Under Royal, Texas won 11 Southwest Conference titles, 10 Cotton Bowl championships and national championships in 1963 and 1969, going 11-0 each time. The Longhorns also won a share of the 1970 national title, earning him a national stature that rivaled that of Alabama's Paul "Bear" Bryant and Ohio State's Woody Hayes. Royal was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1983.
Funeral arrangements were not immediately announced, but Royal will be buried at the Texas State Cemetery in Austin, an honor typically reserved for the state's military and political leaders.
On Saturday, the Longhorns will honor Royal at their home game against Iowa State by wearing "DKR" stickers on their helmets and by lining up in the wishbone formation, which Royal used to such great success, for their first offensive snap.
"Today is a very sad day. I lost a wonderful friend, a mentor, a confidant and my hero. College football lost maybe its best ever and the world lost a great man," current Texas coach Mack Brown said Wednesday. "His council and friendship meant a lot to me before I came to Texas, but it's been my guiding light for my 15 years here."
As a player at Oklahoma, Royal was a standout quarterback, defensive back and punter, and he credited hard work and luck for his success on the field and later as a coach. He had a self-deprecating style and a knack for delivering pithy quotes — or "Royalisms" — about his team and opponents.
"Football doesn't build character, it eliminates the weak ones," was one of Royal's famous lines.
"Luck is when preparation meets opportunity," was another.
"He was a guy who was so strong and so determined and so direct about things," said former Texas quarterback James Street. "He was that way to the very end."