Tag Archives: Marcus Mariota

Pulling for ‘home boy’ of sorts for Heisman Trophy

I haven’t had this much interest in the Heisman Trophy since, oh, 2015 when Oregon’s Marcus Mariota won the award as the nation’s top college football player.

The object of my attention this year is a young man from Allen, Texas, who plays for the University of Oklahoma. I refer to Kyler Murray, the OU quarterback.

Given that I now live about one mile north of Allen High School — and one of my granddaughter’s brothers graduated from there while another one is attending Allen HS — I want Murray to win.

He’s got some tough competition among the finalists: Tua Tagovailoa of Alabama and Duane Haskins of Ohio State. All of them are QBs.

But . . . I’m going to pull for Kyler Murray. I don’t particular follow OU football. I haven’t yet gotten into the Allen Eagles’ groove, although I am aware of their multiple Texas Class 6A football championships — with is a real big deal!

We’ll know shortly who gets the Heisman. Kyler Murray has a decision to make: football or baseball? He’s signed a contract with the Oakland A’s. The kid can play hardball, too.

Come to think of it, John Elway was thought to be a better baseball player than a football player when he graduated from Stanford in the early 1980s. He chose football.

Elway’s gridiron career turned out all right.

You go, Marcus and the Titans!

There once was a time when I despised the Tennessee Titans of the National Football League.

You see, they once were known as the Houston Oilers. Then the Oilers’ owner, Bud Adams, decided he wanted a nicer place to play his home football games. The Astrodome — the former Eighth Wonder of the World — wasn’t good enough for him, so he packed his team up and moved to Nashville.

I lived with my family for 11 years in Beaumont and I became a fairly diehard Oilers fan. I hated the Titans for quite some time.

Then they did something rather cool. The Titans drafted a young quarterback out of the University of Oregon. Marcus Mariota won the Heisman Trophy playing QB for the Ducks, which happen to be my favorite college football team; I am a native of Oregon, which you might already know.

With that draft pick, the Titans elevated themselves from the hated to the revered. Just … like … that.

Last night, I watched Mariota perform some gridiron magic that made me proud to call this former Duck one of my homeys.

The Titans trailed the Kansas City Chiefs by 21-3 at halftime of their American Football Conference wild card playoff game. The teams took the field in the second half and Mariota then demonstrated why he is considered the Titans’ “franchise quarterback.”

From from the Chiefs’ 6-yard line, Mariota tossed a pass, which got deflected and caught the pass himself — and then he dived into the end zone for another touchdown. Mariota to Mariota! Then he fired a 22-yard touchdown pass.

Late in the game, Mariota handed the ball off to another Heisman winner, Derrick Henry, who scampered around the left end — and got a decisive block from none other than … Marcus Mariota. Quarterbacks don’t usually throw their bodies at defensive players, let alone brutish linebackers.

The Titans won the football game 22-21.

I am a happy Titans fan today.

Well done, Marcus. You made this native Oregonian might proud.

Pro football rookie is ‘too good to be true’?

There is a story making the rounds that suggests a “new normal” among prospective professional athletes.

It’s that some pro scouts, team executives and analysts just cannot believe that a possible star athlete doesn’t carry any baggage, that he’s got to have something wrong about him.

Marcus Mariota won the Heisman Trophy this past season while playing quarterback for the University of Oregon.


He’s a fine young man. He’s devoted to his family. He finished his college education, earning his degree at Oregon. He’s the proverbial Boy Scout.

Then we hear that Oregon head coach Mark Helfrich reports that some National Football League analysts and scouts were spooked by the absolute absence of any skeletons in Mariota’s closet.

As Larry Brown writes in MSN.com: “The NFL is so used to finding at least something wrong with players that they balk when they can’t dig up any dirt.”

OK, Mariota isn’t perfect. He got a speeding ticket in Eugene, Ore., during his final year at Oregon.

But that’s it. Apparently.

Are we going to believe now that NFL general managers, scouts, coaches — maybe even the fans — demand that their star athletes punch out women, abuse drugs, steal things or launch into profanity-laced rants on national television?

The Tennessee Titans thought enough of Mariota to draft him No. 2 overall.

I’m going to go with the Titans’ judgment on a young man who certainly looks like the real thing.

