UT honors Royal at stadium bearing his name

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by Ashley Goudeau / KVUE News

khou.com

Posted on November 11, 2012 at 1:19 PM

Updated Monday, Nov 12 at 7:47 AM

The eyes of Texas were upon the Longhorn football team Satuday morning as they took on Iowa State.

And the hearts of the fans were with Darrell K Royal.

The legendary University of Texas football coach died Wednesday.

He suffered from altheizmer's disease.

"He just meant so much to the program here. And like I said, he'll be missed and the players, I'm sure, have a lot of respect for him. And everybody does. He was such a great man," UT fan Jesse Martinez, said.

"We used to play chess every Sunday night together in my home," Frank Denius, a longtime friend, said.

Other attendees were UT students while he was coaching.

"He had strict standards and he expected us all to acheive and that was an inspiration to all students, not just athletes," UT alumnae Annette Currah, said.

Regardless of your relation to Royal, you could feel the love for him all over the stadium which bears his name.

From the flags flying at half staff, to his initials painted on the field and player's helmets, to a video shown in his honor.

Followed by a moment of silence.

For the Longhorns' first offensive play, they lined up in the formation that Royal pionerred: the wishbone.

It lead to a crowd pleasing first down.

"It brought back a lot of memories. Because it was a great formation and the other team defenses had a hard time defensing it," said Denuis.

At halftime, UT alum and professional baseball player Roger Clemens was among the crowd that watched the Longhorn Band replicate a performance from 1976, spelling out "ROYAL" the same way the band did for DKR's last game 36 years ago.

A wreath was placed at the feet of a Royal statue inside the stadium where dozens of fans lined up to take photographs and flashed the "Hook'em Horns" hand signal. Royal's widow Edith attended the game.

Under Royal, Texas won 11 Southwest Conference titles, 10 Cotton Bowl championships and national championships in 1963 and 1969, going 11-0 each time. The Longhorns also won a share of the 1970 national title, earning him a national stature that rivaled that of Alabama's Paul "Bear" Bryant and Ohio State's Woody Hayes. Royal was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1983.

A public memorial ceremony is scheduled for noon Tuesday at the Frank Erwin Center basketball arena. Royal will be buried at the Texas State Cemetery in Austin, an honor typically reserved for the state's military and political leaders.

University officials illuminated the iconic UT Tower with burnt orange floodlights in Royal's honor on Wednesday night.
 

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