By Dr. Ken


HELMET HUT readers of a certain age have seen their football heroes, the names they immortalized in their memories, those players and coaches that populate the many Halls of Fame supported nationally, in-state, and at so many schools, pass away weekly. Some of the names remain “big” and among the most famous in the sport, others, well known regionally, but week by week, month by month those of “our age” or those who were in our consciousness when we came of age regarding our love of football, are themselves dying as they reach their older years. It is sad but of course, inevitable. Within the past weeks, that process continued as Dick MacPherson and Frank Broyles, two College Football Hall of Fame coaches died. Much has been written about both and I had a lengthy personal relationship with Coach MacPherson, reaching back to the mid-1960s at the University of Cincinnati [see HELMET HUT NEWS/REFLECTIONS September, 2015  http://www.helmethut.com/Features/Dr.Ken143.html].

Coach Mac as every article about his life stated was a warm, charismatic, motivating, father-like presence to all who were touched by him and there would be nothing I could add to the many wonderful things published about his life. The same could be said for Frank Broyles, certainly more known on a national scale among football fans and just as certainly one of the true titans of the college game in the Twentieth Century. The epic battles between Broyles and his Arkansas Razorbacks and Darrell Royal’s Texas Longhorns remain the stuff of legend and undeniably among the most important rivalries of the 1960s.







The author had the pleasure of meeting Frank Broyles in July of 1974, a bit more than a year prior to the photograph above. The Arkansas Razorbacks had hit a bit of a skid for their lofty standards under Broyles’ leadership. The solid 8 – 3 – 1 record of 1971 with a win against arch rival Texas had been followed by a pedestrian 6 – 5 and 5 - 5 – 1 the following two seasons and they lost to the Longhorns in both ’72 and ’73. Progressive and instinctive, Coach Broyles sought to gain a leg up on his opponents and decided to take what was considered to be the revolutionary step of introducing a full time strength training component to the Arkansas conditioning program. Certainly football players had begun to lift weights in larger numbers but even into the early 1970s there was a belief that an athlete could become “muscle bound,” lose speed, and sacrifice coordination and fluid athletic movement if they developed larger muscular structures utilizing weights and what were newly invented machines. Strength training on an organized basis was established by former pole vaulter Boyd Epley at the University of Nebraska in 1969 and they believed that their escape from what was considered to be mediocre football for the Big Red under the watch of their head coach Bob Devaney [see HELMET HUT NEWS/REFLECTIONS, June, July, and August of 2015] was significantly influenced by Epley’s work. Of course for those who know the history of the strength training profession, Boyd’s work at Nebraska revolutionized the industry and actually founded a new profession.


Broyles was smart, innovative, and open to new things that would bring victory to his Razorbacks. Like other head coaches in the nascent days of “strength training specifically for football,” he went directly to the source and hired Epley’s assistant coach Jim Williams. In what would be considered a rudimentary facility, Williams began to enhance the “physical plant” of his players and in the spring of 1974, ordered what were still new-to-the-public Nautilus training machines. Like many of the early employees at Nautilus, the author did a bit of everything that included welding in the prototype shop, factory landscaping, working the drill press and grinders, and driving the one tractor-trailer we had to deliver, install, and instruct regarding the use of the innovative equipment. I was extremely excited to be able to drive to Fayetteville to deliver the equipment to the University of Arkansas, speak with Coach Williams, and visit one of the truly great football programs of the mid-1960s. Of course, the facility, while excellent for the day, would be almost laughable relative to the beautiful complexes all of the major college programs now present. The addition of the dozen Nautilus pieces to the room augmented the barbell sets and home-made racks and dumbbells and Coach Williams made good use of all of it and I always believed that the hard work in the weight room contributed to the Razorbacks bounce-back 1975 record of 10 – 2.   





The current Arkansas strength and conditioning program under the direction of Head Coach Bret Bielema and his Strength and Conditioning Coach Ben Herbert enjoys one of the nation’s best facilities, a far cry from the first of the Arkansas weight rooms



The bonus for me was that Coach Broyles himself was at the stadium complex actually waiting for the truck’s arrival as he wanted to know everything possible about the new training equipment, how Coach Williams would utilize it, and see how the room would lay out. As memory serves, Coach Broyles was there for a number of hours and I had the honor of then sitting with him for lunch and a free-wheeling discussion about college football in general and Arkansas football specifically. In addition to the time given to me and the wonderful hospitality demonstrated by everyone on campus that I encountered, I was struck by the fact that Frank Broyles, certainly one of the biggest names in the college game, granted me so much of his time when there was absolutely no reason to do so other than courtesy and consideration. That personal side of him always stood out much more than his professional success as a coach, athletic director, and football broadcaster and analyst.




Every article about Coach Broyles following his August 14, 2017 passing rightfully focused upon his head coaching years at the University of Arkansas with the crowning achievement of the 1964 National Championship [ see HELMET HUT  http://www.helmethut.com/College/Arkansas/ARXXUA6466.html]  but one of numerous highlights. However, and no doubt unlike every other football enthusiast, the first thing I thought of was Broyles’ legacy at Georgia Tech, one that should be recognized as equally impressive as the one he established at Arkansas. As a three-sport, ten letter winner at Tech, continuing his mastery of football, baseball, and basketball that he was known for at Decatur (Georgia) Boys High School, he was also the All Southeastern Conference quarterback in both 1944 and 1946, absent in ’45 while he fought in the United States Navy. In the January 1, 1945 Orange Bowl in a 26 – 12 losing effort against Tulsa, he set a passing record of 304 yards, certainly an unheard of mark for that era.




Frank Broyles of Georgia Tech putting it to Tulsa in the January 1, 1945 Orange Bowl


He was, after assistantships at Baylor and Florida, Georgia Tech’s offensive coach (coordinator) from 1951 through ’56 before taking over the head job at Missouri in 1957 [see HELMET HUT  http://www.helmethut.com/College/Missouri/MOXXMU5760.html]. In 1958 Broyles moved to Arkansas and very accurately, “the rest is history.” That history includes the establishment of the Broyles Award given to what is determined to be the best college assistant coach in the nation. Broyles, under the direct influence of his mentor Bobby Dodd at Georgia Tech, developed so many assistant coaches and/or former players who went on to become head coaches in the collegiate and professional ranks, that this award was established in his honor. Interjecting a personal note, the author’s son was one of the five finalists for the prestigious Broyles Award, one made more meaningful because the finalists are chosen by a vote of 1500 college assistant coaches each year.


Thus began my thoughts related to Georgia Tech and the Bobby Dodd era, one marked by an approach to football practice and preparation that differed quite a bit from what was typical for the era and certainly different from what was seen as standard in the southern region of the U.S. Like Broyles, Dodd has had numerous books written about his methods, success, and life at Tech, one that was revered and every bit as legendary as Broyles, the player and assistant coach he mentored and mentor was the emphasized attitude with Dodd. Unlike coaches of his era, he delegated much if not most of the actual hands-on coaching to his assistants. He was viewed as a tremendous organizer who was astute in choosing the right men for the specific jobs they were assigned to, and maintained a stern but fatherly demeanor towards his players. Before Broyles established a reputation for developing assistant coaches who became head coaches, Bobby Dodd did the same and did it while establishing some history of his own.


Part Two To Follow