If you closely examined almost any corner of college football today, you'd find Frank Broyles' fingerprints.
In the state of Arkansas, he was larger than life for the better part of a century. If he entered a room, everyone knew it. His striking, sharp voice was unmistakable. His perfectly coiffed white hair and Razorback red sports jacket became his signatures. He grew to love Arkansas and the state returned the favor. He never left.
But Monday, college football lost one of the giants of the sport. At 92, Broyles died of complications of Alzheimer's disease.
Broyles went to Arkansas in 1958 and turned the Hogs into a winner, as they became mainstays on the giant stages of the Cotton Bowl and Sugar Bowl. He was the man who presided over the golden years of the program, winning Arkansas' only national title in 1964 and seven Southwest Conference titles before moving from the sidelines to a full-time role in administration and becoming one of the sport's most recognizable faces as a broadcaster. He compiled a 144-58-5 record in 19 seasons. That national championship team in 1964, by the way, included two players named Jerry Jones and Jimmy Johnson, who teamed up for an NFL dynasty in Dallas 30 years later. Broyles' coaching tree also included Hayden Fry, Johnny Majors and Barry Switzer.
Jerry Jones on the death of Frank Broyles: "Outside of my father, Frank Broyles was the most influential man in my life."- Chuck Carlton (@ChuckCarltonDMN) August 14, 2017
Broyles' lost a Game of the Century against Texas in 1969 with a sitting president in attendance, but he won adoration from the college football world at large, cementing a Southwest Conference rivalry that persisted for decades.
"Whether you were one of his players, coaches, colleagues or friends, a Razorback fan or fellow caregiver, you were an integral part of his fairy tale story," the Broyles family said in a statement. "To his family, he was quite simply, our hero."
Few men have the vision & strength to guide so many. Coach Broyles is the standard of Arkansas leadership & all of College Football #WPS- Bret Bielema (@BretBielema) August 14, 2017
Arkansans like myself loved him because he represented the state on the sport's biggest stages better than anyone. Arkansas is a small state rarely portrayed positively outside its borders. Most people don't know much about it or anyone from it. Broyles changed that. He gave Arkansans someone to be proud of, and even as he became a college football legend in a variety of roles, the state loved him most for what he did inside its borders for its flagship university.
"Oh, Frank Broyles! He's from Arkansas!"
He may have been born in Georgia and held a diploma from Georgia Tech, but make no mistake: Broyles was an Arkansan with more than 50 years of loyalty to back it up. No one was more synonymous with the state, and even as Bill Clinton, the state's young governor, rose to the highest office in the land, he was a fitting challenger for the title of The Natural State's most famous citizen.
Here's President Clinton's full statement on the death of J. Frank Broyles. pic.twitter.com/mimjin4CAn- Chris May (@KATVChrisMay) August 14, 2017
On television, Broyles made himself a face and voice millions wanted to welcome into their living rooms on Saturday afternoons in the fall. He retired from coaching in 1976. He then shared a broadcast booth with fellow legend Keith Jackson for the next nine seasons, while also serving as Arkansas' athletic director.
As the sport's voice grew louder, his words were what viewers heard.
Very sad day for razorback nation we lost a great one. Frank Broyles will forever be missed.- Darren McFadden (@dmcfadden20) August 14, 2017
Broyles hired Lou Holtz after he retired as head coach. As an administrator, he affected more than just Arkansas. College sports look markedly different without his influence. In the late 1980s, he saw where the future of the sport was heading.
In 1984, the Supreme Court ruled that conferences could negotiate their own television deals, stripping the NCAA of that privilege. In seeking the most valuable television deal possible, the SEC wanted to expand its footprint, and Broyles' weight in the sport helped assure that Arkansas was part of that expansion. He helped navigate Arkansas out of a 76-year relationship with the Texas-anchored Southwest Conference and into the Southeastern Conference alongside fellow new member South Carolina.
A Southwest Conference tied to one state predictably splintered just three years later, while Arkansas has enjoyed unprecedented security and wealth in the decades since as a member of the SEC, a conference built around the nation's most college football-crazed region.
Broyles' name also adorns the Broyles Award, given annually to college football's most outstanding assistant coach.
Brando: I don't know if anyone had more influence in more areas of college football (than Frank Broyles).- Bo Mattingly (@SportsTalkwBo) August 14, 2017
Broyles retired from the administration in 2007, but even after a decade away from direct involvement with the university, the governor felt compelled to speak out shortly after his death. Other state leaders weighed in, too.
A few years ago, the university honored Broyles with a statue outside Razorback Stadium. It was a thoughtful but unnecessary gesture: Arkansas' entire program is a tribute to Broyles' work. He built a roster, helped build a sport and built a program.
None of it looks the same without him.
For Broyles' life in college football, one thing was a constant: Whenever he arrived, glory days followed.