Publish date:


Pastoral and remote for so long, Arkansas has gained a new image, thanks to the brilliance of runners like Harry Jones (right) and an excitable coach named Frank Broyles, who has become THE MAN FOR THE NEXT FEW SEASONS

Aw, yew bet. There's White River channel cat—Frank Broyles likes it better than steak; ask anyone—and strawberries as big and red as Harry Jones's helmet, and fried chicken so tender and flavory it makes a man want to weep. There's good duck hunting and better fishing. You mean you've never throwed a hook in Bull Shoals? There's the Watermelon Festival in Hope, the Grape Festival in Tontitown, the Diamond Cave in Jasper, the Bracken Ridge Lodge Doll Museum in Eureka Springs and the Oil Jubilee in Magnolia. General Douglas MacArthur got himself born in Little Rock, of course, and there was Fay Templeton, the actress, Bob Burns, the comedian, and Albert Pike—he wrote something or other. You also got to consider that Mr. Winthrop Rockefeller, sitting up there on his hill, likes it pretty good. It isn't as though the state of Arkansas never had anything to be proud of before Frank Broyles taught the Razorbacks to bristle and snout. But God love Frank Broyles, and don't cash his personal check. Frame it.

There is a special kind of hysteria in Arkansas now. It is the kind that comes only with a winning college football team. It dabs small, rosy blotches of pride on the cheeks of everyone. And it spreads like measles. It happened in Oklahoma with Bud Wilkinson, in Iowa with Forest Evashevski, in Mississippi with Johnny Vaught, in Texas with Darrell Royal and in Alabama with Bear Bryant. A man comes along—the right man at the right time—to organize things, rally the people, put fire in the athletes, build a winning tradition, and, suddenly, there is an empire. Arkansas is the newest, and those old familiar cries—"Boomer, Sooner," "Hook 'em Horns" and "Roll, Tide"—are being drowned out by a curious new one: "Whoooo, pig, sooey." And Coach Frank Broyles—you will simply have to forgive this—is the sooey with the fringe on top.

Thanks to Broyles, a tall, talkative, excitable, evangelistic native of Georgia, the hysteria is reaching out in all directions. The banker, the farmer, the mechanic, the housewife, the grade-school student—they are all afflicted. They wear red, the university color, almost all of the time, but especially to the games. "We've been talking it up on the radio," says Publicity Man Bob Cheyne, who puts a huge white gardenia with a red "A" into his lapel on Saturdays. "We want a giant mass of red in those stands." The people put signs on their cars, and banners on their homes and businesses. They jam the enlarged stadiums in both Fayetteville and Little Rock, whether the opponent happens to be mortal-enemy Texas or easy-prey North Texas State. They talk football and think football all across the state, and now they are learning the songs that a man named J. Paul Scott keeps writing.

There are frug-type songs, like The Wild Hogs, The Big Red and Razorback Number One, and there are folk ballads like Quarterbacks Man (SI, Oct. 25) and Light Hoss Harry, which tell of the virtues of Quarterback Jon Brittenum and Hurryin' Harry Jones, the splendid halfback (see cover), who is Arkansas' fastest and most exciting runner since Lance Alworth. Even Oklahoma did not have that many songs, and the Sooners once won 47 straight games.

Small wonder for the hysteria. Last week Arkansas won its 19th game in a row, 31-0 over Texas A&M, and this happens to be the longest winning streak extant among major colleges. Arkansas scored its 227th point of the season for a seven-game average of 32.4 (the nation's fourth best). The victory not only kept the Razorbacks seriously in the running for what would be their second straight national championship, it edged them nearer to a more modest but no less important goal: Broyles's fifth outright or shared Southwest Conference title in the last eight seasons. That, incidentally, would be a record and—sooey, pig!—one more title than Texas' Darrell Royal has.

