Coaching Greatness

In 1956, the Texas Longhorn football team recorded one win and nine losses, its worst ever season. That December, Darrell Royal took over as head coach and established a culture of winning and class, the new standard at Texas football. In his nineteen years as head coach, Royal led the Longhorns to 167 wins, 11 Southwest Conference Titles, and 3 National Championships. Such accolades would make any coach a hall of famer — in the state of Texas, it made Coach Royal a saint. His personality and character were as big and bold as our great state. He is immortalized by his own “Royalisms,” colloquial and often gruff sayings which he used to inspire his teams or amuse reporters. In 1996, the university renamed this stadium after him. Making it very easy to understand why, while interviewing for the position in 1998, Mack Brown turned to Coach Royal and asked, “If I come, will you help me?” Saint Darrell replied, “Sure.” And help he did. As a close friend and ally, he would see Mack Brown become the only other Longhorn football coach to win over 100 games and, in the 2005 season, bring the National Championship Trophy back home to the forty acres. Coach Brown quickly became famous for his ability to recruit talent to Austin from across the state and the nation. Both Brown and Royal, coached generational athletes, most famously their Heisman-winning running backs, Earl Campbell, the rose of Tyler, and Ricky Williams, who broke the NCAA rushing record. The legacy of these coaching legends is still prevalent as evidenced by current head coach Tom Herman, who began his career as a graduate assistant under Coach Brown. This exhibit is the first in a series which will honor the history of great coaches in Texas Athletics. Using materials from The Stark Center collection, we offer a glimpse past the trophies and into the lives and work of the people who coached excellence and mentored character, those who saw the potential in teams and athletes when no one else could, those who made legends and nurtured legacies, and, finally, those who toiled all the livelong day to lead Texas student athletes one step closer to greatness.