Darrell Royal, influential Texas football coach, dies at 88
Darrell Royal, one of college football's most acclaimed coaches, who led the University of Texas Longhorns to three national championships, has died in Austin, Texas. He was 88.
He had been suffering from Alzheimer's disease.
When Mr. Royal was named the Texas coach in 1957, he took over a team that had won only one game the previous season. When he retired after 20 seasons, he had coached the Longhorns to 11 Southwest Conference championships and 16 bowl appearances, and he never had a losing team. He was national coach of the year five times and was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1983.
His squads pioneered the wishbone running offense.
Mr. Royal coached stars like Earl Campbell and Roosevelt Leaks at running back, Scott Appleton at tackle and Tommy Nobis at linebacker, compiling a record of 167-47-5 at Texas.
But his image came under fire when one of his reserve linemen of the mid-1960s, Gary Shaw, told of brutality and intimidation in his 1972 book, Meat on the Hoof: The Hidden World of Texas Football.
Shaw wrote that Mr. Royal put seldom-used players through drills in which they pummeled one another, hoping that many would quit so he could find more spots for highly talented high school players.
"I don't deny at all that we ran a tough program, especially back then," Mr. Royal told Texas Monthly in 1982.
Mr. Royal was an All-America quarterback, defensive halfback and a brilliant punter at Oklahoma for Coach Bud Wilkinson.
■ Carmen Basilio, the welterweight and middleweight boxing champion of the 1950s who fought two brutal bouts with Sugar Ray Robinson, winning his middleweight title and then losing it to him, died Wednesday at age 85 in Rochester, N.Y. His death was announced by the International Boxing Hall of Fame in Canastota, N.Y., where Basilio was born. He was in the first class of inductees in 1990.
They called him the Upstate Onion Farmer — his Italian immigrant father worked the onion fields near Syracuse, N.Y. — but Mr. Basilio wanted nothing more than to be a pro boxer. He became a champion with an unrelenting style of attack, willing to take punishment as well as dish it out. "There was no one with more determination than Carmen," his trainer Angelo Dundee said.
Mr. Basilio was one of 10 children. His father was "a fight nut," as he recalled, and bought his sons boxing gloves. Basilio boxed in the Marine Corps during World War II, then made his pro debut in 1948.
UK soccer wins C-USA opener, 1-0
After battling through 75 minutes of scoreless action Wednesday night, Kentucky senior defender Jacob Kemper netted his first career goal on a strike from 30 yards out, leading the Wildcats to a 1-0 win over Memphis in the opening round of the Conference USA Tournament, hosted by UAB in Hoover, Ala.
Kentucky (10-8-1) needed a win in the first-round C-USA Tournament game to boost its post-season résumé as well as advance to face C-USA regular-season champion and No. 19 SMU on Friday. UK owned the No. 26 NCAA RPI and the No. 13 strength of schedule in the nation entering Wednesday's game.
■ The Daily News of Bowling Green is reporting that a private fund-raising campaign is under way in hopes of offering a pay increase to Western Kentucky football coach Willie Taggart.
Taggart, 36, is often mentioned as a potential candidate for higher-profile college football coaching positions. Taggart is 15-18 overall at WKU since his first season in 2010.
WKU struggled in its transition to the Football Bowl Subdivision. But Taggart, after a 2-10 record in his first season, guided the Hilltoppers to a 7-5 mark in 2011 and a 6-3 record so far this season. Western Kentucky hopes to be picked for its first post-season bowl berth.
Taggart currently receives a $475,000 base salary, the fourth-highest paid coach in the Sun Belt Conference.
SPORTS IN THE COURTS
Ex-Tiger Young pleads guilty
Former Detroit Tigers slugger Delmon Young pleaded guilty Wednesday to aggravated harassment for shouting an anti-Semitic slur and tackling a man outside a New York City hotel last spring.
The 27-year-old, who became a free agent after the World Series, was ordered to complete 10 days of community service and enroll in a program at the Museum of Tolerance New York.
Young was accused of yelling anti-Jewish epithets at a group of tourists and tussling with them when the Tigers were in town to play the Yankees. Young was suspended without pay for seven days by Major League Baseball. Young hit three home runs and had a .313 batting average in the post-season.
■ Former Yankees pitching prospect Brien Taylor has been sentenced in New Bern, N.C., to 38 months in prison after pleading guilty in August to distributing crack cocaine.
The 40-year-old said in federal court Wednesday that he was sorry for causing so much pain to his family and his five daughters.
"This is a tragic story — all too often our professional athletes spiral into criminal activity after an athletic disappointment or injury," Thomas Walker, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina, said. Taylor was the No. 1 overall selection in the 1991 draft and got a then-record $1.55 million signing bonus, but he never threw a pitch in the major leagues.
Djokovic outduels Murray in ATP finals
In what is shaping up to be the new top rivalry in tennis, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray whacked the ball for three more grueling sets Wednesday at the ATP finals in London. Advantage, Djokovic.
The top-ranked Serb got the big break when he needed it late in the third set and held off Murray 4-6, 6-3, 7-5. "I think both of us probably see each other's games pretty well," said Murray, who beat Djokovic to win his first major title at the U.S. Open. "That's why there's a lot of long rallies, and the matches are incredibly tight."
Djokovic is now 4-3 against Murray in 2012, with his biggest win coming in a five-setter in the Australian Open semifinals. But Murray had won two of the previous three, including in the semifinals of the Olympics and in the U.S. Open final — another five-setter.
Despite the win, Djokovic still hasn't advanced to the semifinals at the season-ending tournament for the top eight players in the world. Tomas Berdych beat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 7-5, 3-6, 6-1 in the late Group B match, keeping all four players alive in the tournament. On Friday, Djokovic will face Berdych, while Murray will take on Tsonga.
Padres' Grandal tests positive, suspended
San Diego Padres catcher Yasmani Grandal has been suspended 50 games because of a positive test for testosterone. The ban will take effect at the start of next season. Grandal, drafted by the Reds 12th overall in the 2010 MLB Draft, made his big-league debut this year. He hit .297 with eight home runs in 60 games. He turns 24 on Thursday.
■ Tour de France champ Bradley Wiggins was recovering in a hospital Wednesday after being hit by a car while riding his bike in northern England. Britain's Press Association said Wiggins, who also won Olympic gold in the London Games this summer, sustained broken ribs as well as cuts and bruises in the accident in Wrightington.
The last words
Darrell Royal's coaching career was matched only by his Royalisms, homespun sayings that are still quoted today. After his Longhorns had been beaten by Arkansas and Rice on successive Saturdays in 1965, Royal was asked if he planned major changes. He replied: "There's an old saying, 'You dance with the one that brung ya.'"
He favored the ground game. As for passing: "Three things can happen, and two of them are bad."
As for attitude: "You've got to think lucky. If you fall into a mud hole, check your back pocket. You might have caught a fish."