Army fifth-year coach Rich Ellerson didn't hide what it meant for his own future for a millisecond.
Embattled coaches all over should watch the tape of Ellerson's postgame news conference, how this man handled questions about his precarious situation.
"I was brought in to win football games and beat Navy," Ellerson said, realizing he hasn't done enough of the first and never achieved the second.
"I knew the job description. It wasn't to get close," Ellerson added.
Close was where Army had been for a quarter and a half: the Cadets within 3-0 despite a couple of turnovers, their defense holding up surprisingly well.
Afterward, Ellerson explained that he changed quarterbacks because of the conditions, opting for the "big mitts" of his seasoned junior, Angel Santiago, over the bigger-play capability of sophomore A.J. Schurr, since big plays can't be made if you can't hold on to the ball.
"That got away for the reason any football game gets away," Ellerson noted, referring to Navy's big plays and Army's turnovers.
The Midshipmen succeeded by running straight ahead, ripping through Army's secondary. Army had no counter.
Asked about the difference in athleticism, Army's coach said: "I think we closed the gap the last two years. But clearly the gap has opened back up."
This man - who by sheer coincidence had recruited Navy's coach, Ken Niumatalolo, to play college football at Hawaii - said this year's version of the Midshipmen was the best he'd faced, no doubt better than last season, when the Cadets almost pulled an upset. (That relationship between the coaches made Navy's unnecessary score in the last minute even more mystifying, despite Niumatalolo's explanation that a record for a player was at stake.)
And maybe, Ellerson said, the majesty of this rivalry "seduces" players into trying to pull off heroic deeds. Imagine the depths of that seduction when you factor in Army's losing streak to Navy. Army's coach talked of players "trying to play out of their shoes and trying to have a superhuman effort." He said all this with respect.
"It's not about me," Ellerson said. "It's about those guys. That's who I'm sick for."
They'd paid the price, he had told them before the 114th Army-Navy game, forging "a bond you couldn't believe."
If Ellerson talks like a military man, he comes by it honestly. He was born in Japan while his father, a career Army officer, was stationed there. His oldest brother was a captain of the storied '62 Army team. Another brother is also a West Point graduate.
That said, there were an awful lot of multigenerational West Point families walking around the Linc Saturday and probably none of the men in those families plans to coach Army's team next season.
Ellerson's background had seemed perfect, but Army was still taking a chance bringing him in since his experience as a head coach had been a level down at California Polytechnic. Ellerson had been a defensive coordinator at Arizona and was the creator of a defense dubbed the Desert Swarm. So while hiring him had been taking a chance, it had been a good chance. But Ellerson's record over five years is 20-41 after this 3-9 season.
If Army moves on - and Ellerson is clearly now prepared for it - the rivalry itself may be diminished that it didn't work out.
As Ellerson left the news conference, a friendly face told him: "Stay strong." That had been a theme in the news conference as Army's coach talked about his men.
"When this terrible feeling diminishes, what is left will be that bond," Ellerson said.