Darrell Royal dies at 88; noted University of Texas football coach

"I had black players in Canada, I had black players at the University of Washington," Royal told The Times in 2005. "You know, it has never made one bit of difference to me what somebody's color is. You want the best players you can get. Once you recruit and get them, they're yours, and you just play the best."

In 1969, Royal was involved in the so-called Game of the Century against Arkansas, coached by his friend Frank Broyles.

To increase ratings, ABC publicist Beano Cook persuaded both schools to move the game from October to December. Cook, who died last month at 81, was correct on his bet that both teams might be undefeated.

With President Nixon in attendance, Texas rallied to defeat Arkansas, 15-14. After the game, Nixon declared Texas the national champions.

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Royal had a stellar record against some of the game's best coaches: He was 6-1 against Wilkinson, 3-0-1 against Bryant and 14-5 against Broyles.

Royal did, in the 1970s, meet a nemesis in Barry Switzer, going 0-3-1 against the Oklahoma coach.

"Darrell Royal was one of ours," Switzer tweeted Wednesday. "An All American at Oklahoma & great competitor. He cast a long shadow & will be missed."

Royal retired in his prime, in 1976, at age 52, and never looked back.

"Climbing is fun; maintaining the high level was pressure," Royal said in 2005. "It got so that I wasn't elated when I won a game, I was just relieved. And if we were defeated, it just took me forever to get over it."

Royal's spirit was also dimmed by the 1973 death of his daughter, Marian, in an auto accident.

Royal's son David died in a 1982 motorcycle accident. Royal shied away from Texas football for years but struck a special kinship with Brown, who arrived in 1998.

"I lost my dad when I was 54," Brown said Wednesday. "And Coach filled a real void in my life and he treated me like family."

Royal is survived by Edith, his wife of 68 years, and a son, Mack.