By Keysha Hogan
When legendary coach Darrell K Royal passed away, media outlets and celebrities took time to out to recount his three National Championship wins, his Coach of the Year Awards and the stats that made him a fixture in the college sports world. But, numbers and trophies don’t tell the full story of the man who embraced innovation and revolutionized the way the game is played. To honor Coach Royal, let’s reflect on the colorful words of wisdom he shared with us over the years.
“Ol’ ugly is better than ol’ nothing.”
Coach Royal was conflicted, as most coaches are, when it comes to recruitment. There are talents that can’t be overlooked, but far more that are unrealized potential. Royal understood that acquiring some low ranked players could yield results later on instead of opting for nothing at all.
“There’s an old saying, ‘You dance with who brung ya.’”
In mid-October of 1965, the #1 ranked Longhorns fell to fifth place after losing to the Arizona Razorbacks. After starting the season 4-0, UT ended the season 6-4-0 and was out of the picture. Many were questioning the staying power of the coach and his players. Throughout everything Coach Royal stressed the importance of consistency throughout the season as his secret to success.
“God gives talent, size, speed. But a guy can control how hard he tries.”
This attitude is shared by great coaches and athletes around the world. Coach Royal wasn’t just interested in the build of the player; he wanted competitors that put energy and preparation into their performances. The historic results of Royal’s career were achieved by not allowing the status quo.
“It’s an in-the-trench battle. It’s meat on meat, flesh on flesh and stink on stink. And that’s the only way you can play it.”
Coach Royal understood the depth of football as a gladiator sport. He knew that his opponents prepared just as long and hard, and he respected them on the playing field. There was never the illusion of a politically correct college football league; he believed that victory and redemption would be decided in the harshest of battles.
“If worms carried pistols, birds wouldn’t eat ‘em”
This was a tough one to decipher, but I’m guessing he wanted everyone on his side to be prepared. Even the smallest, bottom-of-the-barrel player was expected to do his homework and be armed to help the team during game time.
“I want to be remembered as a winning coach, but I also want to be remembered as an honest and ethical coach.”
Even as a brilliant motivator and strategist, Coach Royal still kept working to correct anything he saw as a deficiency. In 2002 book, Horns, Hogs and Nixon Coming he spoke about his regrets for not integrating the Longhorns’ program sooner. He pushed forward among opposition in 1969 to admit Julius Whitter into the program and promote him as the first black varsity scholarship player.
On behalf of the staff of Blitz Weekly, we offer our condolences to the steadfast and faithful UT family.