Trudging out of this incarnation of Memorial Stadium for the last time were a stream of Cal folks, players and coaches and fans, chins to chests, looking as if they didn't believe what they had seen.
As if it all had come too suddenly -- the conclusion to Saturday's game, the finality of this unremarkable season and maybe even the end of this 88-year era for the facility.
How to react when all at once a game is lost, a season is completely over and the stadium as we have known it is forever relegated to the past?
"Speechless, pretty much," junior safety Sean Cattouse said after the Golden Bears allowed a Washington touchdown on the final play that resulted in a 16-13 loss.
"I sort of went numb," senior defensive end Cameron Jordan said after Cal's season-ending three-game skid assured the school of its first losing season since 2001.
"Your season comes down to two seconds," coach Jeff Tedford recalled. "In two seconds, you're either going to a bowl game or not.
"So "... we were pretty stunned."
As was the announced crowd of 44,613, which had assembled partly in hopes of seeing Cal salvage a .500 season to become bowl-eligible but largely to say goodbye to the place with five generations of history absorbed within its faded and splintered bleachers.
The Bears (5-7, 3-6 in the Pac-10) will play their 2011 home games at AT&T Park in San Francisco. Upon returning to Berkeley in 2012, they will stroll into a new stadium and performance center, a vastly improved facility -- at an estimated $321 million, it had better be -- generated almost entirely by the success of Tedford's nine-year run as head coach.
Yet there still was the present: Cal closing its winningest decade since the 1930s with Tedford's first losing season.
Making matters worse, athletic director Sandy Barbour and Tedford were placed in the uncomfortable position of spending a few postgame minutes sitting behind microphones defending the school's integrity.
The AD and coach, having conferred with Pac-10 officials during the week, decided Friday to place a one-game suspension on defensive line coach Tosh Lupoi for instructing his players to fake injuries in the Nov. 13 loss to Oregon. The purpose of the deception was to stop the action and slow a no-huddle, high-speed Ducks offense designed to exhaust defenses and limit substitution.
To recap, Cal's football program lost a game in the final seconds, saw its season end in a blink, closed down its stadium and punctuated the day's activity by conceding that it had resorted to trickery in a game it lost two weeks earlier.
For the Bears, it was a turn of events as comprehensively unwelcome as the weather, which was cold and by turns rainy or sunny, with a sprinkling of sleet.
"Just a great sense of disappointment," summarized junior tailback Shane Vereen.
With backup quarterback Brock Mansion struggling once again, Cal's offense consisted mostly of Vereen taking handoffs and trying to make the most of it. He carried 23 times for 106 yards. Cal totaled 283 yards in offense, only 92 through the air.
Moreover, the Bears' offense failed to reach the end zone; Cal's scoring came on 53- and 47-yard field goals by Giorgio Tavecchio and Jordan's 21-yard scoring rumble with a recovered Huskies fumble.
Yet the Bears were up 13-10 when Washington took over at its 21-yard line with 4:39 remaining. The Huskies marched downfield, the big play being a 46-yard completion from quarterback Jake Locker to Jermaine Kearse, until they faced fourth-and-goal from the Cal 1.
Huskies coach Steve Sarkisian chose hubris over humility. Eschewing the potential game-tying field goal, he sent tailback Chris Polk knifing over right tackle and into the end zone.
The clock showed zeros. The Huskies (5-6, 4-4) stormed the field and celebrated with their rooting section.
Fans stood trancelike before slowly moving toward the exits. Cal players and coaches scattered and dithered and, eventually, headed toward the locker room.
"Nobody wants to finish a season like this," Cal junior wideout Marvin Jones said.
The final game day of Memorial Stadium as we have known it for all these years will be as memorable for its heartbreaking denouement as it was forgettable for Cal's lackluster performance.
The Bears waved goodbye to one of the finest venues in college football not with a roar but with a damp whimper and, gratuitously, a bit of stain on their character.
Not exactly what the Memorial Stadiums ghosts had in mind. Then again, they've been around long enough to have seen worse.
Contact Monte Poole at email@example.com.