Darrell Royal

Darrell Royal
Royal in 1966
Sport(s) Football
Biographical details
Born (1924-07-06)July 6, 1924
Hollis, Oklahoma
Died November 7, 2012(2012-11-07) (aged 88)
Austin, Texas
Playing career
1946–1949 Oklahoma
Position(s) Quarterback, defensive back
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
1950 NC State (assistant)
1951 Tulsa (assistant)
1952 Mississippi State (off. backs)
1953 Edmonton Eskimos
1954–1955 Mississippi State
1956 Washington
1957–1976 Texas
Administrative career (AD unless noted)
1962–1980 Texas
Head coaching record
Overall 184–60–5 (college)
Bowls 8–7–1
Accomplishments and honors
3 National (1963, 1969–1970)
11 SWC (1959, 1961–1963, 1968–1973, 1975)
Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year (1961, 1963)
AFCA Coach of the Year (1963, 1970)
Sporting News College Football COY (1963, 1969)
Paul "Bear" Bryant Lifetime Achievement Award (2000)
Amos Alonzo Stagg Award (2010)
College Football Hall of Fame
Inducted in 1983 (profile)

Darrell K Royal (July 6, 1924 – November 7, 2012) was an American football player and coach. He served as the head coach at Mississippi State University (1954–1955), the University of Washington (1956), and the University of Texas (1957–1976), compiling a career college football record of 184–60–5. In his 20 seasons at Texas, Royal's teams won three national championships (1963, 1969, and 1970), 11 Southwest Conference titles, and amassed a record of 167–47–5. He won more games than any other coach in Texas Longhorns football history. Royal also coached the Edmonton Eskimos of the Canadian Football League (CFL) for one season in 1953. He never had a losing season as a head coach for his entire career. Royal played football at the University of Oklahoma from 1946 to 1949. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as a coach in 1983. Darrell K Royal – Texas Memorial Stadium in Austin, Texas, where the Longhorns play their home games, was renamed in his honor in 1996.

Early life

"K" is Royal's given middle name, not an abbreviation. He received it in honor of his mother, Katy, who died when he was an infant. She died of cancer, but because of the stigma surrounding the disease at that time, Royal was led to believe until he was an adult that she had died giving birth to him.[1]

Playing career

In 1942, during World War II, Royal finished Hollis High School, where he had played football. He joined the United States Army Air Corps, where he played football for the 3rd Air Force team during 1945 and was spotted and recruited by scouts for the University of Oklahoma Sooners football program.[2] He played quarterback and defensive back at the University of Oklahoma under his mentor, coach Bud Wilkinson, from 1946 to 1949. While attending Oklahoma, he joined the Delta Upsilon Fraternity.

Royal was most noted for his prowess as a defensive back, where his 18 career interceptions and his three interceptions in the 1947 game against Oklahoma A&M (now Oklahoma State) are still Sooner records.[3][4]

Royal's part-time contributions as quarterback had a similar impact, despite the fact that he shared time with Jack Mitchell and Claude Arnold at the position. He threw a 43-yard pass against North Carolina in the 1949 Sugar Bowl. Royal holds the fourth-best winning percentage in school history (minimum 15 starts) with a 16–1 mark as a part-time quarterback starter. His 11–0 mark as a starter in 1949 ranks as one of the best seasons in school history.[3][4]

In 1992, Royal was inducted into the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame.[5]

Coaching career

Early positions

Royal served as an assistant coach at North Carolina State, Tulsa and Mississippi State. He coached the Edmonton Eskimos of the Canadian Football League, and in 1954, he returned to Mississippi State[6] for his first collegiate head coaching job. He spent the 1956 season as head coach at the University of Washington.

University of Texas

Royal took over as head coach at the University of Texas (UT) in December 1956. The team went from a 1–9 record, their worst record ever, in 1956 to a 6–4–1 mark and a berth in the Sugar Bowl in 1957. Within two years, Royal had the Longhorns in the Cotton Bowl as the number-four team in the country. In Royal's 20 years as head coach, Texas never had a losing season. Royal posted a 167–47–5 career record at Texas. His overall coaching record was 184–60–5. Some of his most memorable games were against the University of Arkansas Razorbacks, and fellow College Football Hall of Fame head coach Frank Broyles.

With Royal at the helm, Texas won the school's first three undisputed national championships (1963, 1969 and 1970), won or shared 11 Southwest Conference championships, and made 16 bowl appearances. His 1963 and 1969 teams finished the season undefeated and untied—something no Longhorn team would do again until 2005.

Royal's teams were known for being very run-oriented. The quote, "Three things can happen when you pass, and two of them are bad," is often attributed to Royal, but Royal himself attributed it to another run-first coach, Woody Hayes.[7]

Royal's coaching tactics were the subject of criticism in Gary Shaw's exposé of college football recruiting and coaching practices, Meat on the Hoof, which was published in 1972, six years after Shaw left the Texas football program.[8]

Beginning in 1962, Royal also served as Texas' athletic director. He retired from coaching in 1976 and remained director of athletics until 1980. He then served as special assistant to the university president on athletic programs.

