in 1964. He was not only a great football coach but was a great leader who understood that you helped develop the people who worked and played for him and helped shape them into great leaders. On the 1964 national title team he coached Jerry Jones, owner and billionaire of the Dallas Cowboys. Jones recently acknowledged the influence of Broyles in his acceptance speech into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Here is a statement from Jones following the death of his former coach and mentor: “Outside of my father, Frank Broyles was the most influential man in my life.” What an impactful statement!
The Broyles award is named in his honor for college football’s best assistant coach. He had great influence and helped shape the careers of so many assistants who went on to have successful head coaching jobs. Some of those former assistants include; Barry Switzer who won a national title at Oklahoma, Johnny Majors at Tennessee and Pittsburg, Fred Akers at Texas, Doug Dickey, and Jimmy Johnson who won both a national title and two Super Bowls with the Dallas Cowboys. There were other great influences as well including Jim Lindsey who is now a real estate mogul in Arkansas.
There are so many leadership lessons that can be learned from Broyles’ legacy and leadership. He not only developed those around him but hired great coaches for Arkansas’ athletic programs including Nolan Richardson who coach the Razorbacks to their one and only basketball national championship. That list also includes John McDonnell who holds 42 national titles in track and cross country. He hired Eddie Sutton in the mid 70s to coach the basketball program that was not very competitive until Sutton’s arrival and he helped launch the program into the national spotlight.
The list could go on and on. The bottom line is there are so many life and leadership qualities that can be learned from Frank Broyles. Not only does his coaching tree reach far and wide, he wrote a book in his 80s entitled: Coach Broyles Playbook for Alzheimer’s Caregivers. His first wife Barbara died from Alzheimers complications as well.
There are five qualities that Frank Broyles possessed that are invaluable to all leaders regardless of whether they run a corporation, are principal of a school, or teach a classroom:
- He understood that you have to develop leaders around you to be successful and allow them to fly when the time comes.
- He also understood that you had to make hard and difficult decisions and own those decisions! (His career was not without controversy)
- He had vision! He led the Razorback’s transition into the Southeastern Conference which has been instrumental in athletic and financial success which not many others could see at the time.
- He knew how to bring people together for a common cause. He brought an entire state together to support a university and help raise millions of dollars while AD and into his retirement.
- He was willing to give back. to society which shown in the writing of the aforementioned book.
You don’t have to be a sports fan to understand and appreciate the great leadership skills that Frank Broyles possessed. He will be greatly missed not only at the UA but throughout Arkansas and college football.