Marcus Mariota was selected as the starting quarterback for the Oregon Ducks 2012 football season and my anxiety has culminated into thrill.
I don’t know why I was so nervous about the decision to begin with. After all, it’s just college sports. Whatever decision was made, both candidates Bryan Bennett and Marcus Mariota were more than capable of the taking the wheel for the Oregon Ducks. This is just sports. This was just one decision.
I was aware of all of this. And for whatever reason, I still texted my sister at 3:00 a.m. in the morning and told her to wake me up at 6:30 in time for Chip Kelly’s appearance and expected decision on the Dan Patrick Show (per The Register-Guard). Was I actually having trouble sleeping over this? I could only imagine how Bennett and Mariota must have felt last night.
"We've got to meet with our players first," Chip Kelly told listeners this morning much to my groggy dismay. "It would not be fair for me to tell you guys on the air...because you're so well heard around the country. Everybody would know."
After the initial disappointment upon learning that the announcement would be put on hold for at least a few more hours, I was awake only a short while later perusing Twitter waiting for some kind of a leak on the decision.
I waited and refreshed and occasionally checked my Tumblr. If the announcement was going to be made early, I wanted to be the first one to know.
Until 9:23 a.m. PT struck on the clock, and suddenly the wait was over.
Marcus Mariota named Oregon Ducks starting quarterback oregonlive.com/ducks/index.ss…— Aaron J. Fentress (@AaronJFentress) August 24, 2012
In the past, the Oregon Ducks roster has affectionately been called a rotating “plug-and-play” depth chart. There’s an undeniably accurate sentiment in that assertion considering the history that the Oregon Ducks have had with replacement success.
When quarterback Jeremiah Masoli was suspended from the team, Darron Thomas replaced him and won two conference championships and earned a Rose Bowl victory. When running back LeGarrette Blount was suspended from the team, LaMichael James became his replacement. With James no longer on the team, fans have much confidence in Kenjon Barner and De’Anthony Thomas to replicate last season’s critical success.
With Darron Thomas no longer on the team, Mariota has emerged as a rising star in Oregon. As Bleacher Report lead writer Michael Felder observed, there’s a lot of shared similarities with the two quarterbacks.
“Chip Kelly, for the second time in three seasons, picked the bright future over the guy who many people expected to start come season's end the year before. First, it was Darron Thomas, now it is Marcus Mariota; and Mariota has some tremendous shoes to fill from a "first-year starter" standpoint.”
Regardless, the newly emerged confidence in Marcus Mariota is arguably unparalleled.
In a column by ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit released before Mariota was even announced as the starting quarterback, Mariota was listed as the single “most ahead of the curve” player in the nation.
Once he was announced as the starter, the compliments (including high praise from former Oregon star LaMichael James and editor-in-chief of the Heisman Pundit blog Chris Huston) continued to file in rapidly.
I see Marcus Mariota as a clear upgrade over Darron Thomas. It might take him a couple games to get salty, but he'll be a better player.— Chris Huston (@HeismanPundit) August 24, 2012
Earlier this week, I submitted a column, a fact-ridden column about the pros and cons of starting Marcus Mariota at quarterback this season. If you’re looking for more facts about the new 6’4” Oregon quarterback from Hawaii, read that piece.
Instead, my impressions of the morning continue to swarm around in my head. With only eight days until he takes his first snap at quarterback, all of the hype that could have been surrounding him for the entire offseason will be compacted into roughly one week.
Which is fair, considering the prestige of the Oregon program. Marcus Mariota, the new Oregon quarterback, was trending nationwide on Twitter by 11:30 a.m. PT approx. two hours after the announcement was leaked.
Mariota, who has been called “a more polished Dennis Dixon,” is also a potential four-year starter who can stay in the limelight for years to come. Considering that he took last year to redshirt as a freshman, with four years of eligibility, Mariota has the potential to play with other potential Oregon Ducks legends such as Kenjon Barner, De’Anthony Thomas and Thomas Tyner in his career.
“It’s been a long haul for us,” Mariota told The Register-Guard. “I think we’re both anxious, but we both understand we made the team better, and that’s all we wanted to do in this whole thing. We’re excited to see what happens.”
Now that the anxiety has subsided, it’s time for fans to be excited for him. The wait is over. The new starting quarterback for the Oregon Ducks is Marcus Mariota (pronounced: Mario-TAH) and I couldn’t be happier. Now I can sleep again.
Let the Marcus Mariota era begin!
Bryan Kalbrosky is a Featured Columnist for the Oregon Ducks. He also writes for the New York Mets and the Trends N Topics Team at Bleacher Report. He is a student of Journalism at the University of Oregon and designed and manages the Pit Crew Blog uopitcrew.tumblr.com. Be sure to follow him on Twitter to see more of this thoughts, opinions and stories.