In 1958, Frank Broyles was in his first season as head coach of the University of Arkansas football team. The beginning was anything but successful.
Broyles lost his first six games as head coach. The first of his 144 wins — the most by any Razorbacks football coach — in a coaching career that began in 1958 and ended in 1976 came on Nov. 1, 1958 when Arkansas defeated Texas A&M. Arkansas went on to win its last four games and the Broyles era was launched.
Last week, Broyles was presented with a memento of his first win at Arkansas — the game ball from that win over Texas A&M. It was presented by Dr. Jason Richey and his family, of Paris.
Earlier this year, Richey purchased a collection of Razorbacks sports memorabilia. Richey is a self-described huge Razorbacks fan and an avid sports memorabilia collector. The ball from the win over Texas A&M was found in the collection and Richey and his family decided it really belonged to Broyles.
“It turns out that he doesn’t have one single game ball from any game he coached,” Richey said last week. “Especially his first win at Arkansas. That made this very special.”
The collection purchased by Richey includes items dating back to 1897 when the Razorbacks were known as the University of Arkansas Cardinals. Among the items in it is the ball used in the 1969 Arkansas-Texas football game, the first of many billed as The Game of the Century. No. 1 Texas defeated No. 2 Arkansas 15-14, after being down 14-0. The ball is signed by Broyles, Texas coach Darrell Royal and then-President Richard Nixon, who attended the game in Fayetteville.
After finding the 1958 Texas A&M game ball and doing research on it, Richey contacted the Broyles Foundation in Fayetteville and made known their wish to give it to Broyles. The Broyles family told them the former coach had no game balls from his career at Arkansas.
At that point a meeting was set up and it took place on Wednesday, June 7.
The Richey family traveled to Fayetteville and met with Broyles and his family to present the ball to him. According to Jason Richey, Broyles’ daughter had tears in her eyes when they thanked the Richeys.
“His face lit up when I handed him that football,” Richey said of Broyles. “That’s when I knew we had done the right thing. It was tough to let it go because I’m a huge Razorback fan but it was special to him and that’s why we did it.”