NORMAN — Oklahoma officials expressed their condolences on the passing of former Sooner All-American and Texas coach Darrell Royal.
“The University of Oklahoma joins the rest of the nation in celebrating the life’s work of Darrell Royal,” OU athletic director Joe Castiglione said in a statement. “We’ve truly lost an icon — a champion, an innovator and an educator. As an All-America player at the University of Oklahoma, he represented his home state with a unique versatility that we still celebrate today. Without question, he left an even more indelible mark on collegiate athletics during his distinguished coaching and administrative tenure at the University of Texas, where he made an immeasurable impact on the University and the countless individuals he touched.”
OU coach Bob Stoops said he never met Royal, but was impressed with what he accomplished.
“I know what a great player he was here and then to read his coaching resume today was really amazing,” Stoops said after Wednesday’s practice. “He was a special coach for a long period of time. He was an innovator with the wishbone (offense), but also all the championships. His series of winning; it was remarkable to read it. We’re all proud of him here and sad that this day came.”
Royal was an All-American during the 1949 season. One of the greatest all-around players ever to compete for the Sooners, he led OU in passing during his senior year with 509 yards while rushing for 189 yards. During that season he completed 34-of-63 attempts with only one interception.
His punting ability was second to none, which he displayed when he booted one 81 yards against Oklahoma A&M in 1948. His ability on defense almost surpassed what he accomplished on offense. He is the all-time interception leader at OU with 17.
The all-conference selection also was an outstanding punt returner. During the 1948 season, he had returns of 73 and 95 yards for touchdowns. The latter is tied for the 12th-longest play in school history.
Sign language: Stoops said he hasn’t given the controversy about Texas’ Horns up hand sign for more than “ two seconds “ on Wednesday. However, he did weigh in on Longhorn coach Mack Brown’s belief that flashing the inverted Horns down was “disrespectful.”
“They don’t seem to have a problem with it when they’re doing well, and they put it in everyone else’s face,” Stoops said. “When they’re not doing so well and someone else does it; you get it the other way — so be it.”
Still be around: OU and Nebraska have reached a tentative agreement to play a home-and-home series, beginning in the 2021 season. That would be the 50th anniversary of the 1971 “Game of the Century” between the schools.
Stoops wouldn’t venture a guess on whether he’d still be the Sooners’ coach by then.
“There may be some other old boy handling that one, but, hopefully, I am,” he said. “We’ve always played tough non-conference games, so why not bring back a rival and have another go at it a couple times.”
Johnson and Williams are improving: Injured ankles kept left tackle Lane Johnson out of the Iowa State game and limited running back Damien Williams to three carries.
Stoops said both have shown improvement this week.
“They practiced more this week,” he said. “Lane feels a lot better. Damien: same thing; he’s been in more. You never know how it is with a running back; we’ll probably have to wait and see where that goes by Friday. It’ll probably be on Saturday when he’s warming up. We’ll see how he feels and how well he can really cut.”
John ShinnFollow me @firstname.lastname@example.org