Elite college football programs show unwavering class and respect in defeat and victory.
For Oregon, most of its players are doing their part. In fact, all but one of Oregon’s players appear to carry themselves with an elegance appropriate for a team that has a shot to play in consecutive BCS national championship games.
But running back De’Anthony Thomas doesn’t appear to be following that line of thought.
“I wouldn’t want to play us right now,” he told reporters earlier this week. “We scored the most points [on No. 1 LSU], so I feel like we deserve another chance to play against them again.”
Really? More so than No. 2 Oklahoma State at 10-0, with an offense just as imposing as yours?
Remember, it wasn’t so long ago that Thomas coughed up the football twice in the Ducks’ season opener against LSU.
It’s human nature that spurs a player to get ahead of himself like that, but it’s immaturity that prevents him from keeping it to himself. Oregon coach Chip Kelly and tailback LaMichael James, however, insisted their focus is on USC, not on LSU. Oregon has two regular season games left, including Saturday’s matchup against USC, but Thomas’ story would suggest an easy path to the BCS title game.
Though Thomas characterized his team’s matchup against the Trojans as “just another game,” you can bet it’s a lot more than that to him and his once-prospective teammates.
Yes, it was Los Angeles native and five-star recruit Thomas who committed to play for USC before mysteriously defecting to join Oregon in the 11th hour. If you’re a Trojan player, you’d have to be brain-dead to forget that.
In fairness, Thomas is likely not concerned with the Ducks’ public relations goals, but his comments regarding LSU presuppose that he’s quick to dismiss the Trojans as a legitimate threat to the Ducks — if only to taunt them a little bit.
The only redemption to be found in Thomas’ behavior is the reassurance it was the right move for both sides for him to play at Oregon.
The Trojans still have a chance, however, to show Thomas what he missed.
USC’s leaders show a special sensitivity to improper behavior — with a mind on the lack of control just a few years ago.
It’s interesting: The sanctions that were likely the driving force behind Thomas’ departure from the university are what created the structured environment at USC that would have been great for him. And he’ll get a taste of what this discipline yields on Saturday.
USC will face improbable odds Saturday, and some would say Las Vegas’ appraisal of the Trojans’ chances isn’t bleak enough, especially now that sophomore receiver Robert Woods might not play.
But my downward outlook on USC’s shot of defeating Stanford last month has taught me to not be so negative this time around. Oregon, however, certainly seems to be an even better team than Stanford was.
If USC can stay fresh and stop Oregon on third downs, it’s capable of anything, especially with the extra motivation to stick it to Thomas for abandoning the program.
“Suicide Blitz” runs Thursdays. To comment on this article, visit dailytrojan.com or email Danny at email@example.com.