Pitt State run sparks memories for Broyles

12/17/2011 12:00 AM

12/17/2011 9:04 AM

There they were, Chuck Broyles and the kid.

It was 1990, and Broyles had just taken over the Pittsburg State football program from Dennis Franchione.

Besides Broyles, one coach remained off Franchione's staff — a graduate assistant named Tim Beck who had just finished playing for the Gorillas a couple of years earlier.

And there they were.

"I looked around and it was just me and Tim, and he wasn't even full-time yet," Broyles said, laughing. "We were the only two coaches left. And Tim was with me for all 20 years even though he had opportunities to leave and to move on before he finally got the opportunity to lead and he's made the most of it."

Broyles, Pittsburg State's coaching wins leader, has remained largely in the shadows since resigning two years ago amid controversy — a 3-6 season and a DUI arrest in Galena ushered his exit as both football coach and athletic director — but he's been anything but removed from the program.

He still goes to practice. He still goes to games. Every now and then he'll text a defensive coach and tells them not to lose their guts. But that's the extent of his unsolicited advice.

"If they want me, I'm here," Broyles said.

And now, in Beck's second year as coach, the Gorillas are back in the NCAA Division II national championship game, where they'll face Wayne State today on ESPN in Florence, Ala., 20 years after Broyles led the Gorillas to the 1991 national title in the same place — in his second year as coach.

Even Broyles, who will be at today's game, marvels at the parallels.

"It is kind of amazing, when you look at the similarities," said Broyles, who lost in the title game in 1995 and 2004. "I had a guy ask me the other day, 'Well, the Gorillas are doing pretty good but I bet you don't want them to do too good,' and I took offense to that. I want nothing but success for the Gorillas. If they weren't doing good, that I would take personally."

Broyles spends his days going between three locations — his house in Pittsburg, some acreage in Cherokee County, and a farm in Missouri where he hunts, fishes, does carpentry and, some of the time, reflects on his career. The good and the bad.

"Well, it's 42 years that I coached, so that's a lot to leave behind... but one of the things I've enjoyed is that I have some other interests where some of the people I coached with, they don't fish, they don't hunt, they can't build, they don't even own a saw," Broyles said. "When I left coaching I was still having fun, but it was to the point where it was becoming a burden to me personally and I did need some time away. It's been a relaxed couple of years."

"It's just so much different now because I watch (Pittsburg State) with a little different twist than your average fan — I don't try to be critical. I just watch the games and enjoy them. The things I miss the most are the interactions with the players and preparing for the games... and that buzz you get when you're down there on the sideline. It'd be hard to tell you I don't miss that."

It's not hard to see Broyles' impact on this year's roster — starting quarterback Zac Dickey and All-America linebacker Nate Dreiling, the MIAA defensive player of the year, were both his recruits. He said the decision to redshirt Dreiling, a sophomore, wasn't his, however. That honor goes to Dreiling's father, Hutchinson High coach Randy Dreiling.

"I sat in Nate's living room with him and his dad, and his father said, 'Coach, I want him to go to Pitt State, I want him to have a scholarship and I want him to redshirt,'" Broyles said. "And we've all seen the results. He's able to take a game over in a way that not many defensive players can. He doesn't just make tackles, he forces fumbles, he gets interceptions, he gets sacks and tackles for loss... the coaching staff has done such a good job with him."

Broyles wasn't scared to make a prediction for today's game, either.

"There's been some years where we've been in the title game where we needed to have the other team not play their best and we needed to play perfect," Broyles said. "I look for the Gorillas to win a national championship on Saturday."

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