The legacy of Darrell Royal
Darrell Royal was long gone from college football by the time I gained sports consciousness. The legendary coach retired in 1976, a dozen years before I was born. It wasn't long after I became a fan of college football, however, before my dad called me to the living room, sat me down and told me we were going to watch the 1969 Texas-Arkansas game and that I was going to learn everything there was to know about Texas' greatest football coach.
I immediately thought of that moment Wednesday morning when I learned of Royal's passing.
The tower, UT's campus landmark, was lit orange on Wednesday night to honor Royal. A full orange tower is usually limited to mark occasions when Texas wins a national championship, something Royal accomplished three times while at Texas. Royal's teams came achingly close to three more national titles. His 1961 team was ranked No. 1 before it suffered a 6-0 loss to TCU, one of the biggest upsets in Southwest Conference history.
"They're like a bunch of cockroaches," Royal said of TCU. "It's not what they eat and tote off, it's what they fall into and mess up that hurts."
A year later Texas was again the top ranked team in the country when a 14-14 tie with Rice knocked team from down to No. 5. After breaking through with the school's first national championship in 1963, Royal's bid for a repeat ended when the top-ranked Horns suffered 14-13 loss at the hands of Arkansas, the eventual national champions. After scoring with 1:27 left in the game to pull Texas within one, rather than opt for a tie, Texas went for two and failed.
Largely considered a conservative coach, Royal had a penchant for rolling the dice in the biggest of moments. Against that same Arkansas team five years later, Texas fought back from a 14-0 hole with two successful gambles - a successful two-point conversion after Texas' first touchdown, and facing a 4th-and-3 with under five minutes to play, Royal ordered quarterback James Street to roll left and fire a bomb that snuck between two defenders and into Randy Peschel's outstretched arms to set up the Longhorns' go ahead score in a 15-14 win.
Royal's teams slipped to mediocrity after the 1964 season, going 19-12 from 1965-67 before he and assistant coach Emory Bellard implemented the Wishbone offense. After a tie and a loss to open the 1968 season Texas would not lose again until January 1971, a streak of 30 consecutive wins that brought Royal his second and third national championships.
At the exepense of his own job security, Royal often shared the ins and outs of the Wishbone offense with many coaching staffs, including archrival Oklahoma. That move ultimately contributed to Royal's early retirement when Barry Switzer's Oklahoma gained control of the rivalry using the Wishbone.
Royal's persona stretched well beyond just the game of football. He had well-publicized friendships with Willie Nelson and President Lyndon B. Johnson. In a state that worshipped football, Royal was the Pope.
My grandfather, at the time an executive in the Presbyterian Church, met with Royal in the late 1960's to invite the coach to speak at a men's conference. Royal declined, but their conversation eventually broached the subject of integration. SMU's Jerry LeVias had recently broken the color barrier in the Southwest Conference and Royal explained that Texas planned on breaking its own color barrier, he was just looking for the right player to do it with.
In 1970, Julius Whittier became the first black player to play for Texas. In truth, my grandfather had nothing to do with breaking the color barrier at the University of Texas. Just don't tell him that.
I had the pleasure of meeting him on a couple of occasions as a student at Texas when he attended various football, basketball and baseball games. I told myself to cherish every moment in his presence, not only because I had the pleasure of being in close proximity with a living legend, but because, frankly, I never knew when I would run out of chances to see him with my own eyes.
Royal's passing shook the state of Texas on Wednesday. One day after the presidential election, news of Royal's death led Dallas newscasts with live dispatches from Austin.
On Saturday Texas will open its game with Iowa State by lining up in Royal's trademark Wishbone formation inside the stadium bearing his name. Darrell K Royal may no longer grace the sidelines of Texas football, but to many Texans he was, is and always will be the personification of football in the state of Texas.
The University of Texas tower lit burnt orange on Wednesday night to honor the life of Darrell Royal.
Longhorn Network feature on Darrell Royal's life and legacy.
Update on the search at Arkansas
A young man from Arkansas called last night to ask me a few questions about the search at Arkansas. He asked a number of logical questions (would they really be interested in Charlie Strong, would Gary Patterson take the call, could Tuberville win here, etc...) and we had a very good talk for the first few minutes...
And then the whole conversation changed when he asked me if David Shaw would take the job!
I was in stunned disbelief when he asked me that. "David Shaw, Stanford's coach?" Yes, that's who he asked about. I literally didn't know how to answer that in a polite manner. Why in the world would he ask if David Shaw would take the job.?.?
