Mack Brown era ends at Texas with blowout loss

Mack Brown slung his arm around his wife and headed toward a

section of Texas fans who stuck around to the end of another

disappointment. He flashed the ”Hook `em Horns” sign and

disappeared into the tunnel, showered with applause after his worst

bowl loss in 16 years.

This is how the Mack Brown era ends at Texas.

Brown made no excuses and didn’t become outwardly emotional

after being blown out by No. 10 Oregon 30-7 in the Alamo Bowl on

Monday night, going out with a lopsided goodbye that served as a

final reminder of how far Texas has fallen since its 2005 national

championship and why he was resigning.

The second-winningest coach in Texas history behind only Darrell

Royal, Brown reiterated it was time for him to go.

”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.”

Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota had 386 total yards and the

Ducks returned two interceptions for touchdowns to spoil Brown’s

emotional farewell. 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.

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

powerhouse 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.”

Brown, who hasn’t decided whether he’ll coach again, said he

didn’t know whether he would allow himself to reflect.

”I don’t know. I’ve never been here before,” Brown said.

From the start, Brown didn’t seem destined for a victory

lap.

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.

Whoever Texas hires shouldn’t expect patience from a fanbase

that grew accustomed to winning under Brown, and then became

restless as the Longhorns slid from perennial BCS contention. Brown

arrived in 1998 and went 128-27 by the end of 2009, when the

Longhorns lost to Alabama in its second BCS title game in five

years.

He goes out, however, 30-21 in his final four seasons.

Texas could do a lot worse than look to Oregon for how to pull

off a coaching transition.

Although first-year coach Mark Helfrich couldn’t get the Ducks

to a BCS bowl as Chip Kelly did in each of his four seasons, Oregon

still finished with a fourth consecutive year of 11 or more

victories. This was the Ducks’ third consecutive bowl win.

Playing before New Year’s Day was a disappointing consolation

for the Ducks after entering November unbeaten and ranked No. 2.

Losing to Stanford dashed their national title hopes, but they’ll

be favorites to contend again in 2014 with Mariota back.

Seldom has the Alamo Bowl hosted blowouts like this in recent

years. Seven of the previous eight games had been decided by a

touchdown or less before heavily favored Oregon ended that run of

drama, in front of what was the second-largest crowd in the bowl’s

20-year history.

Follow Paul J. Weber on Twitter: www.twitter.com/pauljweber