SAN ANTONIO — Just minutes after the Alamodome clock hit zero, a sea of fans wearing burnt orange draped over the Longhorns’ tunnel and chanted the name of their longtime coach.
Mack Brown held the “Hook ‘Em Horns” hand symbol high above his head as he walked off the field and into the locker room for the final time as Texas head coach.
Texas’ 30-7 loss to Oregon in the Valero Alamo Bowl is a tough way to end the 2013 season, but that was hardly the only storyline following Monday night’s game. Brown, who announced his resignation earlier this month, watched his 16-year tenure with Texas officially come to an end, but he said he was still at peace with his decision to step down following Monday’s game.
“Sally and I have absolutely no regrets,” Brown said. “We’ve had a wonderful 16 years and we’re glad we came here. We’ve made so many great friends and had so many great moments with these players.”
Despite this, senior quarterback Case McCoy admitted it was difficult to not send him off with a victory.
“It’s tough, there’s not doubt about it,” McCoy. “We would’ve rather gone out with a win for sure, but we love the man and the man loves us. Inside that locker room we know we fought for him.”
Texas struggled on offense throughout the game, managing just 236 yards of total offense and 13 first downs. McCoy was at the forefront of these struggles, completing eight of his 17 passes for a season-low 48 yards.
Oregon jumped out to an immediate 7-0 lead, as senior safety Avery Patterson intercepted McCoy’s second pass attempt of the game and returned it 37 yards for a touchdown. McCoy threw another pick-six in the fourth quarter to junior linebacker Derrick Malone, who took it back 38 yards to the end zone.
Oregon sophomore quarterback Marcus Mariota, on the other hand, turned in a strong performance in the victory, passing for 253 yards and a touchdown while rushing for 133 yards on 15 carries. Oregon, as a whole, ran well, totalling 216 yards in the win.
Following the game, though, all of the focus remained on Brown.
“Coach Brown brought us all here,” senior left guard Trey Hopkins said. “Guys that other teams may not have wanted, guys that may not have really have had a family, he brought us into a family atmosphere and showed us that he cared about us.”
Brown was touched by the fans’ acts of appreciation throughout the game, but he said this was hardly anything new from the Texas fan base.
“Our fans have been great for 16 years,” Brown said. “It’s unbelievable. Sally and I can’t even answer all the e-mails, and texts and Facebook messages and tweets for the last two weeks. It’s been wonderful, but it’s really been that way.”
Texas figures to undergo a number of considerable changes next season, but none will be bigger than the replacement of Brown.