The Norman Transcript

Archive

November 7, 2012

Former University of Texas coach Darrell Royal dies at age 88

(Continued)

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) —

Royal and assistant Emory Ballard changed the football landscape in 1968 with the development of the wishbone, which features a fullback lined up two yards behind the quarterback and a step in front of two other backs.

The innovation nearly flopped. After a tie and loss in the first two games that season, a frustrated Royal inserted backup Street to take over.

“Coach Royal grabbed me and he looked for a minute as if he were having second thoughts about putting me in. Then he looked me straight in the eye and said, ‘Hell, you can’t do any worse. Get in there,”’ Street said

Texas won its next 30 games. Soon, rival Oklahoma and other schools started using the wishbone as well.

“The University of Oklahoma joins the rest of the nation in celebrating the life’s work of Darrell Royal,” said Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione. “We’ve truly lost an icon - a champion, an innovator and an educator.”

The national title season in 1969 included what was dubbed the “Game of the Century,” a come-from-behind, 15-14 victory by the top-ranked Longhorns over No. 2 Arkansas to cap the regular season.

In Texas lore, it ranks as the greatest game ever played. President Nixon, an avid football fan, flew in by helicopter to watch. Afterward, Nixon greeted Royal with a plaque in the Texas locker room proclaiming Texas the national champion.

The Longhorns also were named national champions by United Press International in 1970, a year in which Texas lost its final game to Notre Dame in the Cotton Bowl and finished 10-1.

Royal faced criticism over the lack of black players on his first 13 Texas teams, although he had coached black players at Washington and in the Canadian football league.

At the 1960 Cotton Bowl, Syracuse accused Texas of hurling racial barbs at Syracuse’s black players, which Royal denied. Texas became the first SWC school to announce it would fully integrate the athletic program in 1963, but the football team didn’t have a black letterman until Julius Whittier in 1970.

Text Only | Photo Reprints