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Legends of the Hall - Darrell Royal

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With 119 chapters and over 12,000 members nationwide, The National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame, a non-profit educational organization, runs programs designed to use the power of amateur football in developing scholarship, citizenship and athletic achievement in today’s young people. National Football Foundation programs include the College Football Hall of Fame in South Bend, Ind., Play It Smart, the NFF Center for Youth Development Through Sport at Springfield College, the NFL/NFF Coaching Academy, and annual scholarships of nearly $1 million for college and high school scholar-athletes. Each month American Football Monthly will profile a member of the College Football Hall of Fame – our November coach is Darrell Royal.

1923: Born in Hollis, OK
1941: Enters the service after high school graduation
1946: Enrolls at University of Oklahoma
1948: Switched to quarterback (from halfback)
1954: Becomes Head Coach at Mississippi State
1956: Head Coach at the University of Washington
1957: Begins 20 year run as Head Coach at Texas
1962: Texas beats Ole Miss in the Cotton Bowl
1963: National Champions: Texas beats Navy in the Cotton Bowl
1969: Meets President Nixon after winning National Championship
1970: Texas beats Notre Dame 21-17 in Cotton Bowl
1977: Earl Campell wins Heisman one year after Royal retires
1983: Inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame
1996: Memorial Stadium renamed Darrell K. Royal Memorial Stadium

Many legendary men have been associated with the University of Texas football program, but for most fans, one man will always be ‘coach’ – Darrell K. Royal. One of the most successful coaches in college football, Royal led the Longhorns to three national championships and 12 Southwest Conference titles during his 20 years (1957-1976) as UT’s Head Coach.

Born in Hollis, Oklahoma in 1924, Royal served in World War II after graduating from high school. After the war he entered the University of Oklahoma and played his first two years as a starting halfback. He was converted to quarterback under Bud Wilkinson’s reign in 1948 and, on defense, set the career OU interception record with 17.

Royal immediately went into the coaching profession after graduation, becoming an assistant at North Carolina State. He became head coach of the Canadian Football League’s Edmonton Eskimos in 1953. The next two years he was head coach at Mississippi State and then spent an year at the University of Washington in 1956. Royal became the Longhorns’ head man the following autumn. In 20 seasons there, he won 167 games, lost 47, and tied 5. Under Royal, Texas won national championships in 1963, 1969 and 1970. His team was ranked first in the nation after the 1970 regular season but fell to third after losing 24-11 to Notre Dame in the Cotton Bowl. In his 23 years as a head coach, he never had a losing season.

One of the illustrious highlights of his career was the classic 1969 title game in which Royal’s Longhorns came from behind to defeat Arkansas, 15-14. The team received congratulations in the locker room from President Nixon who attended the game. Royal coached many outstanding players while at Texas, including Earl Campbell, who won the Heisman Trophy the year after Royal retired. Royal remained at Texas as Director of Athletics for two years. In 1980, he assumed the position of special assistant on athletic programs to the university president – a position he continues to hold today.

Today, Royal and his wife Edith dedicate much of their time, effort and finances to drug prevention programs. A recent recipient of the Horatio Alger Award for distinguished Americans, Royal was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1983.


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