Then and now with KSHOF inductee Chuck Broyles

Print by Ted Watts
By: Brian Pommier, Team Kong Contributor
Oct 9, 2013

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I was 23 years old, and had only recently been named sports editor at The Morning Sun. I went to a Pittsburg State football practice, knowing I would have to talk to him.

“Him” was Chuck Broyles. As a kid growing up in Arma -- and as a season-ticket holder with my dad -- I knew all about Broyles. I knew he had played for Carnie Smith. I knew he got a shot with the Pittsburgh Steelers. I knew he returned to Pittsburg and had taken a traditionally great football program and made it even better. I had been in the stands at Braly Municipal Stadium when he held the NCAA Division II trophy aloft.
As much as I hate to admit that I was intimidated, there’s no way around it.
So when practice was over and all the players headed for the Weede, I summoned all my courage and approached a childhood idol.
“Hi, Coach,” I said. “Can I talk to you for a minute?”
With a styrofoam cup in hand, he turned and gave me a blank stare.
“I don’t know who you’re used to talking to, but you don’t just come up to the head coach at Pittsburg State and ask if you can have a minute,” Broyles deadpanned. “At least not until he’s finished his Diet Pepsi.”
Two gulps of soda later, and he was ready to talk.
Broyles had -- and still has -- a playful air about him. And after coming from tiny Mulberry, Kan., and leading his alma mater to a national title, three national runners-up, nine MIAA championships and the most wins in school history, he is amazed at the journey.
“One of the things that crosses my mind is, ‘How did I get here from there,’ ” Broyles said. “I played 8-man football for Mulberry, Kansas, to standing on the sidelines at Pittsburg State’s homecoming to going into the Hall of Fame (Sunday). It’s just been quite a journey.”
On Saturday afternoon, on the sidelines during PSU’s 28-20 win over Abilene Christian, I spoke with Broyles again. Only this time, it was about his latest honor. Sunday afternoon, Broyles was inducted into the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame in Wichita, where he joined Carnie Smith -- his coach at PSU, and the man he supplanted as the coach with the most wins in program history.
Broyles took over a program from Dennis Franchione that was perennially making deep runs in the NAIA playoffs. But under Broyles’ direction, Pitt State made a successful leap to NCAA Division II, where the Gorillas came home with the national title in 1991, then appeared in the game in 1992, 1995 and 2004. 
And while Broyles was a great football coach, another strength of his may have been his ability to surround himself with other great football minds. Current head coach Tim Beck served as both defensive coordinator and later offensive coordinator under Broyles. Current University of Minnesota head coach Jerry Kill was an offensive coordinator for him. On Beck’s staff at Pitt State, here’s the list of coaches who either coached under Broyles, played for him or, in some cases, both: defensive coordinator Dave Weimers, defensive secondary coach Lance Cullen, defensive line coach Ryan Hellwig, running backs coach and recruiting coordinator John Pierce, linebackers coach Carl Roth, offensive line coach Steve Wells, tight ends coach -- and fellow KSHOF inductee -- Larry Garman, wide receivers coach Frank Naccarato and strength and conditioning coaches John Johnson and Neal Philpot.
“I think there’s only two that I didn’t hire or were graduate assistants for us,” Broyles said. “Coach Beck and his guys are doing good. They continue to do a great job.”
Broyles doesn’t come up with game plans anymore. He isn’t spending the late nights watching film and selling Pitt State to recruits and all the other things he did when he was head coach.
But don’t think that means he is ambivalent towards the team. Broyles still can be seen at most every game. In fact, a lot of times he can still be seen roaming the sidelines. He’ll stop and talk with media members and others with credentials to be down on the field. He’ll slap hands with players. But mostly, he just takes it all in.
“People will grab me and tell me it’s good to see me. They say I look so different, so relaxed now,” Broyles said with a chuckle. “So I guess I used to look a lot worse?”
It is a well-deserved time of relaxation for Broyles. And a well-deserved honor bestowed by the KSHOF.
To celebrate Coach Broyles' induction into the KSHOF, TeamKong will feature a 3-part radio interview with Mytown Media president Bill Wachter. Be sure to visit TeamKong throughout the week to hear from Coach Broyles as he looks back on his historic career and being part of the Pittsburg State community.

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