Oklahoma football: A special night with Darrell Royal
Darrell Royal died Tuesday. A Texas football icon. And an Oklahoma football icon. Before he became the greatest coach in Texas history, Royal was an OU star under Bud Wilkinson. And before Royal was a Sooner, he was a Hollis Tiger.
Nine years ago, on Nov. 7, 2003, I drove to Hollis to do a story on Royal’s alma mater dedicating its football field to Royal. I ran into Royal and his wife, Edith, at J.C.’s Grille in Hollis a couple of hours before the Hollis football game, and we had a great chat. It’s the last time I ever talked to him. In recent years, he developed Alzheimer’s.
Football field named for former Texas coach
By Berry Tramel, Staff Writer
HOLLIS — Darrell Royal stood in front of 22 football players. Few probably even knew his name until the recent fuss hit town. But Royal, a 79-year-old gridiron legend, spoke their language.
“I’m really proud to say that I’m an ex-Hollis Tiger,” Royal said.
Royal is proud of Hollis? Hollis is proud of Royal.
This Harmon County seat, tucked into Oklahoma’s southwest corner less than six miles from Texas in two directions, honored its favorite son Friday night. Hollis’ football turf was rechristened Darrell K Royal Field.
Hollis joins the University of Texas in placing Royal’s name on football real estate. Darrell K Royal-Memorial Stadium houses the Longhorns, who were coached to great glory by a certain Okie from 1957-76.
Royal says the Hollis honor is just as grand as the one in Austin.
“I’d rank it high,” Royal said. “When you look back, how important a person’s youth is, how he grows up, what his teachers are, what his coaches are, you have your basic roots. So I’ve always been thankful for that.”
Royal shows his fondness with a recital of Hollis educators who more than 60 years ago impacted his life.
Miss Sallie Gillentine, his first-grade teacher, and her sister, Miss Mary Gillentine, his senior English teacher.
Dr. Will Husband, who on July 6, 1924, delivered young Darrell Royal and for whom the Hollis football stadium is named. Royal wanted no part of the ceremony Friday night if it meant Will Husband’s name came off the stadium.
Royal also talked of his high-school coaches: Joe Bailey Metcalf, Dean Wild, Dick Highfill.
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