All of this seems just and proper in the happily mad Ozarks because even Frank Broyles admits that this team, at this stage, is his best ever. It is quick and fiery as always—like Texas and Alabama at their best, except bigger. It is like Oklahoma in its unbeatable days, except smoother. It has all of the trademarks of any solid fundamental team: vicious defense, sound running and splendid kicking. But it has something more—the pass. Arkansas not only throws now, it likes to throw, and it does this from Broyles's own version of the theatrical I formation.

Right here it might be important to note the difference between Broyles's I and the one he learned from John McKay of USC, who is, like Royal, a close friend of Broyles. It is important because it reveals that Broyles can adjust to a trend yet preserve his own philosophy of the game. McKay's pure I, for example, is basically a two-back offense. It splits an end to the weak side and places a flanker to the strong side. Broyles, however, refusing to yield running strength, has fashioned a three-back I, splitting his sensational end, Bobby Crockett, who catches most passes falling on his wishbone, to the strong side, and then using a slot back. The Broyles I thus prevents the defense from overshifting.

The formation, as well as the team, is further enhanced by the presence of red-shirt junior Jon Brittenum at quarterback. All last season Brittenum ran opposing plays against the varsity while being held out to gain seasoning. His emergence as the fastest, best-throwing, best-combined runner-thrower Broyles has had at Arkansas has much to do with the team's current success.

"We didn't know whether he'd develop or not," says Broyles, a former quarterback himself at Georgia Tech. Brittenum did. When he was still scrambling for the job during September workouts, Brittenum told Broyles, "Coach, I know you aren't sure who the quarterback's gonna be, but it's me."

"I knew then," Broyles says.

Brittenum is the player who carried Arkansas on that 80-yard drive in the last four minutes to overcome Texas, then No. 1, 27-24, while the Fayetteville stadium burst apart with unbearable drama and national television enjoyed its best college production. He hit six passes in the drive, five of them to Crockett, as Broyles—his shirttail out, his arms flapping—nearly went insane, along with everybody on the bench.

But just when the opponent thinks Arkansas will pass, it runs. And how. There will go hurtling Bobby Burnett, jarring Jim Lindsey, both veterans, or Harry Jones, particularly Harry Jones, who is the new ingredient—more so even than Brittenum—that makes Arkansas better than last year.

Harry Jones is 6 feet 2, weighs 195 and merely runs a 9.7 dash. He is a high-waisted, long-legged, tough, darting runner who is gone—really gone—when he turns a corner.

"He can cut sharp at top speed, and that's something else," says Broyles. "People are trying to compare him with Alworth, and it's unfair. Lance was great for us, and he's a great pro. But Harry is bigger, probably faster, and can cut. Mainly, though, Harry is on a better team. He's—well, just fantastic."

Jones is a good-looking junior from Enid, Okla., who was born in Huntington, W. Va., the son of a Christian minister. (Broyles is the first Arkansas coach to recruit successfully outside the state; in fact, five members of the defensive unit are Texans.) Last season—it figures—Jones was a regular defensive safety, and even this season he was battling with Brittenum for the quarterback job up until the opening game.

The reason for the slow discovery of Jones was not because Broyles dislikes big, fast halfbacks who can gain 565 yards in seven games, averaging 8.4 yards per carry. These are Jones's impressive statistics this year. In amassing his yardage he has broken four times for runs of more than 50 yards and scored six touchdowns, two of them from 50 and 83 yards out, respectively, the first time he touched the ball in different games.

Nobody likes speed more than Broyles. "Luck follows speed," is his major contribution to football's stockpile of instant clichés.

"The reason," says Broyles, "is pretty complicated. First, Harry was a sprint-out quarterback in high school. That's all he did. Sprint out and disappear. That's all he had to do. Well, last year he was afraid he wasn't going to get to play as a sophomore. So he begged for a chance to make the defensive team, and we had no one better. At defense he didn't get to learn enough about reading blocks, hitting the holes, changing directions and running pass patterns to beat out anyone at halfback, and he couldn't throw well enough to beat out Fred Marshall at quarterback. Last spring and this September we had to keep him at quarterback because we weren't sure Brittenum would come through. But Jon did. The main thing, however, is that Jim Lindsey got hurt at wingback. Jones got in there, and man, oh, man."

