Texas coach Mack Brown, who was always close with the Longhorns' winningest coach, talked about his relationship with Royal.
"Today is a very sad day," Brown said. "I lost a wonderful friend, a mentor, a confidant and my hero. College football lost maybe its best ever and the world lost a great man. I can hardly put in words how much Coach Royal means to me and all that he has done for me and my family. I wouldn't even be at Texas without Coach. His council and friendship meant a lot to me before I came to Texas, but it's been my guiding light for my 15 years here.
"Coach gave so much more to the State of Texas and college football than he took away," Brown said. "He forgot more football than most of us will ever know, including me. His impact on the game, the coaches and players, the community and the millions of lives he touched, is insurmountable. He will be missed in so many ways.
"I lost my Dad when I was 54, and Coach filled a real void in my life and treated me like family," Brown continued. "Sally and I gained a lot coming to Texas and being a part of this tremendous program but no more than our relationship with Coach and Edith. They were our closest of friends. Our heart pours out to Edith and the family and our thoughts and prayers are with her and the family. We will always be there to lend any and all support that we can as she and Coach always did for us."
But the Longhorns weren't the only ones grieving Wednesday. Texas's Red River foes also had a connection to Royal, one of the best all-round players in Oklahoma football history.
“The University of Oklahoma joins the rest of the nation in celebrating the life’s work of Darrell Royal,” said OU vice president for intercollegiate athletics and director of athletics, Joe Castiglione. “We’ve truly lost an icon — a champion, an innovator and an educator. As an All-America player at the University of Oklahoma, he represented his home state with a unique versatility that we still celebrate today. Without question, he left an even more indelible mark on collegiate athletics during his distinguished coaching and administrative tenure at the University of Texas, where he made on immeasurable impact on the University and the countless individuals he touched.”
Royal was an All-American during the 1949 season, passing for 509 yards and rushing for 189. Against Oklahoma A&M in 1948, Royal booted an 81-yard punt, and he finished his career as the Oklahoma all-time interception leader with 17 picks.
“Coach Royal will always have a special place in the hearts of Sooners’ fans as an unbelievably talented player,” said Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops. “From a coaching perspective, I have great admiration for his many accomplishments, his great players and his championship teams, and especially appreciate the fact that he never suffered a losing season in 23 seasons as a head coach.”