Funeral arrangements were not immediately announced, but Royal will be buried at the Texas State Cemetery in Austin, an honor typically reserved for the state's military and political leaders.
On Saturday, the Longhorns will honor Royal at their home game against Iowa State by wearing "DKR" stickers on their helmets and by lining up in the wishbone formation, which Royal used to such great success, for their first offensive snap.
"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," current Texas coach Mack Brown said Wednesday. "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."
As a player at Oklahoma, Royal was a standout quarterback, defensive back and punter, and he credited hard work and luck for his success on the field and later as a coach. He had a self-deprecating style and a knack for delivering pithy quotes -- or "Royalisms" -- about his team and opponents.
"Football doesn't build character, it eliminates the weak ones," was one of Royal's famous lines.
"Luck is when preparation meets opportunity," was another.
You can't win or recruit without money, that's frats and businessmen; and in the south in the '60s those people were all racist, they kinda just were. Christ I think even LBJ put his daughter in that Scottish Rite dorm when it was still segregated.
"Namaste." - Christopher Columbus
If an adult rooster screwed a baby chick, it would be chicken stacciatore.
Dreams are for seven-year-olds and psychics, that's why they rarely come with a budget or a backup plan.
"Just so you know, your beloved father was into (cannibalism) and (incest)." - Mom, 11/17/13
We use the phrase "Texas legend" far too often. Too early in many cases.
Well, the phrase might not have been invented for Darrell Royal, but he was the embodiment of it.
A Texas legend, indeed.
"No doubt about that," former Houston football coach Bill Yeoman said after hearing the news Royal had died early Wednesday at the age of 88. "He was a credit to the University of Texas, a credit to the state and a credit to football.
"I appreciated getting to know him and always admired him for what he accomplished and the type of person he was. When you call somebody a legend, you know they've done great things. That's Darrell Royal all right."
Yeoman would know. He also is a Texas football legend.
Not many coaches can boast of a winning record against Royal, who in 23 years as a head coach never had a losing season. Yeoman was 1-0-1 against him, with the two games being among the most significant contests in Texas college football history.
With Yeoman's veer shredding defenses, scheduling had become increasingly difficult for the then-independent Cougars. After UH blasted Auburn 36-7 in the Bluebonnet Bowl at the end of the 1969 season, teams tripped all over themselves to get off the Cougars' schedule.
Yeoman remembers sitting in the office of his athletic director, the late Harry Fouke, discussing what they were going to do going forward when the secretary knocked on the door.
"She told Harry, 'Darrell Royal wants to talk to you.' He got on the phone, and as they talked, I could see Harry's face start to change," Yeoman said.
In that conversation, Royal asked Fouke if UH would be interested in joining the Southwest Conference.
UH had to wait five years before it was allowed to compete in the league, but Yeoman never forgot that phone call and Royal's personal invitation.
"I believe he's really the one that got us into the conference," Yeoman said. "I'll always be grateful to him for that. Of course, I think I helped him with a little something, too."
'It changed the game'
In these parts, perhaps only the question "Who shot J.R.?" has been talked about more than the origins of the innovative offense Royal unveiled in a game against the Cougars in 1968.
Emory Bellard, who died last year, devised the basic concept of taking the triple-option veer Yeoman had found so successful the Cougars led the country in offense from 1966-68 and tweaking it with a fullback and an unusual formation.
Yeoman likes to say that in prepping for UH, Royal's defensive assistants told him they couldn't figure out a way to stop the Cougars' veer.
"I think they said, 'We can't stop the damn play,' and he must have said, 'Well if we can't stop it, let's put it in,' " Yeoman said.
Texas and Houston tied 20-20, and the next week UT lost at Texas Tech as Bellard, UT's offensive coordinator, and Royal worked out the kinks. The Longhorns then reeled off 30 straight wins, and the wishbone took the college football world by storm.
You wonder why Texas, where football is religion and quarterbacks are the most worshipped big men on campus, rarely produced great NFL passing quarterbacks in the 1970s?
Almost every coach, from peewee to high school to college, copied the run-first (and second and third) offenses that helped make Royal and Yeoman famous.
Former Baylor coach Grant Teaff said one year he faced six teams that ran the wishbone.
"It changed the game completely," Texas State coach Dennis Franchione told the San Antonio Express-News.
An inspiring leader
The wishbone fit Texas. It fit Royal, a hard-nosed coach to whom fundamentals and precision were important. He was a teacher. He was tough.
There was deception in it, thanks to the options, but generally it was straightforward.
"They were coming at you, could be left, could be right ... but can you stop it?" Yeoman said.
Not many could. That is where all those W's come in, the three national championships, the 11 top-10 finishes, the 11 conference titles in 20 years at UT.
Those who knew Royal say the wins were only part of the story. He was respected and revered.
President Lyndon Johnson once wrote Royal, saying, "You are the finest example of an inspiring world leader I know."
If you were involved in football at that time, it is a good bet you wanted to be like Royal.
"Coach Royal was an inspiration to me and really for everybody in my generation," said Texans defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, who played for UH in the aforementioned 1968 game. "He was the coach to listen to. You wanted to be like him, not only for the success (he had) but for the way he was, the way he treated people."
"That is one thing that stood out about him: He was always a gentleman," he said. "He made a huge difference in Texas football. Just a great man, a great leader and a great football coach."
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Pretty cool little piece. RIP DKR.
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