During his tenure, Royal oversaw the integration of African-Americans into the UT athletics program. At that time, while UT began admitting black students in 1956 and opening the athletics program to them in 1963, there were no black student-athletes well into the late 1960s. In 2005, Royal retrospectively noted that "things they are a-changing. But they weren't changing that quickly around here at the time.".[9] He offered a scholarship to Julius Whittier of San Antonio after the last recipient dropped out due to poor academic performance, and Whittier became the first black student-athlete to play for the Texas Longhorns football team. Whittier went on to graduate from the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs in 1976 with a master's degree and works as a chief prosecutor with the Dallas District Attorney's Office.[10][11]

Royal also coached Freddie Steinmark, who was a member of the 1969 Longhorns National Championship team and subsequently died from bone cancer. Steinmark has been the topic of several books and a 2015 movie, My All American where Royal was portrayed by Aaron Eckhart.

In 1996, the University honored Royal by renaming Texas Memorial Stadium as Darrell K Royal – Texas Memorial Stadium. Royal was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1983.[12]

Coach Royal was famous for the inspirational Royalisms he deployed as motivational tools. These sayings include:

  • "God gives talent, size, speed. But a guy can control how hard he tries."
  • "I want to be remembered as a winning coach, but I also want to be remembered as an honest and ethical coach."
  • "You've got to think lucky. If you fall into a mud hole, check your back pocket—you might have caught a fish."
  • "Punt returns will kill you quicker than a minnow can swim a dipper."
  • "Don't matter what they throw at us. Only angry people win football games."[13]


Royal died on November 7, 2012, due to complications of Alzheimer's disease.[14][15] He is interred at the Texas State Cemetery in Austin, Texas.

Royal was survived by his wife Edith (b. 1925), whom he married on July 26, 1944. They have a son, Sammy Mack, and two predeceased children, Marian Royal Kazen (1945–73) and David Wade Royal (1952–82), both of whom died in automobile-related accidents.[15]

Head coaching record

Year Team Overall ConferenceStanding Bowl/playoffs Coaches# AP°
Mississippi State Maroons (Southeastern Conference) (1954–1957)
1954 Mississippi State 6–43–3T–6th
1955 Mississippi State 6–44–46th
Mississippi State: 12–87–7
Washington Huskies (Pacific Coast Conference) (1956)
1956 Washington 5–54–4T–4th
Washington: 5–54–4
Texas Longhorns (Southwest Conference) (1957–1976)
1957 Texas 6–4–14–1–12ndL Sugar1111
1958 Texas 7–33–34th
1959 Texas 9–25–1T–1stL Cotton44
1960 Texas 7–3–15–2T–2ndT Bluebonnet17
1961 Texas 10–16–1T–1stW Cotton43
1962 Texas 9–1–16–0–11stL Cotton44
1963 Texas 11–07–01stW Cotton11
1964 Texas 10–16–12ndW Orange55
1965 Texas 6–43–4T–4th
1966 Texas 7–45–22ndW Bluebonnet
1967 Texas 6–44–3T–3rd
1968 Texas 9–1–16–1T–1stW Cotton53
1969 Texas 11–07–01stW Cotton11
1970 Texas 10–17–01stL Cotton13
1971 Texas 8–36–11stL Cotton1218
1972 Texas 10–17–01stW Cotton53
1973 Texas 8–37–01stL Cotton814
1974 Texas 8–45–2T–2ndL Gator17
1975 Texas 10–26–1T–1stW Astro-Bluebonnet76
1976 Texas 5–5–14–45th
Texas: 167–47–5109–27–2
      National championship         Conference title         Conference division title or championship game berth

See also


  1. Dingus, Anne. "Darrell Royal". TexasMonthly.com. Retrieved June 13, 2006.
  2. "Darrell Royal". Horatio Alger Association. 1996.
  3. 1 2 "2006 Oklahoma Sooners Media Guide" (PDF). Soonersports.com. University of Oklahoma Athletic Department. p. 153. Archived from the original (PDF) on July 18, 2007. Retrieved August 22, 2007.
  4. 1 2 "Oklahoma Sooners Record Book". Soonerstats.com. 2007.
  5. "Royal, Darrell, Inducted 1992 – Football". Archived from the original on 15 April 2013. Retrieved 12 October 2012.
  6. "Season Results". CFDW. Archived from the original on July 6, 2009. Retrieved September 26, 2009.
  7. Jones, Todd (September 9, 2006). "Royal took Longhorns from oblivion to No. 1". The Columbus Dispatch.
  8. Butts, Mike. "Tarnished Legends". Austin Chronicle. Retrieved September 30, 2006.
  9. Drape, Joe (December 23, 2005). "Changing the Face of Texas Football". The New York Times.
  10. "First African-American to Play UT Football, LBJ School Alum Julius Whittier Visits Longhorn Team; Shares Personal Story About Becoming an LBJ School Student". utexas.edu. December 1, 2010. Archived from the original on October 13, 2014.
  11. "Changing the Field: Integrating Athletics at UT". utexas.edu. February 10, 2014.
  12. "College Football Hall of Fame". Archived from the original on 9 December 2012. Retrieved 12 October 2012.
  13. McEachern, Jenna Hays (2012). DKR: The Royal Scrapbook. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press. p. 192. ISBN 978-0-292-70493-0.
  14. Goldstein, Richard (November 7, 2012). "Darrell Royal, Texas Coach Who Pioneered Wishbone Offense, Dies at 88". The New York Times.
  15. 1 2 "Darrell Royal meant more than wins". ESPN. November 7, 2012.
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