Legendary coach Darrell Royal dies at 88

Shortly after I was named as Sports Editor for the Daily Texan at UT in 1965, a wide receiver named George Sauer decided to skip his final season with the Longhorns and signed with the New York Jets.

Darrell Royal was very angry about the move and gave an exclusive story to the Austin American-Statesman.  Royal was unavailable to return my calls. so I called Jets coach Weeb Eubanks to get his side of the story.  Eubanks could not have been nicer.  He explained why they made the move.  Apparently I was one of the few people in Texas who called him so my story became something of an exclusive.

In an opinion piece I also explained how the red shirt system benefited players and the team without really taking sides on Sauer's decision.  It was at the heart of the controversy about Sauer's move.  However the previous Sports Editor, Paul Burka wrote an opinion piece that appeared as an Op Ed entitled "The Bloody Shirt."  Royal was inscened.  He finally gave me a call and I got my first exclusive story from him.

I liked Coach Royal.  He was smart and colorful in describing the games and how he coached.  He and Emory Bellard later developed the Wishbone offense with its triple option which took defenses coaches years to catch up with.  Royal's description of a young defensive back was, "He was as nervous as a country dog in the city."

Royal helped to make Texas football what it is today.  He was the first UT coach to recruit black players  and attracted greats like Earl Campbell.

One of my other exclusive stories with Coach Royal came when a group of Alumni wanted to build a new larger stadium down on what was then called Town Lake.  Royal liked having the stadium on campus where students could walk to the games.  So the stadium that now bears his name was expanded with upper decks and additions.  It is one of the great facilities in college sports and routinely attracts 100,000 fans to watch games there.

Darrell Royal made the transition from being a Sooner quarterback to coach and never looked back.  He will be missed.


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