It has been one of the crazier sports afternoons I can remember in Arkansas, and my involvement with sports in this state goes back a few decades.
I’m reminded of that Sunday before Labor Day in 1992 when I was the political editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and covering Bill Clinton’s presidential campaign rally in downtown Hot Springs.
It already was becoming clear that the next president of the United States would be a guy who grew up in Hot Springs, and here he was back in his old stomping grounds.
When I called the newsroom in Little Rock to see how much room I had for my story, I was told to “keep it short.”
“Keep it short?” I said. “How could there possibly be a bigger story in Arkansas today?”
The answer from the other end of the line: “Frank Broyles just fired Jack Crowe after one game.”
I kept the story short.
This reminds me a lot of that day. It’s a day when I wish I were back in my old role as assistant sports editor at Capitol and Scott (but only for a day).
I was with Coach Broyles at lunch today. I should clarify that: There were several hundred of us who had lunch with Coach Broyles at the Peabody Hotel in downtown Little Rock. It was the day of the annual Broyles Award, the brilliant idea conceived by David Bazzel in 1996 that now draws national attention to the city.
David and the good folks at the Rotary Club of Little Rock did their usual fine job. We have seen a number of past winners — men such as David Cutcliffe, Ralph Friedgen, Mark Mangino, Randy Shannon, Gene Chizik and Gus Malzahn — go on to become head coaches.
In fact, several of those men have become head coaches and already been fired as head coaches in the crazy world of college football.
This year’s Broyles Award winner, Notre Dame defensive coordinator Bob Diaco, was an impressive speaker and is apparently among the finalists for the head coaching job at Boston College. He hails from New Jersey so knows how to relate to coaches and recruits in the Northeast.
I had just returned to my office when the news broke of Bret Bielema’s hiring at the University of Arkansas.
Within minutes of that, we learned that Gus Malzahn would be leaving Arkansas State University to be the head coach at Auburn University.
As I said, it has been a wild afternoon.