NORMAN — Frank Broyles' death Monday was a sobering loss for the college football world and brought the former Arkansas coach and athletic director's larger-than-life career into focus.
Broyles was battling Alzheimer's. He was 92.
And he captured Barry Switzer’s attention long ago.
Switzer, whose three national championships as Oklahoma football's head coach help anchor the program’s tradition, was a junior at Arkansas when Broyles took over the Razorbacks in 1958.
Switzer’s two seasons under the Racorback icon helped steer his path into coaching.
Switzer, traveling in Italy, could not be reached by The Norman Transcript, but in an insightful interview with SECcountry.com said his plans to practice law after a stint in the U.S. Army changed after receiving Broyles’ offer to join the Razorbacks as a scout-team coach.
Switzer accepted and didn’t leave Fayetteville until being hired as OU’s offensive coordinator in 1966. Switzer served as Sooner head coach from 1973-1988 and later won the 1995 Super Bowl as Dallas Cowboys head coach.
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones played on Arkansas’ 1964 national championship team under Broyles, who became the school’s athletic director following 19 seasons in coaching and later developed into one of college football’s most popular broadcasters.
“The thing I think about Coach Broyles … there are only one or two people in your life you can say ‘Coach’ to,” Switzer told the website. “He was my ‘Coach.’ Someone I could call by ‘Coach.’ He had more influence on where I am in my life than any other individual, including myself. I mean that with the fact that if I hadn’t had him, I doubt if I’d have been a coach. He gave me the opportunity.”
OU coach Lincoln Riley penned a Twitter message in Broyles' honor. Riley won the 2015 Broyles Award as the nation’s top assistant.
“Truly saddened by the passing of Frank Broyles,” Riley wrote. “I treasure every minute I had with him. … He will be missed but his legacy will live on.”
• My captain, my captain: Riley will continue former OU coach Bob Stoops’ policy of allowing players to pick captains, but that decision isn’t expected this week.
“We’ll probably do something in the later part of [next week] or early part of game week [before the Sept. 2 season opener against UTEP],” Riley said. “I think we’ll [have the same policy]. I think that should be something that players choose.”
• Eyes on RBs: OU planned to hold a live scrimmage Tuesday at Owen Field to make up for Saturday’s, which didn’t take place due to rain.
A live-action view might be the only way for coaches to identify early separation in the crowded running back race. OU still has five different players in the mix: Rodney Anderson, Abdul Adams, Marcelias Sutton, Trey Sermon and Kennedy Brooks.
“Excited to see those guys live,” Riley said. “Sometimes offensive linemen, d-linemen, at times, you’ve got a pretty good feel, live, where they’re at, receivers [also]. Those guys are carrying the rock, they’ve gotta run through arm tackles."
• Of mice and men: A fluorescent, thick-shelled beetle crawled across Orlando Brown’s equipment Monday and drew an excitable reaction from the All-Big 12 lineman.
Unidentified insects give many people the creeps, even 6-foot-8, 345-pound offensive tackles. Are insects Brown’s phobia?
“Nah, man, I’m terrified of mice. I don’t play with mice,” Brown said. “I’m not really scared of insects or anything, but my dad (late NFL lineman Orlando “Zeus” Brown) played in Baltimore and we lived downtown, so we stayed right across from a restaurant on the water by a trash can. You can imagine all the mice that we would have. But man, I’m just terrified of mice. I don’t do mice. I can do insects though.