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Royal, who acknowledged being unconcerned about racial discrimination for much of his life and had all-white teams up until 1969, credited Johnson with turning around his viewpoint.

Royal had a folksy, straight-forward approach to football and life that credited hard work as well as luck for his success.

He was among the first football coaches in the nation to hire an academic counselor to ensure athletes went on to graduate. He also set aside a fund for a special “T” ring, which he personally awarded to his players upon their graduation.

He was a stickler for following the rules, even when he disagreed with them.

In 1976, Royal accused then-Oklahoma coach Barry Switzer of sending a spy to Texas practices, a violation of NCAA rules if the scout was reimbursed for his work.

Royal challenged Switzer to take a lie detector test over the matter and said he would resign as coach at Texas if Switzer passed it. Switzer refused and the Texas-Oklahoma rivalry took on added intensity

Royal was the youngest of six children born to Katy and B.R. “Burley” Royal and grew up in tiny Hollis, Okla., where he chopped cotton as a young boy to help his family through the Depression.

His mother died before he was even 6 months old, and he lost two sisters to a fever epidemic before he reached the age of 11.