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Royal a hallowed Horn
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Forsyth County News
How many college football stadiums are named for a former coach?

If you exclude the state of Alabama and city of Atlanta, there aren’t many. But one should immediately come to mind:
Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium, in Austin, the home of the Longhorns.

Texas has had some great coaches through the years. In fact, only one of their 28 head coaches compiled a losing record. But they never seemed to stick around very long. Through 1956, Dana Xenophon Bible was the Longhorn’s winningest coach, compiling a 63-31-3 record from 1937-1946.

Royal arrived in 1957, and over the next 20 glorious seasons he rang up the best record in college football. His record was 167-47-5, a winning percentage of .774. During an amazing stretch from 1961 through 1970, Royal’s teams went 89-17-2, and won three national championships (‘63, ‘69, and ‘70).

He never had a losing season, and that’s quite a feat, considering that he inherited a team that went 1-9 under Ed Price in 1956.

By 1961, running an innovative offense known as the “Flip Flop Wing-T,” his Horns were 10-1. His ‘62 team lost only to LSU in the Cotton Bowl.

His ‘63 team finally broke through, going undefeated and winning the school’s first national championship, defeating Navy and quarterback Roger Staubach, 28-6, in the Cotton Bowl.

After a 10-1 season in ‘64, teams finally began to diagnose Royal’s offense. The mid-60’s saw three straight four-loss seasons. It looked like time for another innovation.

Eureka! Royal and his offensive coordinator, Emory Bellard, devised the Wishbone offense in 1968. No one had ever seen anything like it, let alone devised a way to stop it. The ‘68 ‘Horns tied Houston in their opener, and then lost to Texas Tech. They wouldn’t lose again until Jan. 1, 1971, a span of 30 straight wins.

Royal loved the Wishbone because there was no need to pass. In a famous comment, he noted that three things could happen when you passed, and two of them were bad.

“Well, I was kidding,” Royal revealed in his book, “Coach Royal.“

“We had a good running attack that year. We were leading the nation in scoring, and still I would be asked, ‘When are you going to start throwing the ball?’ So I made that statement. I had no idea that that would go around the way it did.”

Royal uttered another famous line about his propensity for running the football: “Dance with the one that brung ya!”

Born in Hollis, Okla. on July 6, 1924, Royal played at Oklahoma in the late ‘40s for Bud Wilkinson. He still holds Sooner records for career interceptions (18), interceptions in a game (three), and for returning a punt 96 yards. As a starting quarterback, he posted a 16-1 record, including 11-0 in 1949.

While Royal quickly endeared himself to the Texas faithful, it was still irksome that the Longhorns were being led by a Sooner. So, after his first season, the Texas legislature made Royal an Honorary Texan.

Part of Royal’s success derived from his awareness of football’s relative importance. One of his first acts upon becoming head coach was to hire the nation’s first academic counselor. He also funded a program to present each of his players with a “T ring” once they earned their degree.

“The tail should not wag the dog,” Royal is quoted as saying at “But as long as football is in its proper place on the campus, then it’s good. I want to be remembered as a winning coach, but I also want to be remembered as an honest and ethical coach.”

Royal loved to coach. As quoted at, he said, “Coaching is largely a matter of dealing with people, and it’s a new world every day. I never feel like I’m going to work when I get up in the morning. It’s a wonderful profession when you can earn a living and not feel like you’re working to do it.

“The only thing that disturbs me about my profession is the fact that people give you too much credit when you win, and too much hell when you lose. I’ll be the same person, and do the same things, when we lose, but people won’t believe me. I won’t change, but people will.”

The loquacious Royal was always a font of good quotes. Here’s a random sampling from
“We’re just as average as everyday wash.

“They cut us up like boarding house pie. And that’s real small pieces.

“He’s smoother than smoke through a keyhole.

“He runs faster than small town gossip.

“Just as happy as a gopher in soft dirt.”

On Earl Campbell: “I don’t know if Earl’s in a class by himself, but it sure don’t take long to call roll.”

On seeing a church sign before the ‘69 Arkansas game that read “Cast not thy steers before swine”: “I had hoped God would be neutral.”

Royal retired as coach after the 1976 season, his only non-winning (5-5-1) campaign. “I wanted to go out before people wanted me to,” he’s quoted as saying on

He remained athletics director, a job he had held since 1962, until 1980, when he became a special assistant to the President of the university.

He remains a part-time consultant.

Great to see they’re still dancin’ with the one that brung ‘em.