It would be fairly easy to look at Darrell K Royal within the frame of his football career. He was a star on the field for Bud Wilkinson and Oklahoma. He was an innovator as a coach and won three national titles at Texas. He has a special place in the lore of the Red River Rivalry, having been on both sides, and he helped bring Mack Brown to Texas.
For all of his wins, the stories that abound from his former players and coaching cohorts are beyond measure. Toward the end of Royal's tenure as head coach, Earl Campbell came to Texas in the racially charged turbulence of the 1970s and has since dealt with post-football health issues, but through it all, he had his relationship with Royal.
“He and Mrs. Royal cared about me as a man, “ Campbell said.
A coach’s first role is to teach. Royal taught the “Royalisms” he lived by: “If you feel like celebrating, wait until the other 10 get there and celebrate together. You didn’t do it by yourself,” he also made us laugh with, “If worms carried pistols, birds wouldn’t eat ’em.”
Royal is among the best to ever coach the game but is also at the top of the list for doing what every coach must do and that is raise good men.
And Royal gave of himself and of his time.
I was a founder and organizer of a golf tournament that donated funds to Texas’ Cole Pittman Fund, named after a former player that died in a car accident. Royal didn’t hesitate. My group explained our tournament and our intent and he barely let us finish the conversation before wondering what he could do to help. He took time out of his day, let us come pick him up and spent the whole afternoon with former players and fans because his heart is as big as the state he came to love.
Talk about a life well lived. The proof is in the lives he touched.