When Texas Longhorns head coach Mack Brown told his football team eight days ago of his intentions to resign following the 2013 season, the players sat in shock, as they recounted late last week in an Alamo Bowl press conference.
The silence hung heavy in the air as the players stopped to consider what it meant for their futures, as the head coach who had recruited them and helped them grow as men stepped aside.
One player broke the silence at the Texas practice facility after the team's workout last Saturday.
"I love you, Coach Brown," said defensive end Cedric Reed.
Ice broken, the rest of the players followed Reed's lead, according to ESPN's Max Olson, hugging their coach and asking him to break down the huddle, a rare request.
"It was just a silent moment. It just came from the heart," Reed said later. "He came and got me from Cleveland (Texas), and I just think it's a lot. He's been my coach since I've been here, and he's just been a great coach. I don't see anything less than that. It was just one of those moments where I just felt something and it just came out."
It's probably safe to say that Reed merely said what many of the other players were thinking as they sat in disbelief at bearing witness to the end of an incredible era.
Several players on Thursday shared their thoughts and emotions produced by Brown's decision after they had more time to reflect on it.
Quandre Diggs, junior defensive back:
"I've known Coach Brown since I was 7 years old. I've always thought he was going to be the coach here. He coached my brother (All-American Texas defensive back Quentin Jammer) and he's coached me for three years. It was emotional. It was the guy that recruited us. It was really emotional when one of those guys that you trust the most and teaches you a lot of lessons in life steps down."
"He's meant a lot. Like I said, he coached me and my brother, so I've known him a long time - probably longest as anyone on the team. So he means a lot to me honestly because he is a legend here, but besides coaching he is a better man. He taught us great lessons in life and just things that are going to help us when we are grown men and fathers down the road. It's just something I've always taken to heart and have a lot of love for."
Dominic Espinosa, junior center:
"Yeah, obviously people were upset. He was a big part of the reason why a lot of us came here. I know I did because of that guy. So obviously it's going to be emotional. It's tough seeing someone go out like that. We might not understand it now, but later on we can look back and know we were a part of that. We had something to do with that. It does hurt. That's why we want to play so hard coming up this game."
Anthony Fera, senior kicker:
"He was a big reason [why Fera transferred from Penn State]. We love Coach Brown. It's sad to see that he's leaving, but I'm not going to be here next season so it's not really going to affect me. He's done great things for this place, and it's sad to see him go."
"I was pretty shocked. I think everyone was kind of shocked. There was a lot of talk and I don't really know where that came from, but I guess he just made the best decision for him and the university."
"Yeah, I mean he wants the best for all of us, and he wants the best for everyone who is involved with the university. He's a really great coach, and he'll go down as a really good coach."
Trey Hopkins, senior offensive guard:
"He's a genuine guy. He's an honest guy. He's always going to let you know exactly what's going on. He's not going to sugarcoat things. He's going to be completely up-front with you, and he's continued that throughout my whole four years of being here."
"Coach Brown has helped me through a lot. I was going through some stuff my sophomore year, and Coach Brown kind of sat me down, walked me through it, and got me back going. He just acts as a father figure. When you're away from your family as much as we are, and you're up here more than you are anywhere else while you're at Texas, he's really a good guy to be able to talk to."
"It was definitely shocking. Again, it's a credit to his honesty. He did that because he believes that he's giving us our best chance to go forth and win. He's doing what he thinks is best for the program. It's a testament to him and how much he thinks of this program, how highly he thinks of it and the kind of respect he has for the Texas logo."
Jackson Jeffcoat, senior defensive end:
"We've gotten past it now. It took a little while. Coach Brown was the one that recruited me. He came and talked to my parents. He knew all these stats about me that no one would know. The way he cares about us. I'm going to miss coming back to see him. It was hard to get past, but we still see him. It's good to see him around here."
"He's just been someone that if I needed to talk to anybody, I could talk to him. He's always been available for me to come and speak to him. He's really become a friend of mine as I've gotten older. He's so genuine. He's a classy guy. He cares about us, and as a young guy, you don't really know that because we're coming in here at 18 or 19, and we don't know. We're surprised by all of this stuff in college, and as you start to get older, you really realize that Coach Brown actually cares about us. He really cares about us as people, not just as a product here at the University of Texas. He wants us to become men of character and to grow and go on to have families. That's something that he preaches all the time about things outside of football. It's not all about football."
Case McCoy, senior quarterback:
"I mean that's the guy that recruited me and my class, the senior class, so you got to respect that. It gave all of us a chance to realize a dream that we all had. It's a part of the coaching world. Being a coach's son, I've had deal with it my entire life. The job is to win a lot of ball games here, that's what people expect at this university and that's something we haven't been able to do."
"Coach Brown, he offered me a scholarship to play at the university. I had a few other, but this is where I wanted to come. He gave me a chance to achieve my dream. He gave me a chance to play in some of the biggest ball games that other guys won't have the chance to play in. I have to honor him for that and be appreciative of that fact. He could have gone out and gotten plenty of other quarterbacks as y'all have let me know. It's been an honor to play for this university and he was able to help that be an accomplishment for me."
Adrian Phillips, senior safety:
"We love Coach Brown. We are just going to fight with Coach Brown every straw against Oregon and come out right. He's meant a lot to me and he's the reason I'm here, so I thank him a lot for that. He's taught me a lot over the past four years. He has built a lot of character for me. He is like the father figure for the team. It's rough.
Cedric Reed, junior defensive end:
"It was a sad moment. Coming off everything he's done for Texas and just to hear him giving us that speech and end it like that. It was a sad moment for all of us. We kind of took it and kind of got down for a while. He's a great coach and he has a great legacy, and we all understood that and where he was coming from."
Mason Walters, senior offensive guard:
"It was a little emotional. Coach Brown deserves to have this and he is really invested into this program. He has more love for this university than for himself and he decided it's best to step away. I have a lot of respect for that and know that he will be successful in anything he does in the future."