Says Broyles, "Harry still doesn't quite know what he's doing, but he has such tremendous natural ability it doesn't seem to matter."

Despite the facts that Arkansas has Jones and a good passing game, it is still its defense—quick, smart, alert, and positively vulpine at seizing on mistakes—that has shredded most of the victims. It is a defense led by two wondrously big and agile tackles, Loyd Phillips and Jim Williams; a defense so unusually quick in its lateral movements that it can use dozens of stunts; and a defense that aggressively contains an opponent. Its members scramble, swarm and punch from Broyles's aptly named "monster" alignment, trying to inflict indecision on the foe.

The "monster" defense is merely a 5-4 alignment with an overshifted linebacker to the opponent's strong side. It was invented by Ray Graves, now the Florida coach, when both Graves and Broyles were assistants under Bobby Dodd at Georgia Tech. "We have maybe 16 or 17 variations on it now," says Broyles, "because athletes keep getting better, showing you more things you can do with them."

Strangely enough, the man who has refined this defense, adjusted to the passing game, replaced quick little men with quick big men, and who has put all of this together—the winning teams, the spirit, the organization—is relatively unknown outside the coaching fraternity. Who is Frank Broyles, anyhow? Even the most casual college fans have come to know Royal and Bryant, Duffy Daugherty and Ara Parseghian, and perhaps a few others. But Arkansas is so pastoral and remote, so new to success, that Broyles has remained unfamiliar. Last year, for example, although he had one of the only two teams with a perfect record after the bowl games, Broyles had to settle for co-Coach of the Year with Notre Dame's Parseghian.

He is, first of all, rich, or rapidly getting that way. Broyles's salary at Arkansas has risen through five raises in eight years from $15,000 to $23,500. This is a good deal for Arkansas President David Mullins, too. Under Arkansas custom the coach cannot earn more than the college president, so every time Broyles gets a raise, so does the president. The contract for his TV program ("It's incredible," says one coach) in Little Rock, seen throughout the state, nets him $10,000 more. Such lucrative arrangements do not make a man wealthy, of course, except that you can spend very little in Arkansas. Especially if people keep framing your checks instead of cashing them. It happens. Service stations, grocery stores, other small businesses, have framed Broyles's checks and hung them on their walls.

More important, Broyles's closest friend is Jack Stevens, a Little Rock millionaire. Stevens handles nearly all of Broyles's money, which is to say he invests it wisely. Broyles does not have any life-insurance costs—the university took out a $150,000 policy when he arrived. The car he drives is free, from a sponsor. Furthermore, until this year Broyles has never splurged. He used to give his wife, Barbara, a dishwasher for Christmas, but last time it was a mink. He used to give her a sewing machine for her birthday. Last time: a diamond. Finally, his home is being enlarged—he has six children—to about 3,800 square feet and a worth of some $55,000. Jack Stevens, one hears, has invested most wisely.

You would never guess, however, that Broyles would like to be wealthy—that he would like to do anything but play golf and coach football. He does not ever smoke or drink ("He's a grand guy," says a coaching associate, "but I wouldn't want to be trapped with him on V-J Day"), and he kicks off his shoes under the table of a fancy restaurant. His dialect is as southern as a plantation owner's, yet his manner of dress is neat, almost Ivy. He loves to talk. "One thing about Frank," says an appreciative football writer, "is that you call him up for a column, and you're stuck for an hour, getting eight columns."

