The Chronicle’s David Barron uses last night’s Texas Children’s Hospital fund-raising dinner to honor legendary former University of Texas football coach Darrell Royal as a Texas Legend to pen this fun article on two Clear Thinkers favorites — Coach Royal and Dan Jenkins. Barron includes the following gem from Jenkins comparing how Longhorn fans felt about Coach Royal versus how fans of two other top programs felt about their coaches of that era:
As a writer for newspapers in Fort Worth and Dallas and later for Sports Illustrated, Dan Jenkins, got to see all of the great coaches at work. Royal, Jenkins said, had a unique relationship to Texas and Texans, especially when compared to contemporaries like Woody Hayes at Ohio State or John McKay at USC.
“Darrell’s association with the Longhorn fans was more intimate,” Jenkins wrote in a recent e-mail. “Darrell had good buddies in all the other towns. Woody was standoffish, gruff, and stayed out of the public eye. Most Buckeyes respected him but never got to know him.
“McKay once told me he wasn’t revered by USC alums. They expected him to win. When McKay won his first national championship for the Trojans in ’62, I asked him how he was rewarded, and he said some people got together and bought him a new set of tires.”
Barron also passes along the following Jenkins anecdote about the UT sports information director during the Royal era, Jones Ramsey:
Royal was particularly gifted in the care and feeding of the Fourth Estate, with a little help from the Longhorns’ sports information director ó the late Jones Ramsey, the self-styled “World’s Tallest Fat Man.”
“I fondly recall the first time Jones took two or three of us to El Rancho for lunch,” Jenkins said. “Somebody asked him if it was any good, and Jones said, ‘Is it good? You go in the front and eat the dinner and go out the back and eat the garbage.’ It was the kind of thing Darrell probably said first.”
However, for my money, the best anecdote about Coach Royal was the one that UT women’s basketball coach Jody Conradt told several years ago during another fund-raising dinner. Former Chronicle sportswriter Mickey Herskowitz was there and passed along Conradt’s story:
But the [speaker] who stole the show was Jody Conradt, the Hall of Famer who gave the Longhorns a national championship in women’s basketball.
“They built the Erwin Center 21 years ago,” she said, “and obviously it never occurred to anyone that the women would need a separate locker room. So every room in this place had urinals in it.
“Now we have one of our own. Before one of our games, coach Darrell Royal was kind enough to speak to my team. Before he left, someone asked what the biggest difference was between our locker room and all the ones he knew from all his years of coaching. Coach Royal said:
‘Offhand, I can’t remember anyone ironing anything before a game in one of our locker rooms.’ “
Update: Barron follows up his article with this blog post on the dinner.