Still waiting on explanation for Seminoles' departure

The media have reported — as they should — on the crummy conduct of three University of Oregon football players who chanted “No means no” while celebrating the Ducks’ win over Florida State in the semifinal game of the college football playoffs.

The chant was aimed at FSU quarterback Jameis Winston’s alleged sexual assault a couple of years ago.

Oregon head coach Mark Helfrich has said the players will be disciplined for their demonstration.


Now … what about the Seminoles’ conduct at the end of the game? Three-fourths of the team left the field before the final gun sounded to end the game, which ended with a 59-20 score in favor of the Ducks.

It’s customary for the coaches to meet at midfield, hug each other’s neck, shake hands and congratulate each other for a great game. The players do it, too.

It didn’t happen that way New Year’s Night in the Rose Bowl. The Ducks took congrats from a few FSU players. One of them was Jameis Winston, the 2013 Heisman Trophy winner, who hugged the 2014 Heisman winner, Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota. The two young men exchanged kind words.

Not a word — that I’ve heard, at least — has come from FSU head coach Jimbo Fisher about the conduct of his players.

Isn’t there a code of sportsmanship and decorum that’s supposed to be followed here? Has that code been lost on players who got walloped on the field, but who then haven’t learned how to take their defeat like grown men?

And what kind of leadership are they getting when their head coach doesn’t own up to his players’ disrespectful behavior?


Yes, we're Texans now … but, go Ducks!

My wife and I moved to Texas more than 30 years ago to allow me to advance my career in journalism.

It worked out pretty well for us since we landed in Beaumont, where we lived for nearly 11 years before moving to Amarillo just shy of 20 years ago.

Even though we now call Texas home, I remain of Oregon, the state of my birth, land of tall trees and mountains, a rugged coastline, a major city with a glorious downtown district — and from time to time, college football teams that capture the nation’s attention.

This year, the Oregon Ducks are front and center.

They have a Heisman Trophy recipient, Marcus Mariota, calling plays as their quarterback. They have a talented corps of receivers who catch Mariota’s bullet passes, some fleet running backs who can pick ’em up and lay ’em down, a defensive front line that has emerged as one of the best in the nation and a homegrown head coach, Mark Helfrich, who is working the job of his dreams.

In a few hours, the Ducks are going to play Florida State in the Rose Bowl. The Ducks have been to the Granddaddy of Bowl Games three times since 1995. The game Thursday marks No. 4. They have a chance not only to win the game, but to advance to one more game. The Big Game. The one that determines the national champion of all of college football.

The Ducks played for the championship in 2011, losing to Auburn in a thriller.

This time, it feels a bit different. They enter the game as the favorites, although that doesn’t mean squat. As the saying might go: You play the game anyway. FSU is undefeated and has escaped its share of close scrapes this season.

And that makes me modestly — and cautiously — confident about the Ducks’ chances against the Seminoles. They’ve got a Heisman winner, too, last year’s pick Jameis Winston at QB. He’s a good one as well. They’ve got a stout defense and a freshman running back with tremendous balance.

I won’t make any predictions here. I’m not smart enough to pretend to know the ins and outs of a complicated sport.

The next big game will be against either Ohio State or Alabama, who will play later Thursday in the Sugar Bowl.

So, with that I plan to watch a little college football Thursday, starting around 4 p.m. Texas Panhandle time.

The Oregon Ducks need some love. I’m just one transplanted Oregonian sending all the love I can muster. Any additional love and good karma would be much appreciated.


Character seems to matter more

OK, one more comment about the Heisman Trophy presentation and I’ll be done.

I’ve been reading since Saturday night’s ceremony honoring University of Oregon All-Universe quarterback Marcus Mariota about the young man’s character.

It is exemplary. And it is made even more so in light of three of the past four Heisman Trophy winners’ own character.


College football needed someone like Mariota to win the Heisman Trophy.

His athletic exploits are — to borrow a term he’s used in recent days to describe his Heisman experience — utterly “surreal.” Football experts and casual fans of the game understand what he’s done on the field.

It’s the off-the-field stuff he does and things he does when no one’s looking that seems to matter more.

