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Ex-Univ. of Texas football coach Royal dies in Austin, age 88

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Former Texas coach Darrell Royal

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AUSTIN, Texas — Darrell Royal, the former Texas football coach known as much for his folksy, simplistic approach to life as for his creative wishbone offenses and two national championships, has died. He was 88.

University of Texas spokesman Nick Voinis today confirmed Royal's death. Royal had suffered from Alzheimer's disease and recently fell at an assisted living center where he was receiving care.

Royal, who also starred as a defensive back and quarterback for the Oklahoma Sooners, didn't have a single losing season in his 23 years as a head coach at Texas, Mississippi State and Washington. During his 20 years at Texas (1957-1976), his teams boasted a 167-47-5 record — the best mark in the nation during that period. One season ended with an even record.

"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."

Royal was just 32 when Texas hired him. The Longhorns hadn't had a winning season since 1953, and Royal immediately turned the program around. 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.

The son of a cotton farmer, Royal credited hard work and luck for his success. He had a knack for delivering pithy quotes about his team and opponents.

"Football doesn't build character, it eliminates the weak ones," was one of Royal's famous lines.

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