SAN ANTONIO (AP) — 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.