Texas' Royal remembered as humble champion


Texas' Royal remembered as humble champion

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) Former Texas coach Darrell Royal was remembered Tuesday as a humble champion who built a powerhouse football program and a Longhorn brand known around the world.

About 1,500 people attended a campus memorial service for the coach who led Texas to national championships in 1963 and 1969 and a share of a third in 1970. Royal also revolutionized college football when he introduced the wishbone offense in 1968.

Royal died in Austin on Nov. 7 at the age of 88. He was buried at the Texas State Cemetery in a private service on Monday.

Royal grew up chopping cotton in Dust Bowl-era Oklahoma and was a standout player for the Sooners in the 1940s. It was Royal who determined Texas would wear not wear ``just orange'' but burnt orange, and put the Longhorn logo on the players' helmets, Texas President Bill Powers said.

``The rarest of creatures: an Oklahoma Sooner who brought glory and unprecedented success to the University of Texas,'' Powers said. ``He was the real creator of the Longhorn brand that defines our institution around the world today.''

Royal was just 32 when Texas hired him before the 1957 season. Over the next 20 years, Texas won 167 games and 11 Southwest Conference titles and played in 16 bowl games. Royal, who never had a losing season, retired in 1976.

The 90-minute service drew dozens of Royal's former players and coaching friends and rivals, including former Arkansas coach Frank Broyles, a close friend, and former Oklahoma coach Barry Switzer, a fierce rival toward the end of Royal's career. Former Heisman Trophy running back Earl Campbell, who Royal recruited to Texas, former Texas A&M Heisman winner John David Crow and former Texas A&M coach R.C. Slocum also attended.

``It didn't matter if you were a starter or on the fifth team, he loved you,'' said James Street, quarterback of Texas' 1969 national championship team.

Willie Nelson, a longtime friend of Royal's sang ``Healing Hands of Time.'' Nelson sang the same song for the Royal and his wife Edith in their home after their daughter Marian died in 1973.

Texas coach Mack Brown, who became very close to Royal since taking over the Longhorns program in late 1997, recounted the lessons Royal taught. The first came when Brown was coaching at Tulane and Royal was among a group of advisers brought in to evaluate the program.

The others told him everything would be fine. Royal told him ``Boy, get out of here as fast as you can.'' Brown listened and soon bolted for North Carolina.

When Brown took the Texas job, Royal told Brown he had to repair a fractured support base, develop new ties with Texas high school coaches and to learn to shrug off criticism.

``One other thing,'' Brown said Royal told him. ``You've got to win all the damn games.''

Brown led Texas to the 2005 national championship, its first since Royal retired.

Broyles, whose top-ranked team lost to No. 2 Texas in the ``Game of the Century'' in 1969, called Royal a great friend. The coaches both announced their retirement after facing each other in the 1976 season finale, a Texas win. Broyles said the families often vacationed in Mexico together.

``We never talked football. It was always golf and family,'' Broyles said. ``He was one of the greatest coaches of all time.''

Switzer, who had a bitter rivalry with Royal in the final seasons before Royal retired, attended the service with current Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione.

Switzer recalled how Royal had Texas assistant Emory Ballard call him in 1970 to help the Sooners install the wishbone offense.

``Darrell did something for us no other coach had ever have done and I don't think I would have done,'' Switzer said. ``I was surprised at the time that he did it ... I was an assistant coach at that time and I hadn't (made him mad) yet. That goes back to what kind of guy he was and person he was.''

Royal also was a veteran of the Army Air Corps and his widow was presented with a U.S. flag by the University of Texas Army ROTC. When the Longhorn band struck up ``The Eyes of Texas'' for Royal for the final time, Edith Royal stood clutching the flag with her right hand raised in the ``Hook'em Horns'' salute.

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Road ahead suggests a wild finish in Eastern Conference playoff race

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Road ahead suggests a wild finish in Eastern Conference playoff race

The Eastern Conference standings are so closely bunched as of today that the third-place Cleveland Cavaliers are only 1 1/2 games ahead of the sixth-place Philadelphia 76ers. With roughly a dozen games remaining for each NBA team, much can and likely will change over the next several weeks.

That is common for this time of the year, but a closer look suggests we could be in for some chaos in the final stretch. There are lopsided remaining schedules and impending personnel changes which could all contribute to one of the wildest regular season finishes in recent memory.

The Wizards are smack dab in the middle of the East playoff race and have their own circumstances to navigate. Let's take a team-by-team look at the middle of the Eastern Conference playoff picture, knowing the top two seeds are all but locked up by the Toronto Raptors and Boston Celtics...


