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Darrell Royal coached the Texas Longhorns, but he was still 'one of us'

The former OU quarterback never forgot his roots in the Sooner state. Royal was proud of his heritage, back to the days as a Hollis High School star.
by Berry Tramel Published: November 7, 2012
/articleid/3726499/1/pictures/1878546">Photo - Former Texas head football coach Darrell Royal. (AP Photo/Harry Cabluck)
Former Texas head football coach Darrell Royal. (AP Photo/Harry Cabluck)

“Darrell allowed that to happen,” Switzer said. “He was that kind of guy.”

The next year, the OU wishbone ran wild on Texas, 48-27, and Royal's coaching career began a slow decline that led to his retirement in 1976, at age 52.

* Switzer has regrets. Regrets that he and Royal feuded, sometimes publicly, with Royal challenging Switzer to take a lie-detector test over recruiting violations (Switzer did, and passed), and Switzer stinging Royal with a quote that lives on to this day.

“Some coaches don't want to coach anymore. They would rather sit home and listen to guitar pickers. They want us to make it where you can't outwork anybody.”

Nobody wondered who Switzer was talking about.

“I've got a lot of regrets,” Switzer said. He says he wished he could have had a better relationship with Royal.

In Switzer's biography, he wrote that Royal “more than anyone else saw to it that I was branded a cheater … when they throw dirt on Darrell's box, he'll still believe it, I guess. It's a pity, because I respect Darrell Royal.”

After Royal retired, he and Switzer would occasionally see each other at functions.

“Every time I was around him, I tried to be gracious,” Switzer said. “We got along socially. He was always a gentleman. But without a doubt, those things caused such a chasm.”

* Royal was a great coach. A great coach.

Rebuilt a downtrodden Texas program. Won two outright national titles and placed in the AP top five nine times in 14 years, 1959-72.

The Longhorns eventually because of their delay in recruiting black athletes, a decision made above Royal's head.

“He really knew his stuff,” said Arnold, who quarterbacked the 1953 Edmonton Eskimos, a team coached by a 29-year-old Royal. “He dictated very well.”

The Longhorns made sure Royal never will be forgotten. His name adorns their stadium in Austin.

But the Oklahomans who knew him won't forget him, either.

“All I can say he was a great one,” Lisak said. “I always appreciated being around him.”

Lisak was from Kalamazoo, Mich. Came to OU after the war, played some football and returned home. Still lives in Kalamazoo. Still calls the Sooners “we” and still cheers on Bob Stoops' team.

And he's got a little memento from his days in Norman. In 1949, Lisak picked up Royal's warmup jacket off a pile, by accident. He didn't give it back. He's kept it all these years.

“He was still a true Okie and one of us,” Lisak said. “Nothing but great memories and he was a great person.”

Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at

by Berry Tramel
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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