Mariota shines, Ducks defense stands tall in Alamo Bowl win over Texas
Oregon players celebrate the team's win over Texas in the Valero Alamo Bowl Monday. Oregon won 30-7. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
SAN ANTONIO, TX (AP) -
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.
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