Old School: Royal, Schembechler Hold Court

CARSON CITY, Calif. -- Just hours before Texas and Michigan meet for the first time Saturday, the coaching legends associated with each program sat side-by-side following the Longhorns' final full practice of Rose Bowl week.

Darrell Royal and Bo Schembechler, a pair of coaching icons, spun yarns and waxed philosophically Thursday at The Home Depot Center in Carson City, Calif., on topics ranging from their glory days to the current BCS system that put Texas in its first-ever Rose Bowl. But first there was the matter of thanking Schembechler, again, for the huge favor his Wolverines extended Royal's Longhorns in 1969.

Consider this: there would have been no Texas-Arkansas shootout matching the nation's top two teams had the Wolverines not upset No.1 Ohio State in late November. Texas. of course, went on the defeat the Razorbacks, 15-14, and claim the program's second national championship. Royal says he has thanked Schembechler several times. but recalled the afternoon he first learned of the Ohio State upset. Royal was actually in the press box at Waco, watching the Baylor-Rice game, when suddenly he was mobbed by sports media.

"The first time I heard it was when the press came and asked how I felt about moving into Number One," Royal said, "which wasn't a real tough question."

Schembechler said Royal's way of thanking him was, "He voted for me for Coach of the Year."

The living legends held a captive audience of sports media and, frankly, could have charged admission to their 20-minute session.


Royal: "I was in an interview one time with (QB legend) Sammy Baugh in Abilene, Texas, and they asked Sam how he felt about quarterbacks today making more in one game than he made in a season. Sammy chews a bit and he had him a Styrofoam cup with a napkin in it. He spit in it and said, 'I was born too soon.' I coached in an era where they didn't compensate coaches like that. I'm happy for him. I was just born too soon."

Schembechler: "We're probably the last two guys who coached their entire career without a contract. We never had a contract. We had a Letter of Employment each year, the same as any other faculty person on the campus. That's how we got paid. I remember that I told (Alabama coach) Bear Bryant that one day and he called me the dumbest coach in football because I didn't have a contract. I mean, we didn't worry about it. Maybe we were more secure in our jobs."


Royal: "We've had more controversy with the BCS than with any form of ranking teams. I don't remember there being that much controversy over the Associated Press or the United Press (formerly, the Coaches Poll) to determine the national championship. If you start a national championship (playoff), somebody down the ladder is going to get left off and say they should have been in the playoff. You're just not going to fix it in anyway that's going to please everybody."

Schembechler: I like the Big Ten and Pac-10 tradition. Where I grew up in the Midwest, our goal was to win the Big Ten championship and go to Pasadena and play in the greatest post-season game there is. And I still feel that way. I don't care about national championships. I never did. I don't care if they ever work out a system where we make sure we have a national champion."


Royal: "I wish they'd get over it because we're damn happy to be here."

Schembechler: "If this (the current BCS system) makes it more palatable, how else would we ever match up Michigan and Texas? That makes for a great Rose Bowl game."


Royal: "We were never at any time investigated by the NCAA. And I guess if I was to pick what they'd put on my tombstone it would be that I meant well."

Schembechler: "[Laughing] That's a good answer. I look back on my career and I have no regrets. I have no regrets that I didn't accomplish anything that a coach would like to have accomplished (i.e., national titles). But then, I won a lot of games. I'm satisfied with that. And, as Darrell said, I did it according to the rules."


Schembechler: "As long as you've been out, you can't go in there and sit and watch the game and not be nervous. I mean, real nervous. I don't know how this game will turn out, but I think the team that stops the run will win. If they don't turn the ball over and be mistake-free and stop the run, the team that does that will win. If they got 300 yards rushing, they'll probably win the game."

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