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BAKER MAYFIELD: The most entertaining quarterback in college football

Kyle Robertson / Columbus Dispatch
Baker Mayfield prepares to plant the OU flag in the turf at Ohio Stadium.
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OKLAHOMA CITY – Several months, before earning a starting spot as Oklahoma’s quarterback, Baker Mayfield performed a dance that went viral on the Internet. He busted some moves that were wild but had rhythm. Kind of like the way he plays football for the Sooners.

“When I was little, me and mom used to dance to the Jackson 5 in our living room, but now it’s kind of goofy,” Mayfield said.

Goofier than that, the Lake Travis High School product left Texas Tech after one year to walk on the OU football team. A program that had an incumbent quarterback (Trevor Knight) light up Alabama’s defense like Joe Montana lit up Super Bowl foes. Mayfield was the Freshman Offensive Player of the Year for the 2013 season at Tech. But due to miscommunication with the football staff, he decided to leave Lubbock, Texas and crossed the Red River to Norman.

Knight struggled in 2014 while Mayfield ran the scout team as he was not eligible until a year later. Mayfield beat out Knight as the starter for 2015. Baker led the Sooners to a Big 12 Championship and the College Football Playoffs. He earned All-American honors and was named Big 12 Conference Offensive Player of the Year.

Through an appeal to the NCAA, and approval from the Big 12 Conference, Mayfield got an extra year eligibility in a Crimson uniform. He led the Sooners to another Big 12 title in 2016, but no college playoff bid since OU lost two of its first two games. Ohio State embarrassed Oklahoma, 45-24, in Norman. Baker had his worst game throwing two picks, and he was sacked three times.

“We’re going to have to find our identity as a team,” Mayfield explained. “Backs against the wall. Not in a good position, 1-2, not how it should be here at Oklahoma. But we’ll find our identity and fight back.”

Fight back they did. Mayfield guided the Sooners to 10 straight wins. He finished the season with a NCAA record 196.4 pass efficiency rating by completing 254 of 358 passing attempts for 3,965 yards with 40 touchdowns and 8 interceptions.  During the 10-game streak, his efficiency rating was 206.

The past two years, he’s been in the hunt for the Heisman Trophy finishing fourth in 2015 and third a year ago. 2017 might be Mayfield’s year to take home the coveted trophy. His efficiency through two games is 228.8. Baker completed all but one of his 20 passes for 329 yards and 3 TDs in just one half against Texas El Paso in the season opener, a 56-7 victory. The following week, he destroyed the No. 2 Buckeyes in a rematch by completing 27 of 35 for 386 yards and 3 TDs. He hasn’t thrown a single pick in two games. Fifth-ranked Oklahoma left Columbus last Saturday with a 31-16 victory.

Mayfield plays with vigorous emotion that he’s as fun to watch on the gridiron as he is busting dance moves. He’s elusive and makes plays many inexperienced quarterbacks cannot achieve. After throwing a long touchdown pass to one of his receivers, he will sprint to the end zone to congratulate his teammate.

“We all feed off him,” said Oklahoma defensive coordinator Mike Stoops. “Coaches, players. He’s an unbelievable leader, an incredible player. I’ve never seen another guy like him.”

NFL analyst Daniel Jeremiah believes Mayfield is the most entertaining player in college football.

“He just runs around and makes all kinds of plays. He can create time, he can create space, and he’s a very accurate thrower,” Jeremiah said.

Saturday night after stunning Ohio State, Mayfield was so excited that he grabbed the huge OU flag from a Ruf-Nek and trotted around Ohio Stadium waving it. He headed to midfield where he planted the banner in the middle of Ohio State’s scarlet and gray “O” logo—right through the heart of Buckeye faithful.

It didn’t sit well with a current and former Buckeye stars.

“He knew to wait until we went into the locker room to pull this one off,” tweeted running back Mike Weber.

Someone needs to tell Weber that losing teams don’t hang around the field after a loss.

ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit, an OSU alum, who called the game Saturday night, let his displeasure be known on Monday’s Dan Patrick Show.

“That was probably a little uncalled for,” Herbstreit, said.

“I think they’re underreacting to how he played. I think they’re over-reacting to the flag incident after the game,” Patrick said during his show.

Mayfield apologized during Monday’s OU press conference.

“It was an emotional game, and after the game, I did not mean for it to be disrespectful toward any Ohio State people at all especially not the team or the players because they’re a great team and a great program, so I didn’t mean it to be disrespectful at all. I got caught up in an emotional win. I apologize for doing it in the middle of the field.”

I turned to a handful of longtime Sooner fans, aficionados of the game, to ask if they liked or were embarrassed by what Mayfield did after last Saturday's game.

Morton Weir thought it was “cool.”

“Society is getting way too sensitive,” Weir said. “I see he has apologized this morning. Not necessary! Someone said if Baker wants to apologize, he should say he’s sorry to the Ohio State secondary.”

“I don’t think it was that big if a deal,” said Bob Branum. “Most of the Ohio State fans didn’t even see it. They were gone by the time he did that.”

Most of the Buckeye fans had indeed emptied the stadium long before the final gun Saturday night.

Jim Roberts believes that “payback is a bitch” referring to when the Ohio State players and fans who sang their fight song on Owen Field after last year’s game.

“It’s not like our guys sat down during the National Anthem,” Roberts explained. “I’m good with what Baker did. People need to grow some thicker skin and quit the whining.”

Bob Hamilton agreed with Roberts about payback from the Buckeyes’ celebration last year.

“I thought it was cool,” said Hamilton, who attended the game. “I don’t think he would have done it had not the OSU fans started their chant last year while we were playing at home. One of the local radio personalities said ‘if you are a fan of Michigan, you loved it. If you were an Ohio State fan, then you would not be happy about what he did.’”

Jim Bridge makes the handful of opinions unanimous.

“I thought it was okay,” he said.  “I was certainly not embarrassed.  Baker remembered how he felt when Ohio State gathered on our field to sing the school song.  No one seemed to give us a chance in this game, so his emotions were running high.”

Baker Mayfield isn’t going to corral his excitement especially if the Sooners beat Texas next month. You see, Lake Travis High sits on the western edge of Austin, the heart of Longhorn football. When OU defeated Texas last year, Mayfield ran around the south side of the Cotton Bowl, waved the OU flag and staked it near the Longhorns’ sideline long after the Texas players had exited the field.

“It’s special to me,” Mayfield said after OU’s 45-40 victory last year. “I grew up in Austin, so I know what this rivalry is all about. I’ve been waiting a long time to finally get a win against these guys.”

Baker Mayfield could go down in history as the Sooners’ greatest quarterback, especially if he wins a national championship. Wonder how he will cap that victory?

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About the Author

Ray Dozier

Ray Dozier is the author of Legends of Oklahoma Sooners Football and two editions of The...

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About Red Dirt Report

Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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