Nov. 7, 2012
Opening statement: It’ a tough day. Started our morning with the call from [Darrel Royal’s wife] Edith Royal at 5:45 a.m. to let us know that Coach Royal had passed away during the night. It’s a sad day for all of us. He built the foundation that we’re working off of today. He did it in every way. He did it with the football program. He did it as [Athletics Director]. He absolutely got us started in the right direction at the University of Texas. He took a program that was struggling, and took it to new heights. And he gave us the confidence. Helped build the university. Helped brand the university. So this is a tough time for all of us.
He was very close to his players. Was probably closer after they finished playing than they were while they were playing. He had a lot of great relationships with the alumni. Built some longtime relationships. It truthfully helped us build the stadium the way you see it today. He helped us financially. Anyway you cut it - anything we do around here, anything you look at around here, Coach Royal has his fingerprints on it.
On a personal side, when I came to Texas in ’81, he was one of the first people to meet me. He was a friend. He was a mentor. He helped me navigate the University of Texas, as only he could do. That served the university in a good way. So he’s a special friend to a lot of us, to most of us, to all of us. We loved him. We love his family. Edith is the best of the best. We care very much about them, and we are going to do some things to honor him on Tuesday. We’ll have a memorial around noon at the [Frank] Erwin Center. We’re going to light the tower tonight, all orange, in his memory. The football team is going to wear decals on the side of their helmet that will have a “DKR” on it. And it’s appropriate, in my mind, that for Veteran’s Day we will also celebrate his life Saturday at the football game. And I think [head coach] Mack Brown has said this, but our first play from scrimmage on Saturday will be out of the wishbone.
On if there will be a private ceremony: There will be a private burial and the family asked that I not announce where or when.
On if the service at the Frank Erwin Center is public: The service will be at noon on Tuesday, and it will be public. The program is being planned -Nick Voinis is handling that and is working with Coach Royal’s family.
On some things Royal is credited for over the years besides his wins and losses: He did hire the first academic coach, it is what he called them, Lan Hewitt. I think today, we must have, I’m going to guess, 15 [academic counselors]. He did start the T-Ring and the biggest day in my life was when Coach Royal presented this to me. It represents student athletes who graduated and who lettered at Texas in football. Whatever you see around here he was a part of. He was a great friend to Coach Brown, he has been a great friend to me, a great friend to the staff and - what can you say, he is Texas.
On Royal’s contribution to the T-Rings: He paid for the early ones. And we don’t want to let the NCAA in on that [laughs].
On if Royal was part of how he got the AD job: He was not part of the process when I was hired, he was very much part of the process after I got here. He was very much a friend, he taught me the ropes, introduced me to people, and was very helpful.
On how Royal was instrumental in hiring Coach Mack Brown: The good story on Mack was that we had a committee of a number of people, I think it was 14 or 15, and Coach Royal was on the committee. We had the meeting in Atlanta and we had Mack there. I met with Mack and Sally before they met with the committee. They met with the committee and then I met with them afterwards, and I thought I had a pretty good commitment that he would come to Texas. He said he needed to go back first to North Carolina to talk to his team, which was absolutely the appropriate thing to do. As we tried to get him to fly back to Austin with us, he would not do that. When we got on the bus with the committee to come back to Austin, Mack and Sally were standing on the sidewalk and I told Coach Royal to go back out there and get a commitment. We need a commitment. He went back out and I don’t know the conversation, I know they hugged and Coach Royal got back on the bus. So I think Coach Royal made a huge difference of Mack and Sally being in Austin.
On what he learned about Coach Royal when working near each other: Great sense of humor. Great sense of humor. I played golf with him and he had some great lines, especially about my golf game. I hit one way out of bounds and I think his comment was, “Lassie couldn’t find that even if it had bacon wrapped around it.” We rode the bus to the National Football Hall of Fame in New York - that was absolutely one story after another. I hope somebody has captured all those things for a book someday.
On one piece of advice from Coach Royal that stuck out to him: I think he was the first one that told me, “Tough times don’t last. Tough people do.” He just never changed, was always there, could call him anytime. Miss Edith, what a wonderful first lady, what a wonderful wife she was to him, and what a wonderful lady she was for the University of Texas and the football program and absolutely still is. She, by the way, I was just talking to her and if anybody wants to donate they’ve got a couple of places; one would be the Texas Exes Forty Acres scholarship - that in Darrell’s name and one is the Alzheimer’s. We can get that information, if you want that for print or something.
On Coach Royal as an athletic director: He absolutely did not like being an AD. He liked being with kids, he liked coaching and he liked recruiting. Well, I can’t say he liked recruiting, but he liked that part of it. He loved his friends and his coaching buddies. He loved that and he loved playing golf with them, but being an AD was a bit restrictive.
On if he ever beat Coach Royal in golf: I don’t think so. I had him down once at the Austin Country Club and he chipped in on [hole] 18. That’s the way he was.
On other things they are doing to honor him: We are going through the process. We met most of the morning on things that we are talking about doing and things we will do in the next two or three days. We have the Hall of Honor. We are honoring the [Texas booster Walter] Fondren’s and putting their name on our seventh floor of the stadium where our offices are today. Walt Fondren was in one of Darrell’s first classes, so we are going through every possible way that we can figure out how we will honor him and what we will do during the next four or five days.
On Coach Royal not getting his due nationally because of how early he retired: Obviously, he was a great coach. What he was able to do here was unbelievable and unparallel by maybe one or two other people. I think he has been honored in ways that other coaches haven’t been honored. I think having his name on the stadium and he’s in the Football Hall of Fame. I think he would feel honored with his friendships. His friendship with [former Arkansas head coach] Frank Broyles was huge and those kinds of things probably meant more to him than any other honor that he could get.
On Coach Royal being a part of the coin toss earlier this season: I think the coin toss was between him and Mack Brown. I watched that and knew that was probably the last time he would be in DKR- Texas Memorial Stadium
On his first conversation with Mack after finding out about Coach Royal’s passing: I called Mack right after that. I did not get him and me and Mack have not had a conversation about it, but we have texted back and forth. We tried to notify a lot of people this morning around 6 a.m.
On how surprised he was that the end was this close: I was surprised. He has been struggling lately, but I was surprised.