Well he tells me that someone who he thought was credible said Shaw might be the guy. The conversation got real, real weird at this point.
Readers of FootballScoop generally are a pretty smart group when it comes to coaches and coaching. We're not trying to insult your knowledge, nor were we trying to insult that of the young man who called and asked; but allow us to recap who David Shaw is...
First, Shaw's father is Willie Shaw (longtime NFL coach who also coached in two different stints at Stanford). David himself played at Stanford for four years. He then went into coaching...with the goal of getting back to Stanford, his favorite place in the world. After a couple of stops in the NFL (Eagles, Raiders and Ravens), Shaw spent one year at University of San Diego before coming to Stanford with Jim Harbaugh for the '07 season as the offensive coordinator. Harbaugh, Shaw and their entire staff completely rebuilt Stanford's program in four seasons and when Harbaugh accepted the job with the 49ers, Stanford's administration offered the head coaching position to David. Unless he has aspirations to become President one day, we're pretty sure David Shaw has the job he has worked towards his entire life.
This past Spring I had the pleasure of visiting with Shaw and his staff in their offices in Palo Alto and I routinely stay in touch with them. Great staff. These guys enjoy working together, they are on the same page and they have a great plan. To a man, every guy in the building looks up to Shaw. He has a presence and is a tremendous leader and a great representative of Stanford University.
Anyone who has ever been to Stanford's campus, much less worked there should no that there is no chance in the world that David Shaw would be looking for another job.
OK, sorry for that. Back to last night. In less words than above I tried my best to be polite about this one and simply said that I'm highly, highly confident that David Shaw would not even consider listening to talk about the Arkansas job.
Next...he says, "What about Mike Gundy?" --- What? Why would you think Mike Gundy is looking to leave Oklahoma State? Again, he said this is a guy that people are talking about.
I just don't know who people are listening to. Mike Gundy is not leaving Oklahoma State. Not now, not anytime soon. Seriously people. Talk to these coaches (or someone who knows them...or someone who knows anything about them) before offering this speculation that "Mike Gundy is a candidate at Arkansas". This stuff is ridiculous.
And just when I thought the call couldn't get any crazier, he says "Would Chip Kelly take the job if offered?" My head exploded.
Why on earth would you think Chip Kelly would leave Oregon to come to Arkansas?
Same response, "Well this guy says the Chip could be interested."
I had to end the call. Simply couldn't take it. Didn't mean to be abrupt; but c'mon man. Chip Kelly? Have you guys ever been to Eugene and seen what Chip has to work with? The assets available to him are the best I've seen at the college level. Anything he needs for his program is there. If Nike's working on something new, guess who they are testing it with? Sure, the NFL is intriguing to Chip; but Arkansas? What in the world would make someone think that Chip Kelly would ask for that job?
I apologize for a bit of a rant here; but if anyone says (or said) that David Shaw, Mike Gundy or Chip Kelly has a shot to be the next head coach at Arkansas the person, or people, saying that needs to be questioned.
So who will be the next head coach at Arkansas... in all honesty the indications that I have from sources in the profession are that Jeff Long doesn't know yet who he will hire. He has a list of coaches he plans to speak with and those conversations will take place at the appropriate time. One of those conversations will spark the "I've found my man" moment in Long's head and then he will know who he is moving forward with. Sure, we've heard the whispers of "this coach is interested" and "Long's interested in speaking with ____". We'll keep you posted as more concrete information becomes available to us.
Bill O'Brien reaching out to programs with history of good walk-ons
With his Nittany Lion squad having to deal with scholarship reductions over the next few years, Bill O'Brien and his staff are putting an emphasis on evaluating and targeting the right recruits and developing their non-scholarship players.
When you think of traditionally strong walk on programs, teams like Wisconsin and Nebraska come to mind. O'Brien has started to make calls to staffs and athletic directors at programs around the country with a rich history of developing walk-ons in an effort to ensure that him and his staff get the most out of their "run-ons" over the next few years.
O'Brien started calling his non-scholarship players "run-ons" earlier in the season in an effort to give them credit for the hard work and hustle that they exhibit year round.
“Nebraska, Wisconsin, Iowa, those places have great traditions of run-on programs, and those guys they just have done an excellent job, whether it was Coach Pelini or Tom Osborne or Frank Solich when he was there. They've really been one of the pioneers for run-on-type programs in the history of college football.”
