Oklahoma football: More on Darrell Royal
Darrell Royal died Tuesday night. I wrote about Royal for the Thursday Oklahoman. You can read that here. But I’ve heard from a bunch of people about the Texas icon and the Sooner legend. I thought I would share some of their memories.
JAY O’NEAL, Crested Butte, Colo.
O’Neal was a backup quarterback on the great OU teams of the mid-’50s. He then coached for Wilkinson and Gomer Jones.
“We left OU after the ’65 season, moved down to Austin ’66. Darrell and his wife, Edith, were so nice to us, absolutely unbelievable. Introduced us to a lot of people.
“In the summer time, Darrell took his staff to Fort Clark, Texas, which they had turned into a resort. He invited us to go with him. We weren’t coaching.
“I’ve never known a nicer guy than Darrell. I’d been coaching against him the last five years. He knew we were there. He wanted to make us feel welcome.
“They went out to play Southern Cal, he invited us to fly on the plane with ‘em. Never a nicer guy.
“Of course, he loved golf. I played with him one day when he was 73. He shot 71.
“He really had no animosity at all. He was a football coach and was going to coach his way.
“I suspect he had a tremendous impact on that whole country music scene. In ’66, Willie Nelson had just moved from Nashville.
“Willie didn’t have any money there at all. Darrell called and said they were meeting at the Broken Spoke, everybody put in $25, to hear Willie. There’s Willie, sportcoat, really thin tie, no beard, no long hair. From then on, he became the scene in Austin.
“I’m a real advocate of Darrell Royal.”
JAY WILKINSON, Oklahoma City
Bud Wilkinson’s son visited the Royals in March. Alzheimer’s had robbed Royal of virtually all of his short-term memory. But Royal still could talk about the old days.
“We visited about 45 minutes,” Wilkinson said. “Always amazing. When he talked about the 1950s, his eyes lit up. I complimented him on being such a great punter. Dad always said he was his greatest punter. Edith raised her left foot out when we discussed kicking. ‘Edith,’ Darrell said, ‘You kick with your right foot.’
“I talked to her after the Notre Dame game (two weeks ago). Somehow just wanted to reach out to her. Glad I did. He was a hell of a man. He and dad maintained a great relationship.”
KENT METCALF, Hollis
“Thanks for the kind words about Hollis on WWLS last evening. You described it perfectly. I thought you might like to know that Hollis plays Okeene Friday night in the playoffs at home. The team/town plans on honoring Mr. Royal by painting DKR on the field and by placing his No. 11 on their helmets.”
JAKIE SANDIFER, Norman & Houston
Sandifer, an OU halfback in the 1950s and a long-time oil man and OU booster, said Royal always remained devoted to Bud Wilkinson players, even those who weren’t Royal’s teammates.
Sandifer, a long-time friend of Barry Switzer, said that even during the Switzer/Royal feud of the 1970s, Royal remained cordial and even at times let his guard down.
Once, during one of Royal’s famous country music socials in Austin, Sandifer brought along Switzer and country-music producer Harold Shedd. Sandifer introduced Shedd to the crowd as “the Bear Bryant of country music.” Responded Royal, “Bear Bryant? How do you think that makes me and Barry feel?”
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