Thursday, November 8, 2012

The passing of a legend

The University of Texas lost an icon yesterday with the death of coaching legend Darrell Royal. Coach Royal led the Longhorns out of the wastelands and into the promised land, winning two national titles, 11 conference titles and 10 Cotton Bowls during his tenure.

He and Emory Bellard (later the head coach at Texas A&M), developed the wishbone offense that took the option to a whole new level. In the wishbone the quarterback was joined in the backfield by a fullback and two tailbacks. The quarterback then had the option to hand it to the fullback, pitch it to a tailback or take the ball up the field himself.

Once Coach Royal was asked why his teams didn't pass the ball more. He told the reporter that when you pass the ball only three things can happen and two of them, interception and incompletion, were bad. But the play he is remembered most for is the long pass on fourth down in the "Game of the Century" in 1969 against Arkansas in which Texas rallied to win 15-14 and was awarded the national championship.

Coach Royal did not care for his players celebrating after scoring touchdowns. He felt you should act like you've been there before and plan on being back in the future. If you've ever seen video of Earl Campbell in college or in the NFL he never spiked the ball and he never carried on after scoring. He just tossed the ball to the referee after he crossed the goal line.

The phrase he's most well-known for was his reply when a reporter asked why he wouldn't change things up when the Longhorns were in the midst of a losing streak. Coach Royal's answer was that you've got to dance with the one who brung ya'.

For almost two decades Texas coaches were compared to Darrell Royal. After his retirement, the University hired former assistant Fred Akers to take over the program. No matter what Akers did during his time in Austin, it was never good enough. It was never good enough because Fred Akers wasn't Darrell Royal.

And neither were David McWilliams or John Mackovic. It wasn't until Mack Brown came along that the shadow of Darrell Royal receded.

Rest in peace, Coach, and hook 'em!

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