Like most coaches Broyles is an incessant worrier, which forces him into nervous soliloquies, but when things are going well he is given to manic fits of verbal elation. He is lavish in his praise of his staff, to whom he delegates authority with ease and assurance. And he makes lightning decisions. "That's the main thing I learned from Dodd," he says. "You have to get good assistants and trust them, let them do their jobs and make your mind up quickly."

Largely, Broyles enjoys talking about Arkansas and how it was just sitting there, waiting for somebody to do the job.

"When I was at Georgia Tech, and we were constantly fighting Georgia for athletes, we used to sit around and think how wonderful it would be to have a whole state to ourselves," he says. "I tried like the dickens in 1953 to get this job, when they gave it to Bowden Wyatt, and I tried again in 1955, when they gave it to Jack Mitchell. But I'm glad now that I didn't get it then. It wasn't ready. It was perfect when I arrived. I knew it would be good—one school in the state with no pro team to compete for interest and the whole state against every Southwest Conference team. After all, I left my first head job at Missouri after only one year to get to Arkansas."

Broyles arrived in 1958 when Arkansas' physical plant was just taking shape. Athletic Director John Barnhill had been scrounging slowly for the funds, and getting them: to build the stadium in Little Rock, to enlarge the Fayetteville stadium, to build a new field house and a new athletic dormitory.

"Thanks to Barney," Broyles says, sincerely, "Arkansas had begun to lose its old image, that of a northwest Arkansas institution. At last, it had something good to show the athletes, and keep the good ones from leaving the state. South Arkansas kids used to go to LSU and east Arkansas kids used to slip away to Ole Miss. Well, look who got away. Players like Don Hutson, Bear Bryant, Ken Kavanaugh. Lots of 'em. In the old days, if you didn't sign a kid in his home, you didn't sign him. You couldn't let him see the campus."

Now you can. And you can send Frank Broyles to talk to him, anywhere. "Tell you what," says one Razorback rooter. "Frank'll get out of bed with a fever and come talk to your booster club, and he'll draw 500 folks in the smallest bitty town."

The improvements continue with the victories. Pre-Broyles, there were just three Arkansas booster clubs in the state. Now: 23. Pre-Broyles, the Fayetteville stadium held 31,000. Next year: 51,000. Pre-Broyles, the Little Rock stadium held 32,000. Now: 47,000. The athletic dorm is being redecorated, with study and recreational rooms added. The legislature is even cooperating, beyond the point of raising the salaries of Broyles, his assistants and President Mullins. A bill may soon pass that will consolidate more high schools in the state, which means that 50 more schools will be playing football. "And you might get 10 or 12 pretty good boys out of those," smiles Frank.

One last factor in Arkansas' favor is an ideal schedule, annually. First, Broyles got rid of Ole Miss as a steady opponent. "The Texas game could never be our big one as long as we were going to meet Ole Miss, too," he says. "Besides, seven conference teams is enough tearer-uppers." Next, in every season since 1961 he has scheduled a hand-chosen patsy—Northwest Louisiana (42-7), Hardin-Simmons (49-7), Tulsa (56-7), Wichita (17-0) and North Texas (56-20)—to follow the Texas game. Next year: Kansas State. "It gives us a mental rest," he says. "It's a definite advantage. As General Neyland used to say, 'When they look back at that 9-1 they don't ask who the nine were.' "

When he first came to Arkansas, Broyles had a little trouble selling the soft spot in the schedule to the fans, many of whom were disappointed to lose Ole Miss. But he was speaking to a booster group a few years ago and a fellow in the audience spoke up.

"Coach," he said, "it looks like to me if we're tryin' to win a lot of ball games, it would be nice to have several Northwest Louisianas on our schedule."

Broyles squealed delightedly, like a sooey pig.

"You're right, brother!" he yelped. "Brother, you're so right."

But as Frank Broyles is proving now, it does not much matter who Arkansas plays. The results seem to be the same. Some day, perhaps not in the very near future, J. Paul Scott will have to write a song about a very unique occasion: the day Arkansas lost.