OU All-American, Texas head coach Darrell Royal passes away at age 88
After living with Alzheimer’s disease late in his life, former Oklahoma football All-American Darrell Royal passed away at the age of 88 Wednesday.
As a senior in 1949, Royal led Oklahoma in passing with 509 yards while rushing for 189 yards. Royal also was known for his defensive capabilities and is still the program’s all-time interceptions leader with 17 picks.
Although Royal still is considered one of OU’s best all-around football players (he played quarterback, defensive back, punter and kick returner), the Hollis, Okla., native is best known for introducing the effective wishbone offensive formation that helped his team win three national championships while he was the head coach for the Texas Longhorns from 1957-76.
“Coach Royal will always have a special place in the hearts of Sooners’ fans as an unbelievably talented player,” coach Bob Stoops said. “From a coaching perspective, I have great admiration for his many accomplishments, his great players and his championship teams, and especially appreciate the fact that he never suffered a losing season in 23 seasons as a head coach.”
Coaches have argued over the exact lineage of the wishbone — an offensive scheme that positions a fullback directly behind the quarterback in between two other backs — but most historians point to the Emory Bellard’s hiring by Royal in 1967 that eventually opened the door for the wishbone offenses of the 1970s.
Specifically designed as a running play with a triple option, the wishbone offense provided the Longhorns’ coach with a offense that didn’t always utilize a passing quarterback, something of which Royal wasn’t a proponent during his coaching career.
One of Royal’s famous quotes also revealed his distaste for passing offenses.
“Three things can happen when you pass, and two of ‘em are bad,” Royal said.