College Station, Texas Dennis Franchione gave Texas A&M; another victory over Texas. Then the embattled coach handed in his resignation.
While there were no Big 12 titles or bowl victories in Franchione's five seasons, his tenure ended on a high note, a 38-30 victory over 13th-ranked Texas that gave the Aggies consecutive wins over their hated rival.
"This team has been special all year to me," Franchione said. "And I thought they played a wonderful game."
Then, Franchione announced he was resigning. He accepted a buyout from the school.
"I've always said that coaches exist for only one reason - the players," he said. "We want them to know that we love them, feel blessed for our time together, and will miss them."
The victory over Texas was too late to save Franchione, coming after four losses the previous five games and his secret e-mailed newsletter for big-money boosters.
Still, Franchione left with A&M;'s first consecutive victories over the Longhorns since 1991-94 under his predecessor, R.C. Slocum.
"Been with him five years and fought hard, and it's a hell of a way to go out," center Cody Wallace said. "Go out with a win."
Stephen McGee threw for a career-high 362 yards with three touchdowns and scored on a hard-driving run. Holder T.J. Sanders got his only career TD when he capped A&M;'s 95-yard drive with a 5-yard TD run on a fake field goal and the defense forced three turnovers (two fumbles, interception) by Texas quarterback Colt McCoy.
Mike Goodson ran 12 times for 72 yards and caught six passes for 82 yards and two touchdowns for the Aggies (7-5, 4-4 Big 12). McGee was 25-of-36 with two interceptions.
Texas (9-3, 5-3), which after its first 0-2 conference start since 1956 had won five straight games, still has an outside shot of making it to the Big 12 championship game if 10th-ranked Oklahoma loses to Oklahoma State on Saturday.
"It's really hard," Texas defensive back Brandon Foster said. "You never enjoy losing, but losing to the Aggies is just even worse."
McCoy was 17-of-32 for 229 yards. Jamaal Charles ran 17 times for 92 yards, with an 8-yard TD the play after Foster's 38-yard interception return in the third quarter.
Two touchdowns in the final 7:36 weren't enough for the Longhorns, who now must wait and see what happens Saturday. If the Sooners lose, there will be a three-way tie for the Big 12 South lead, and the division representative for the league title game would be determined by which team is higher in the next BCS standings. Oklahoma is already ahead, so it's not likely the Sooners would fall behind the Longhorns.
For Franchione, his satisfaction will have to come from beating Texas twice. His 32-28 record was far from what was expected when he took over in Aggieland - especially for the $2 million a year he was scheduled to make through 2012.
In late September, Franchione acknowledged that his personal assistant was sending inside information to boosters who paid $1,200 a year to get the e-mails. Athletic director Bill Byrne said the university had reviewed the e-mail incident and the coach's part in it.
"We are now convinced that he did not intentionally, knowingly, or directly participate in actions that were inappropriate or in violations of rules or policies," Byrne said. "We do believe that coach Franchione was guilty of inadequate supervision and oversight."
Byrne said a national search would begin immediately to find Franchione's successor.
Before his somber announcement, Franchione had been downright giddy on the field during the game.
With the Aggies up 17-0 right before halftime and Texas lined up for a field goal, Franchione called timeout just before the snap and then had a huge grin on his face. The Longhorns were going to fake the kick, hoping to duplicate A&M;'s success the previous drive, but the play was ruled dead and they then settled for Ryan Bailey's 27-yard field goal.
Then in the fourth quarter, Franchione was jubilantly jogging and waving first down for the Aggies after Kellen Heard forced the second fumble by McCoy.
Sanders, the seldom-used senior listed as a backup quarterback, put the Aggies up 17-0 when he took the snap and placed the ball briefly on the ground. He then picked it up and swept around right end on A&M;'s only fake field goal try this season.
"You have to take chances and hope they pay off," Wallace said.
McGee scored on a 6-yard keeper late in the third quarter, when he was hit at the 4, again at the 2 and kept driving until he was in the end zone for a 24-10 lead.