Oklahoma QB Mayfield won’t start home finale after gesture
NORMAN, Okla.— Baker Mayfield’s on-the-field antics caught up with him this time.
Oklahoma’s senior quarterback will not start his final regular-season game Saturday at home against West Virginia after making a lewd gesture against Kansas. Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley also stripped Mayfield his captain status for the game, the result of which won’t keep the Sooners out of the Big 12 championship.
Riley made the announcements Monday.
Riley teared up as he explained why Mayfield was so important to him. Mayfield started both years that Riley was offensive coordinator and finished fourth in the Heisman balloting in 2015 and third last season. In Riley’s first year as head coach this season, Mayfield has played well enough to be considered by many to be the leader in the Heisman race.
“Coming to this decision, this being his last game here — sure, it’s emotional,” Riley said. “He and I have been tied together here for a long time. I get to see behind the scenes what the guy does, the things that aren’t in front of the cameras that the public doesn’t get to see, and I see how valuable he is to this team, this program again, this university, this community. He’s tremendous.
Kansas team captains did not shake hands with Mayfield before Saturday’s game. After getting slighted, Mayfield jawed with the Jayhawks and some fans seated behind the Oklahoma bench. He also grabbed his crotch and cursed the Kansas sideline from his bench during the third quarter of the Sooners’ 41-3 win. Mayfield apologized afterward.
Mayfield has a track record of doing things to annoy opponents. The past three years, he shaved his mustache into a horseshoe style before playing Oklahoma State, representing a new sheriff in town. Oklahoma won all three games. This season, he planted a crimson OU flag at the 50-yard line at Ohio State after a 31-16 victory . He told Baylor’s players he was their daddy and he was going to spank them before a 49-41 Oklahoma win.
Mayfield has brought out similar antics in opponents. An Iowa State player planted an Iowa flag in the middle of Owen Field after the Cyclones upset the Sooners this season. Riley said Mayfield has been the subject of enough late hits that he has brought it to the Big 12′s attention. And now, this.
“Bake’s a fierce competitor,” Oklahoma left tackle Orlando Brown said. “Everybody knows the type of player he is and the type of mentality that he approaches the game with, and I think that it’s something that I think some people try to hold over his head and try to get the best of him.”
Riley said he wants Mayfield to remain confident, the same guy who wore a Big 12 champion t-shirt under his jersey during last season’s game against Oklahoma State that determined the Big 12 champion.
“I want him to be himself and I told him that this morning,” Riley said. “The best thing about him is that he is himself. We’ve all got to stay true to ourselves. If we’re not that, we’re not anything, but we’ve all got to try to make ourselves better.”
Kyler Murray will start in Mayfield’s place. He has passed for 307 yards and rushed for 62 in limited action this season.
Kansas coach David Beaty apologized for himself and his captains and said Monday that he had spoken with Riley. Beaty also apologized to Jayhawks fans, saying he wasn’t aware the captains weren’t going to shake hands. Beaty said he knows his players are passionate and competitive, but they needed to make a better decision.
Beaty said he holds no ill will toward Mayfield.
“That guy is a phenomenal football player,” Beaty said. “What a terrific player he is. That guy made so many plays in that game and continues to do that. I know that he’s a great competitor, and I know that he, at the core of who is he, I know he’s a good young man. I wish nothing but the best for him. I think he has great things in his future.”