Darrell K. Royal

Darrell K Royal, who coached the Longhorns to three national titles and became the biggest college football icon in a state that worships the sport, has died at age 88.

On the field, Royal was known for his play-calling genius, taking the biggest of risks in the biggest of games and coming out a winner more often than not. Off the field, he rose from humble beginnings during the depths of the Depression to become a homespun populist rivaling Will Rogers.

Royal was the winningest coach in University of Texas history, compiling a 167-47-5 record in 20 seasons from 1957 to 1976, and his name has been synonymous with Longhorn football for a half-century. Today, the Longhorns' 100,000-seat stadium bears his name.

In recent years, the legendary coach has battled Alzheimer's disease, but he did make one last appearance at a Longhorns football game this season, participating in the ceremonial coin toss before the Longhorns' win over Wyoming.

He is survived by his wife, Edith, and a son, Mack. Two of his children, Marian and David, preceded him in death.

Published in Austin American-Statesman on Nov. 8, 2012