Auburn’s Cam Newton won the honor in 2010 amid a recruiting scandal; Johnny “Football” Manziel at Texas A&M won the honor two years later and has behaved in a less-than-gentlemanly manner all too often; Florida State’s Jameis Winston has those sexual abuse charges hanging over his head. In the middle of that Heisman sequence is Baylor’s Robert Griffin III, another fine young man.

Marcus Mariota? Well, he got a ticket for speeding several weeks ago. He paid the fine and apologized for messing up.

In truth, the other two finalists for the Heisman — Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon and Alabama receiver Amari Cooper — also fit the Boy Scout mode. Everyone’s a winner, as the presenter said immediately before announcing Marcus Mariota’s name.

I’m obviously glad for Mariota. I’m proud that a football program from my home state of Oregon can boast about one of its athletes’ high honor. I also am glad for college football, which has awarded its best-player-in-the-country trophy to a young man who’s a role model — and is proud of it.



Looking forward to watching this young man evolve

Watching the Heisman Trophy presentation to the University of Oregon’s Marcus Mariota leaves me with several takeaways.


* As a native of Oregon, it was great fun to watch the second Heisman winner come out of my home state. This one’s a bit different, though, from the first one. Oregon State quarterback Terry Baker won the award in 1962. He didn’t fare well with the pros and washed out after a couple of seasons. He then went on to law school, became a successful lawyer and has lived an exemplary life. Mariota hails from Honolulu; Baker, though, is a native of Portland — the same home town as yours truly. So I feel a bit more of an Oregon kinship with Baker than with Mariota.

* Mariota’s decided lack of flash is a wonder to me, given all the bells and whistles associated with the Ducks’ football program. It’s well-funded, chiefly by Nike founder — and Oregon grad — Phil Knight. Everyone talks about the vast uniform ensembles from which the Ducks choose to wear every game day. Their training facilities are the best in the nation. Their home stadium is among the loudest venues in the country. Mariota, though, chooses to avoid the spotlight.

* The young man is humble. I mean, truly humble. Watch his speech on the link I’ve attached to this blog and you will be convinced that his humility is genuine.

* Finally, I look forward to watching him turn professional. If he succeeds in the National Football League, then I will interested in seeing how his public persona develops, changes and evolves. He’ll be asked to speak — a lot — to the media. He’s a young man now, 21 years of age. He has his degree. He’s got one more year of football eligibility left at Oregon; do not expect him to stay, now that his classwork is done.

His remarks after receiving the Heisman Trophy tonight were truly remarkable.

Sap that I am, I wept just a little as I watched Marcus’s dad wipe the tears from his eyes.

Well done, Marcus. Now, it’s time to beat Florida State in the Rose Bowl.


Ducks facing dreaded SI jinx

I’m sweating bullets.

My University of Oregon Ducks are rated as the second-best college football team in the country, right behind Alabama’s Crimson Tide. So what happened to the Ducks this week? Their Heisman Trophy candidate quarterback, Marcus Mariota, ends up on the cover of the nation’s premier sports magazine.

Why the heavy perspiration? It’s that dreaded Sports Illustrated Cover Jinx. Players and teams fairly routinely end up on the cover — only to tank it the next time they compete.

The Ducks are facing next Thursday what looks like their most difficult opponent. They travel to Palo Alto, Calif., to take on the Stanford Cardinal, the No. 5-ranked team in the country and a team that a year ago went to the Ducks’ crib in Eugene and smashed its way to a 17-14 upset victory.

I say “smashed” because that’s the kind of football the Cardinal plays. Stanford is big, tough and it just loves to keep the football out of the other team’s hands, which for Oregon is terrible. The Ducks faced Ohio State in the Rose Bowl a couple of seasons ago and the Buckeyes beat the Ducks 26-17 by doing what Stanford is so good at doing.

I’m not going to be a Gloomy Gus here and predict the Ducks will lose next Thursday. They have been virtually unstoppable all season long. Their go-go offense has run up a lot of points on some good teams.

It’s that SI jinx, though, that has me worried. Will it bite the Ducks in their tails?

The story is quite flattering. It says the Ducks have reinvented the West Coast Offense. Mariota is considered a leading candidate for the Heisman Trophy. The Ducks just might be heading for the national championship game.

Quick, let’s hide all copies of the SI issue from the Ducks. Don’t let ’em read it.