The Way Back: DKR and LBJ

When Texas met Mississippi in the 1962 Cotton Bowl, it was a highly anticipated matchup. Both teams had gone 9-1 during the regular season, and the Longhorns ended up winning 12-7. The Texas Exes held an event inside the stadium before the game and the guest of honor was then-Vice President Lyndon Baines Johnson, pictured above in conversation with Coach Darrell K Royal. The image above suggests a budding friendship between the two men, but it actually wasn’t until after Johnson left the White House six years later that they became close. 

They had known each other for years. Royal was hired by UT in December 1956, when Johnson was a Texas senator. When Johnson became president in 1963, he invited Royal to the White House. After returning to Texas in 1968, Johnson became a regular at UT games. According to Royal, the former president loved to watch the crowd, tracking the rise and fall of their reactions. “I think that intrigued him about as much as the game,” he said. 

In 1972, while Johnson was still recovering from a heart attack, he called Royal and invited him to his ranch 50 miles west of Austin. From there, they drove to Fredericksburg to play a few holes of golf. Johnson then suggested to Royal that they “go listen to some of your pickers.” Thirty minutes later they were in fold-up chairs at the inaugural Kerrville Folk Festival—much to the chagrin of Johnson’s security detail. 


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