Two Cents: Forget Heath, Broyles Needs to Re-Evaluate AD (4/6/05)

(I worked as a Sports Editor from late 2004 until the summer of 2006. This is one of the many columns I was able to save that were originally published in The Sun-Times of Heber Springs, Arkansas.)

Frank Broyles has done more for the University of Arkansas than anyone ever to set foot in the Natural State. But it is time for Broyles to step down before he wrecks everything he has spent the last 40 years building.

By now, everyone has heard of the questionnaire and list of suggestions he handed head basketball coach Stan Heath. The purpose of the questionnaire was to gauge the state of Hog basketball, so the coach and the AD could get together and work out the kinks.

Heath filled out the paperwork within his allotted deadline, but to my knowledge, Broyles hasn’t sat down with his coach as of yet.

I can’t figure out this business with the questionnaire. Is Broyles second-guessing himself on Heath’s hiring? I remember Broyles being one of the most vocal supporters upon Stan’s hire, and it doesn’t take a Stephen Hawking to figure out that Broyles had the final say so on who would be the new basketball coach.

So why the quiz? Is it because the Hogs had another down year, even though progress has been gradually made in each of Heath’s three years? I guess under ferociously old Frank, the third year is the litmus test.

Maybe this is ‘out of the box’ thinking, but I’ve always believed you have to give a coach enough time to recruit his type of players and give those players a chance to be seniors. If the team is no better off when those seniors have graduated, re-evaluate.

Because Heath was hired so late in the recruiting process, his first year shouldn’t even count. You know those weren’t the type of players Heath would normally covet, as evidenced by the caliber of player he has signed the last two seasons.

The questionnaire also seems a little impersonal to me. It smacks of an ‘I know all the right answers to this; you better find them out’ ultimatum.

And why does this have to be so public? I can’t think of a single athletic director in the NCAA that has more of a presence than Broyles. The two people he most reminds me of is Jerry Jones and Al Davis, two meddling owners who often dictate personnel and game planning decisions to their coaching staff.

Along with the questionnaire, Broyles also handed Heath a list of things he “believes” due to his coaching experience. Am I wrong, or did he last coach a game almost 30 years ago? And wasn’t it football, not basketball?

The world has changed immensely in the three decades since he last hung up the whistle. When Broyles last coached, it was still alright for Woody Hayes to beat the crap out of his players on the sideline.

I think Broyles giving Heath suggestions because he coached a different sport 30 years ago, is like my mom giving me advice on writing a sports column because she did a book report on volleyball in the 60s.

He is also “suggesting” candidates for Heath to hire for a recently vacated assistant position, which begs the question: Is Heath just a puppet?

It was my understanding that when you hire a coach, you let him run the basketball program and then get out of the way.  I have never heard of an AD giving a head coach a list of potential assistants.

Another burning question I have is why stop with Heath? If anyone deserves to fill out a questionnaire on the state of his program, it’s Houston Nutt. Nutt hasn’t done much of anything since he’s been there but has the full support of Broyles.

(At least for now.)

Or how about Susie Gardner, whose Lady Hogs finished the season at 3-10 in the SEC. I guess Broyles’ refusal to play interstate squads doesn’t apply to the ladies, who played – and got hammered – ASU in the women’s NIT.

This is scary, but maybe there was some truth in Nolan’s rants about the people in charge on the hill. Racist comments aside, maybe Broyles was just tired of a head-strong coach, and maybe he’s trying to hog-tie the new one.



Categories: Arkansas Razorbacks, Basketball, sports

Tags: , , , ,

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