Sadly, one of the great coaches ever to walk the sidelines in a college football game is no longer with us. Former Texas coach Darrell Royal has passed away at the age of 88, a school spokesperson said Wednesday. Royal had suffered from Alzheimer’s disease. The AP wrote a story updating his health a week or so ago, and things did not sound promising at the time.
In 20 years at the University of Texas, Royal won 11 Southwest Conference titles, 10 Cotton Bowl championships and two national championships (1963 and ’69; ’70 UPI title). His 167-47-5 record at UT was the best record of any program in the country between 1957-1976. Royal later became athletic director at UT from 1962-1979.
The Oklahoma family has also extended its regrets — Royal played for the Sooners and earned All-America status in 1949 — following the news of Royal’s passing.
“The University of Oklahoma joins the rest of the nation in celebrating the life’s work of Darrell Royal,” said OU AD, Joe Castiglione in a statement. “We’ve truly lost an icon – a champion, an innovator and an educator. As an All-America player at the University of Oklahoma, he represented his home state with a unique versatility that we still celebrate today. Without question, he left an even more indelible mark on collegiate athletics during his distinguished coaching and administrative tenure at the University of Texas, where he made on immeasurable impact on the University and the countless individuals he touched.”
A believer in a solid run game, Royal installed the wishbone offense in 1968 and was quoted famously for “Three things can happen when you pass and two of `em are bad.”
Certainly, our condolences go to the Royal family and to Texas.
Updated 1:21 p.m. ET: Here’s a statement from Texas coach Mack Brown on Royal’s passing:
“Today is a very sad day. I lost a wonderful friend, a mentor, a confidant and my hero. College football lost maybe its best ever and the world lost a great man. I can hardly put in words how much Coach Royal means to me and all that he has done for me and my family. I wouldn’t even be at Texas without Coach. His council and friendship meant a lot to me before I came to Texas, but it’s been my guiding light for my 15 years here.
“Coach gave so much more to the State of Texas and college football than he took away. He forgot more football than most of us will ever know, including me. His impact on the game, the coaches and players, the community and the millions of lives he touched, is insurmountable. He will be missed in so many ways.
“I lost my Dad when I was 54, and Coach filled a real void in my life and treated me like family. Sally and I gained a lot coming to Texas and being a part of this tremendous program but no more than our relationship with Coach and Edith. They were our closest of friends. Our heart pours out to Edith and the family and our thoughts and prayers are with her and the family. We will always be there to lend any and all support that we can as she and Coach always did for us.”