Darrell Royal, who coached the University of Texas Longhorns to three national titles “and became the biggest college football icon in a state that worships the sport, has died at age 88,” Austin’s American-Statesman reports.
“The most successful, most beloved coach in Texas Longhorns history,” ESPN adds, “succumbed early Wednesday after a debilitating fight with Alzheimer’s disease.”
According to the College Football Hall of Fame, “Royal is credited with two innovations that set Texas out in front of the rest of the nation in offensive strategy: his ‘Flip-Flop Winged-T’ in 1962 and the Wishbone in 1968.” Under Royal, the Longhorns won national championships in 1963, 1969 and 1970.
But to the team’s fans, ESPN says, “Royal stood for more than winning. Royal represented integrity, respect and a romanticized past.”
The coach was also famous, the American-Statesman says, for his:
“Royalisms — a lifetime of sayings that are still quoted today. He is credited with the oft-repeated line, ‘Dance with one who brung ya’ to describe a reluctance to change football strategy in mid-game or midseason. He’d say a fast running back was ‘quicker than a hiccup.’ Royal oft said luck was a result of ‘when preparation meets opportunity.’ Before his final season, which ended with a 5-5-1 record, he fretted that his team looked ‘as average as everyday wash.’ “
In 23 years of coaching at three schools (Mississippi State and Washington before he went to Texas in 1957), Royal had a 184-60-5 record. He retired from coaching after the 1976 season, and was the athletic director at Texas until 1980.
The Longhorns play their home games in Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium, which holds 100,119 fans.