UT honors Darrell K Royal at stadium bearing his name




Posted on November 10, 2012 at 11:21 PM

Updated Thursday, Oct 31 at 5:06 PM

AUSTIN — The eyes of Texas were upon the Longhorn football team Satuday morning as they took on Iowa State.

And the hearts of the fans were with Darrell K Royal, the legendary University of Texas football coach who died on Wednesday. He suffered from Alzheizmer's disease.

"He just meant so much to the program here," said UT fan Jesse Martinez. "He'll be missed, and the players, I'm sure, have a lot of respect for him. And everybody does. He was such a great man."

"We used to play chess every Sunday night together in my home," said longtime friend Frank Denius.

Other attendees were UT students while he was coaching.

"He had strict standards and he expected us all to acheive, and that was an inspiration to all students — not just athletes," said alumnae Annette Currah.

Regardless of your relation to Coach Royal, you could feel the love for him all over the stadium which bears his name on Saturday.

From the flags flying at half staff, to his initials painted on the field and player's helmets, to a video shown in his honor, followed by a moment of silence.

For the Longhorns' first offensive play, they lined up in the formation that Royal pionerred: The wishbone. It led to a crowd-pleasing first down.

"It brought back a lot of memories. Because it was a great formation, and the other team defenses had a hard time defensing it," Denuis said.

At halftime, UT alum and professional baseball player Roger Clemens was among the crowd who watched the Longhorn Band replicate a performance from 1976, spelling out "ROYAL" the same way the band did for DKR's last game 36 years ago.

A wreath was placed at the feet of a Royal statue inside the stadium, where dozens of fans lined up to take photographs flashing the "Hook'em Horns" hand signal.

Royal's widow Edith attended the game.

Under Darrell Royal, Texas won 11 Southwest Conference titles, 10 Cotton Bowl championships and national championships in 1963 and 1969, going 11-0 each time.

The Longhorns also won a share of the 1970 national title, earning Royal a national stature that rivaled that of Alabama's Paul "Bear" Bryant and Ohio State's Woody Hayes.

Royal was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1983.

A public memorial ceremony is scheduled for noon Tuesday at the Frank Erwin Center basketball arena. Royal will be buried at the Texas State Cemetery in Austin, an honor typically reserved for the state's military and political leaders.

University officials illuminated the iconic UT Tower with burnt orange floodlights in Royal's honor on Wednesday night.