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Former Texas coach Darrell Royal dies at 88

AUSTIN, Texas -- A son of Depression-era Oklahoma, Darrell Royal came to Texas in 1957 to take over a sleeping giant of a football program. Over 20 years, his folksy approach to sports and life and his inventive wishbone offense made him an icon.

Royal, who turned the Longhorns into a national power, died early yesterday at 88 of complications from cardiovascular disease, a school spokesman said. Royal also suffered from Alzheimer's disease.

Royal didn't have a losing season in 23 years as a head coach at Texas, Mississippi State and Washington. His Texas teams had a 167-47-5 record from 1957-1976, best in the nation in that period.

"It was fun," Royal told The Associated Press in 2007. "All the days I was coaching at Texas, I knew this would be my last coaching job. I knew it when I got here."

Under Royal, Texas won 11 Southwest Conference titles, 10 Cotton Bowls and national championships in 1963 and 1969. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1983.

In Texas lore, the No. 1 Longhorns' 15-14 win over No. 2 Arkansas on Dec. 6, 1969, ranks as the greatest game ever played. President Richard Nixon gave Royal a plaque in the locker room proclaiming Texas the national champion.

He had a self-deprecating style and a knack for pithy quotes -- "Royalisms." "Football doesn't build character, it eliminates the weak ones," was one of Royal's famous lines.

Royal is survived by his wife, Edith, and a son, Mack. The couple had two other children, Marian, who died in 1973, and David, who died in 1982.

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