Christmas came early for De’Anthony Thomas.
A week after Thomas stated that the Rose Bowl “feels like whatever,” he will get what he wants when he plays in a sub-par bowl, something he’s never done while wearing green and yellow.
Instead of continuing to “win the day,” Oregon’s high-profile players pouted like 5-year-old children who didn’t get ice cream for dessert after their national championship run was ruined.
What happened to Oregon? When did the players’ egos get so big that the Rose Bowl is not good enough?
Supposed team leaders Josh Huff and Thomas spoke to the media prior to Oregon’s game against Arizona and summarized that the Rose Bowl is a “consolation prize” for the Ducks.
Huff said, “I don’t want to play in a Rose Bowl unless I’m playing for a national championship,” while Thomas added “It’s not a big deal at all – we already won a Rose Bowl, so it feels like whatever.”
The Ducks prided themselves in winning the day, treating every opponent with respect and focusing on what they can control and the game in front of them.
All of that went out the window when Thomas and Huff decided to open their mouths.
Oregon played like they didn’t want to go to the Rose Bowl when they traveled to Tucson to face Arizona. Watching the game in the stands, it was obvious there was no heart, no emotion and no sense of urgency in a team playing for a chance to go to the Pac-12 Championship and the Rose Bowl (Marcus Mariota’s tackle after his second interception showed the most heart in Saturday’s game.)
While no Ducks will admit it, the stuff your leaders say generally reflect the mindset of the team. If your leaders are willing to run through a wall for a win, the team is likely to follow. If your leaders speak garbage, it’s a general sense that most of the players are feeling/thinking the same thing.
This isn’t the first time Oregon players have “spoken out” either.
Thomas said before the Stanford game that the Ducks will score “at least 40 points” and we all know how that turned out. He also proclaimed himself physically ready to play after his ankle injury. But mentally, he was far from ready.
Freshman running back Thomas Tyner even got in on the action early in the year when he was quoted as saying, “I think this season we’ll have a really good chance at the national championship.”
It’s one thing if you can back up the smack talk, but for players like Huff, Thomas and Tyner, their play hasn’t always backed up their talk. While all three have had very good statistical seasons, mistakes have overshadowed positive play. Each have been guilty of dropped balls and fumbles at costly times during games that helped lead to both losses.
Oregon needs to look deep within themselves and re-examine what’s important. “Win the day” is not something you just say. It’s something you do, something you live. Somewhere along the line the Ducks forgot that.
Follow Ryan Kostecka on Twitter @Ryan_Kostecka