ARLINGTON, Texas — Marcus Mariota’s football season ended without the honor that mattered to him most. Now Oregon waits to see if he will be back for another try.
Going into Monday night’s game against Ohio State, the standout junior quarterback said he would trade the Heisman Trophy he won for a national championship because the team honor was more important to him.
Instead, the Buckeyes bottled up Mariota and overpowered the Ducks for a 42-20 victory in the first College Football Playoff championship.
It may have been Mariota’s final game at Oregon. He has until Thursday to decide if he will skip his senior season and declare for the NFL draft. Mariota, who has already completed his degree, is expected to be a top pick. He said after Monday’s game that he has not made a decision about whether to enter the draft.
Did the devastating loss change his mind about coming back?
“I’m sure it will weigh in a little bit, but there’s a lot of other things that have to play into that decision,” he said. “There’s starting grad school, coming back for another year to improve, there’s a lot of other things that could bring me back. It’s just not specifically this loss.”
Despite the loss, the soft-spoken, lead-by-example team leader had a stellar season.
In addition to the Heisman, Mariota was named AP Player of the Year and the Pac-12’s Offensive Player of the Year and a slew of other awards.
He set conference records for most touchdowns in a single season with 58. He had 42 via pass, 15 on the run and a touchdown catch. He has also set the conference mark for career touchdowns with 134.
And he’s one of four quarterbacks in FBS history to pass for more than 10,000 yards and run for more than 2,000 in his career.
Not that any of that mattered much to Mariota on this night.
“My main focus was to be a great teammate. That’s all I hoped to accomplish,” he said. “I don’t care about legacies.”
All season his bold moves on the field belied his shy demeanor off it.
“The impact he’s had on the field is extremely significant,” Oregon coach Mark Helfrich said. “Off the field, probably even bigger.”
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