FAYETTEVILLE — The college football world received some sad news Wednesday.
Former Texas coach Darrell Royal has died.
The jolt was felt in Arkansas. Even though Arkansas and Texas were bitter rivals back in the Southwest Conference days, Royal and former Arkansas coach and athletic director Frank Broyles were close friends. Their careers practically mirrored each other at their schools, too. Royal arrived at Texas in 1957. Broyles started his tenure at Arkansas a year later. Both coaches announced their retirement after facing each other in the 1976 season finale, a 29-12 Texas win.
Broyles was not in town when news of Royal's death spread Wednesday. But he did issue a statement through Arkansas associate athletic director Kevin Trainor.
“I am deeply saddened by the passing of my longtime friend Darrell Royal. Although our teams were rivals on the field, Darrell and I enjoyed a close friendship that carried far beyond football. Our families vacationed together in the off-season and we enjoyed many memorable moments together that I always treasure.
“Darrell was one of the greatest football coaches our sport has known. His record and many accomplishments speak for themselves, but his influence on college football, the University of Texas and the impact he had in the lives of thousands of young men who played for him is impossible to fully measure.
“In the final years of his life, Darrell faced his battle with Alzheimer’s with the same courage and dignity he displayed throughout his career. My thoughts and prayers go out to his wife Edith, his family and the many friends and colleagues who have been a part of the extraordinary life and career of Darrell Royal.”
For more on Royal's death, here is a story from The Associated Press from earlier today.
— Robbie Neiswanger • Arkansas News Bureau