SAN ANTONIO — Mack Brown came to Texas in 1998 and told a frustrated fan base to "Come early, be loud and stay late." Sixteen years later, many obeyed him again one last time, sticking around even after another pummeling in an underachieving season.
Now they'll find out what the post-Mack Brown era holds.
The Longhorns don't want it to resemble this: Getting crushed by No. 10 Oregon 30-7 in the Alamo Bowl on Monday night in the worst postseason loss of Brown's run at Texas, which tacks on another dreary footnote to a season of constant tension and unmet expectations.
The blowout was a final reminder of why Brown is resigning after 16 seasons at Texas, which he led to a national championship in 2005 but couldn't pull out of mediocrity and disappointment in recent years. He led the Longhorns off the field for the last time with his arm slung around his wife, flashing the "Hook 'em Horns" sign before disappearing into a tunnel to a chorus of cheers.
"The fan base needed to be pulled together because it was very divided in 1997. We pulled them together. We had a great run," Brown said. "Now there's some for you, some against you. That's not fair to these guys. They need to have positive energy all the time. That's what I want for them."
Brown received warm goodbyes from a sellout crowd in what was practically a home game for Texas (8-5). The school marching band spelled his name at halftime, and the halter over Bevo's face was emblazoned with the word "MACK."
It was a tribute to Brown returning Texas to a national power before the last four uneven seasons, when he couldn't reverse a sharp decline since the Longhorns lost to Alabama in the 2009 championship game.
Brown said he had no regrets about making this his exit.
"I think it's best for Texas. It's best for me, it's best for the players," he said. "We need to win more than eight games. Last year was nine. I really thought we had a chance to win all the games this year. It didn't work. It's my job to make that work. I told them tonight, the only regret I had is we didn't win enough games this year."
The BCS-snubbed Ducks (11-2) dominated throughout — even though their famously high-powered offense scored just one touchdown and repeatedly settled for field goals. Yet the rout didn't seem to completely balm the sting of not playing in a BCS bowl for the first time in five years, with Oregon players after the game still reflecting on their championship hopes derailed by November losses.
Quarterback Marcus Mariota had 386 total yards and Oregon returned two interceptions for touchdowns, spoiling Brown's farewell. He led all rushers with 133 yards on 15 carries and was 18 of 26 for 253 yards passing in a Heisman Trophy campaign tuneup for 2014, having announced earlier this month that he was coming back for his junior season.
His one touchdown pass was to Josh Huff, who turned a short pass into a spectacular 16-yard sprint to the end zone.
"Yeah, it wasn't the season we hoped for," Huff said. "That month of November was a tough stretch for us but we were able to come together as a team and continue to fight for one another."
Oregon's first touchdown came on the third play of the game when safety Avery Patterson intercepted an overthrown pass by Texas quarterback Case McCoy and returned it 37 yards to the end zone. McCoy later bookended a dismal performance in his final game with another pick-six, this one returned 38 yards by linebacker Derrick Malone that sent waves of burnt orange-clad fans streaming for the exits.
McCoy scored on a 1-yard rush in the first quarter for Texas' only touchdown. He finished 8 of 17 for 48 yards and was pulled at times in the second half for freshman Tyrone Swoopes.
Running back Malcolm Brown was the lone offensive constant for Texas, finishing with 130 yards on 26 carries.
"It's tough not to get a win for him," defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat said. "Miss Sally, she's like a second mom to us. She takes care of us. Coach Brown loves us "
Far from the uplifting send-off Texas wanted for Brown, the school now shifts its focus to finding a replacement. New Texas athletic director Steve Patterson said before kickoff that he wants a successor by Jan. 15.
Patterson said coaches interested in the job have come forward but wouldn't discuss potential candidates.
"There's interest that's sincere, and there's interest that's 'Help me find a better contract,'" Patterson said.
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