“I'm going to reach out to a few programs." O'Brien added in the Patriot News. "I'm going to leave that between myself and our staff right now but a few programs here in the off season. Personally I will reach out to some of those coaches or athletic directors and see how exactly they went about doing that. And I already have, I already have done that and will continue to do that.”
In the eyes of the staff at Penn State, developing their walk-ons into contributors will be the key to success in the immediate future.
Earlier in the year, secondary coach John Butler explained that the lower amount of scholarships is going to challenge the staff to evaluate talent like they never have before, and then ensure that they maximize that player's given abilities. They'll be looking for those scrappy overachievers, with a ton of Penn State pride, who have to work ethic to go from walk on to major contributor by sheer effort and will.
"The biggest thing about the sanctions is when we recruit over the next four years we’ve got to make sure that every kid we bring in we can maximize his ability. We as a coaching staff have got to be able to get every single ounce of talent from every single kid. There’s no room for error. In the past, if you missed on a guy, he transferred and you replaced him. We can’t do that."
The staff has done an outstanding job since their arrival of maxmizing the talent that they inherited in Happy Valley, and making the most out of a very challenging and unique situation. The next few off seasons will decide the shape of the program as they continue to move forward.
If the success that they've seen so far this season is any indication, the Penn State community has got the right staff (from top to bottom) for the challenge that lies ahead.
Good locker room footage from Cincinnati
After back to back losses to quality Toledo and Louisville squads, Cincinnati got back on track this past weekend with a win over Syracuse (35-24).
It seems that Cinci always does a great job of chronicling all of their behind the scenes stuff, and this past weekend the cameras were in the locker room to capture the pre and post game locker room environment, as well as a few words from head coach Butch Jones and his assistants at the half.
Another well done video here from the Bearcat staff that recruits, fans, and coaches can all enjoy.
Video that Ohio watched before kickoff last night
Here's the quick motivational video that Ohio watched before taking the field against Bowling Green last night.
The Falcons capitalized on some special teams mistakes from Ohio and escaped with a 26-14 victory, and their sixth straight win.
The guys in Athens put together some solid videos, and this one is no exception.
Thursday TV - Clear your schedules tonight
A handful of quality games are featured tonight. You'll want to make sure to clear your schedule and enjoy them.
Eastern time listed.
Indianapolis at Jacksonville - 8:20 - NFL Network
Louisiana-Monroe at Arkansas State - 7 - EPSNU
Florida State at Virginia Tech - 7:30 - ESPN
North Alabama at West Alabama - 7:30 - CSS
The Scoop on Bowling Green vs. Ohio
Having to follow up last night's conference match up of Toledo and Ball State will be no easy task, but tonight Bowling Green (6-3, 4-1) and Ohio (8-1, 4-1) will give it a shot in a meeting between two quality Mid American Conference teams.
Last season, this game went down to the wire, with Ohio escaping with a 29-28 win. However, over the past two weeks the Falcon defense has played lights out defensively, not allowing a single touchdown. In their past five wins, Ohio has scored at least 34 points. Something has to give.
Dave Clawson and his staff have the Bowling Green program hitting on all cylinders right nowl. The Falcons have won their past five straight games, and have ran for at least 200 yards in four of those five games. During that same span, they have also have not allowed an opponent to run for more than 100 yards, and their defense has scored just as many touchdowns as they have allowed as a defensive unit (3).
Frank Solich and his Bobcats have won their last 14 out of 16 (and are undefeated at home this season). Solich's last five losses (dating back to the beginning of 2011) have come by a total of 22 points, or an average of just over 4 points per game. Ohio has also put together a 9-1 mark in midweek games dating back to 2009.
Weekday MACtion games rarely disappoint, and we don't see any disappointment on tap tonight. Be sure to tune in for some quality football
Pac 12 coaches weigh in on the best player in the country
Ask any Pac 12 coach who the best player in the country is and one name that you'll hear more often than not will be USC's "Marqise Lee". Trust them, they've had to gameplan against him
Lee leads the country right now in all purpose yardage, accounting for 223 yards per game for the Trojans. He has more kick return yardage by himself (677) than 75 FBS teams have accounted for all season. couple that with his 1,286 receiving yards, 12 touchdowns, and 17.5 yards each time he touches the ball, and you've got yourself the definition of a dynamic play maker.
Take a look at the video below highlighting his accomplishments and showing why he should be considered for numerous end of season awards. Pay close attention to the quotes at the bottom coming from a few highly respected head coaches from the Pac 12 demonstrating just how much respect they have for Lee's explosive play making ability.