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Former Texas coach Darrell Royal passes away at 88

Texas Royal Alzheimers Football AP

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.”

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10 Responses to “Former Texas coach Darrell Royal passes away at 88”
  1. irishdodger says: Nov 7, 2012 10:56 AM


  2. trojan33sc says: Nov 7, 2012 11:05 AM

    Awesome offense in his time with “Johnny Lam/Ham/Bam Jones” !! R.I.P.

  3. gorilladunk says: Nov 7, 2012 12:32 PM

    Always had a ton of respect for Coach Royal. As a Sooners fan, we held him in high regard for his great years as a player at OU. He even still holds some team records at OU. Sad day, even though people in these parts knew his health had been failing him in recent years.

  4. rockgate says: Nov 7, 2012 12:45 PM

    Truly a sad day for Horn fans….and the kind words from our biggest rival, OU, are appreciated.

    What great games those were…..Royal on one side, Switzer on the other…..

    ‘Hook EM’…..and ‘Boomer Sooner’ too.

  5. raysfan1 says: Nov 7, 2012 1:04 PM

    Gone but never forgotten. RIP to a legend of the game and prayers for peace and comfort for his loved ones.

  6. dylude says: Nov 7, 2012 3:16 PM

    I love my university but I don’t have a find memory of Darrel K Royal who was in a unique position to integrate Ut athletics with African American athletes and stood idly by (by most accounts was a bulwark against earlier integration). You can do great things, but when your moral fiber comes into question and you don’t answer the bell…. It’s something that can’t be re-written over over-written. Maybe racial justice doesn’t mean much to others, but it’s a moral issue, just like the abuse of children because minority students were defenseless while integrating Texas and Darrel K Royal never answered the bell as the figurehead of the athletics program.

  7. amosalanzostagg says: Nov 7, 2012 7:07 PM


    You may be a texas grad, but you know nothing of DKR. Ask Roosevelt Leaks and Earl Campbell about DKR and how he did bring black athletes into a prominent role int Texas football. Hint: DKR was at the fore in recruiting blacks to UT. FYI Leaks was recruited from Brenham in 1971 and Earl from Tyler in 1974 went to Texas because of DKR. Earl’s brothers followed Earl to Texas because DKR readily accepted blacks into the UT family. As AD he did even more to integrate UT athletics. Have some actual facts before you take a holier than thou attitude.

  8. usmcbronzestar says: Nov 7, 2012 10:30 PM

    May he rest in Heaven!

  9. gorilladunk says: Nov 8, 2012 8:30 AM

    @amos alonzo…perhaps YOU should do a little research. Royal admitted MANY times that early in his career at Texas, he had little regard for integrating the football program at Texas. He (Royal) credited LBJ with making him see the light and helping change his attitude about blacks. Look at the team photo of the 1969 nat’l champs and tell me how many blacks are in the photo. I’l help you….NONE! royal eventually recruited and brought blacks into the program, but much later than many of his counterparts. Those are the FACTS. Royal was a great coach and a fine man, but his record is his record and all the pencil erasers in the world won’t change that.

  10. amosalanzostagg says: Nov 8, 2012 7:17 PM


    Er, maybe you should step away from whatever you are smoking. The SWC was not intergrated until Jerry Levias broke the color barrier @ SMU in 1967. Blame the existing social mores in Texas @ the time, but not DKR. Royal’s Texas teams were loaded with talent in 1968, 1969 and 1970 with kids that had already committed to Texas and Ballard’s new offense. I knew DKR personally and he did not recruit blacks even after his first NC in 1963 because of outright racial bigotry on a wholesale scale in Texas.
    Roosevelt Leaks and Earl Campbell were the first of many blacks DKR effectively recruited to UT because they were comfortable with DKR. Recruiting goes both ways, the recruit has to like the coach, his program, and the environment. DKR succeeded in that manner. Yes,The national championship squad in 1969 was all white, you are correct. Royal had enormous hurdles to over come in the State of Texas and remedied that by actively stepping up to the plate. DKR did a great job as AD in making sure that all of the teams UT fielded had more than enough of qualified, quality athletes regardless of skin color.

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