ARLINGTON, TEXAS –Marcus Mariota's 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 this season 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 might have been Mariota's final game at Oregon. He has until Thursday to decide whether he will skip his senior season and declare for the NFL draft. Mariota, who already has completed his degree, is expected to be a top pick.
Did the devastating loss change Mariota's 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.
"This is a family. I'm truly grateful for all of them. And everything that we've accomplished this season, it says a lot about these guys. I feel truly blessed."
In addition to the Heisman, Mariota won the Maxwell Award and Walter Camp player of the year, along with the Davey O'Brien and Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award.
Not that any of that mattered much to him 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."
Mariota completed 24 of 37 passes for 333 yards and two touchdowns. His final attempt of the game was an interception when the game was out of reach.
"The impact he's had on the field is extremely significant," coach Mark Helfrich said of possibly coaching Mariota for the last time. "Off the field, probably even bigger."