3. Cleveland Cavaliers (41-29, 12 games left)

Monday was a crazy day for the Cavaliers. First, they announced their head coach Tyronn Lue is taking a leave of absence to deal with an undiagnosed health issue. He will be replaced by associate head coach Larry Drew in the interim as he hopes to heal up before the playoffs.

Then, news broke they were getting Kevin Love back from a broken wrist after missing 21 games. Love returned to put up 18 points, seven rebounds, four assists and two blocks in a big win over the Milwaukee Bucks. 

The Cavaliers will be without their coach for an undefined period of time, but now have their second-best player back on the court. That makes their final part of the season extra fascinating.

The Cavs are the team to watch of this group. Even though this season has been filled with turmoil, they still have LeBron James. He and Love have helped form the core of the last three Eastern Conference champion teams. If they pick things up, it's not crazy to consider them among the favorites to get out of the East again.


4. Indiana Pacers (41-30, 11 games left)

The Pacers are mostly healthy as they only feature a slew of minor injuries to big men Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis. But Indiana's remaining schedule is unusually tough and it could make the difference in where they end up.

With only 11 games remaining, the Pacers still have to play the first-place Toronto Raptors once and the Golden State Warriors twice. Six of their last eight games will be on the road. They also see the Heat, Pelicans, Nuggets and Clippers.

The Clippers are currently ninth in the West and battling to make the playoffs. The Pacers will play them twice.

Keep in mind the Wizards own the season series over Indiana and will have a playoff seeding tiebreaker if they end up with the same record. Also worth noting is the Pacers have been much better at home (24-13) than on the road (17-17) this season.


5. Washington Wizards (40-30, 12 games left)

Though the Wizards' schedule is finally letting up soon from the 13 straight playoff teams stretch they have had to endure dating back to February, they too have a tough road ahead. The Wizards still have to play the Spurs (twice), Rockets, Cavaliers, Celtics and Nuggets. Four of their last six games are on the road and they have three back-to-back sets in their final seven games.

That's brutal. They may not have to see the defending champions twice like Indiana does, but the Wizards don't exactly have it easy.

The Wizards will, however, get John Wall back at some point. The five-time All-Star is slowly but surely working his way back and could participate in a full practice by the end of the week. Ideally they will get some games under his belt before the playoffs, but any time an All-NBA player is coming back to your team it's a good thing.

The problem is that there is little room for error in the standings and head coach Scott Brooks will have to reinsert Wall into the lineup during a tough schedule and while Wall is on a minutes restriction. It will be a tricky task to balance his lineups. 


6. Philadelphia 76ers (39-30, 13 games left)

The Sixers may have the most ideal road ahead of these four teams, at least in terms of their schedule. They still have the Timberwolves, Nuggets, Cavs and Bucks. But none of those teams are the juggernauts that Golden State, Houston and Toronto are. And of their final 13 games, the Sixers will play nine against teams outside of the playoff picture.

Philly also does not have to reincorporate a major piece into their rotation, like the Cavs do with Love and the Wizards with Wall. Their biggest injury is to Markelle Fultz, the 2017 No. 1 overall pick. If he does return this season, it will likely be in a minimal role, at least to start.

What could work against the Sixers is their inexperience and recent struggles against good teams. The Sixers are relying on very young players who have never been here before to carry the way. And since Valentine's Day, Philly has just one win against a team above the .500 mark, when they beat the Cavs on March 1. During those 14 games since Feb. 14, they have beaten up on the bad teams but lost to the Wizards, Bucks, Pacers and Heat (twice), basically all the teams surrounding them in the standings. 

Philly also lost their season series against the Cavs and Pacers, tied with the Wizards and are down 2-1 against the Bucks with one game to go. They may go to the finish line without a playoff tiebreaker against all the teams they would want one against.

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Ryan Grant reportedly signing with Colts after failed physical with Ravens

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Ryan Grant reportedly signing with Colts after failed physical with Ravens

It looks like Ryant Grant has found his new home, again.

After a failed physical with the Ravens, James Jones of NFL Network reports Grant plans to sign with the Colts.


Grant originally agreed to a four-year, $29 million deal with the Ravens, before the team pulled the offer citing an ankle injury that dated to the Redskins' final regular-season game, according to reports.

Baltimore eventually signed Michael Crabtree to a three-year deal, while Grant had visits with the Colts and Raiders.

His agent, Rocky Arceneaux, says Grant has been working out, running routes, and his ankle had been cleared by Dr. Robert Anderson in a second opinion.

In 2017 with the Redskins, he appeared in all 16 games, with 45 receptions for 573 yards and four touchdowns.