Thursday, November 8, 2012


"I want to be remembered as a winning coach, but I also want to be remembered as an honest and ethical coach." -- Darrell Royal

One of the coaching icons, Darrell Royal, just entered the football hall of heaven. He joins another legendary icon from Arkansas, Paul "Bear" Bryant.
Two of my favorite stories from the coaching lexicon revolve around these hallowed saints.
Once before a bowl game, Royal was queried if he planned anything different or surprising for the upcoming foe.
He quipped: "It's like when you take a girl to the local barn dance. You dance with the one who brung ya."
In other words, you maintain the offense and the defense that brung ya to the bowl game.
Royal and Arkansas' iconic coach Frank Broyles shared a unique relationship.
They were best friends during the off-season and enjoyed playing golf together. Their families even vacationed together.
That's unheard of in the modern era where some coaches exchange epithets rather than handshakes at the end of a hotly contested game.
The penultimate reward for a coach is to have the football field named after him.
Both Royal and Broyles share that honor.
When Royal announced his retirement prior to the conclusion of the 1976 season, Broyles preferred to forgo his announcement until after the Arkansas-Texas game.
But Orville Henry, the sports editor of the Arkansas Gazette, and a close personal friend of Broyles, thought it would give Texas a distinctive advantage that Royal's announcement might provide inspiration and motivation to the Longhorns, knowing their illustrative coach was bowing out.
So, Henry announced Broyles retirement prior to the game.
Broyles didn't appreciate the gesture because he had only told close friends.
Nevertheless, Texas upended the Razorbacks, 29-12.
Here's another gem from Royal: "You've got to think lucky. If you fall into a mud hole, check your back pocket, you might have caught a fish."
In the 1982 Sugar Bowl, Arkansas clashed with No. 1 Alabama.
"Bear" Bryant remembered a young coach climbing up his tower once during a practice session to try and impress him with a fake punt he'd devised.
Sure enough Bryant remembered that encounter and used that fake punt against Arkansas and Lou Holtz en route to the national championship-clinching victory.
I had the pleasure of covering that bowl game. My assignment was to go to the Alabama dressing room and interview the winning Crimson Tide.
Coach Bryant's quotes were indistinguishable on my tape recorder. He sounded like a bullfrog.
I had to resort to the Alabama hand out sheet to quote Bryant.
I always wondered why or if he ever contemplated coaching at Arkansas. He grew up near Fordyce, Arkansas.
In his biography I read that he was discontented at Kentucky and pondered interviewing for the vacancy position at Arkansas.
So, the Kentucky alumni furnished Bryant with a bottle of whiskey and kept him all night drinking and negotiating. He signed a new contract for $5,000 more.
What if Arkansas had reciprocated?
Oh, my!
Just another day in sports memorabilia.

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