Baker Mayfield’s punishment is fair and just; Heisman still his

LAWRENCE, KS - NOVEMBER 18: Quarterback Baker Mayfield
LAWRENCE, KS - NOVEMBER 18: Quarterback Baker Mayfield /

Baker Mayfield has been making success-story headlines all season, but the news he generated after the Sooners’ win over Kansas belongs among the lowlights.

Sooner fans are well aware that you get both the good and the bad with Mayfield’s hyped up personality and fiery competitive spirit. He is a real gamer, as they say, and with his enormous talent and uncanny ability to keep plays alive and turn potential tackles for loss into big plays downfield, you are willing to live with some of his more disagreeable actions.

It’s just Baker being Baker.

His actions in the Kansas game last weekend, however, crossed the line. That is something that no one can or will deny. And that includes Mayfield.

On Monday, we all learned the consequences the Sooner superstar will face for his on-the-field indiscretions against an unworthy opponent that managed to get under his skin in a very ugly way.

Mayfield will not start in the Sooners final home game of the season, and his final collegiate game on Owen Field, on Senior Day on Saturday. In addition, the OU quarterback has been stripped of his captaincy for Saturday’s game against West Virginia.

In making the announcement during his weekly press conference on Monday, head coach Lincoln Riley did not specify how long Mayfield would sit and watch on Saturday, but he did indicate he would play.

Mayfield addressed reporters during Monday’s press conference, two full days after the now universally reported crotch-grabbing, foul language tirade by the Oklahoma quarterback:

"“The big thing for me is the legacy I want to leave,” he said. “I’ve been thinking about the people I let down. It’s been tough thinking about.“I’ve always been a person that wants to set a good example…My actions on Saturday didn’t show that. It’s been 48 hours of regret.”"

Now that the punishment has been announced, the public relations fallout from the incident will continue on for a few more days, and there are no doubt people who feel that the OU response is too little and others who will argue that it is too much, given the seriousness of the crime, or lack thereof.

Oklahoma Sooners Football
Oklahoma Sooners Football /

Oklahoma Sooners Football

Knowing how much the University of Oklahoma, and the football program in particular, means to Mayfield, not being able to start in his final home game and not being able to lead his team as a captain in front of the home crowd one last time, on Senior Day, is a huge deal and regret to Baker. And something he won’t be able to get back.

In this sense, the consequences are fair and just and an appropriate sacrifice for Mayfield to have to make under the circumstances. For those who are of the opinion that the penalty should stiffer, I say you are overreacting and overreaching, or simply just don’t like Baker Mayfield.

Repercussions were necessary and warranted. Mayfield, himself, acknowledges as much. But in considering the consequences, Riley wanted to be careful not to punish the entire team and what it had worked for solely because of the lack of good judgment by one individual.

Mayfield has started 37 consecutive games at quarterback at Oklahoma since walking on to the program in 2014. The Sooners have won 32 of those 37 games. His unabashed belief in himself and his teammates, his refuse-to-lose mind set and his exemplary leadership have been integral to Oklahoma’s football success in winning 86 percent of its games since Mayfield became the starting quarterback.

All of these attributes, though, do not excuse Mayfield’s repugnant actions in the Kansas game. He needs to know – and the sad truth is he does – that when you are in the public spotlight, which he clearly is, you need to be especially mindful of your words and actions, no matter how excitable or irritated you become.

Some are saying the latest episode in the World According to Baker Mayfield will cost the Heisman Trophy front runner votes when the ballots are cast after this weekend.

This could happen, sure, but the overwhelming belief is that the Sooner quarterback is so far ahead of his challengers that it would only reduce the margin of his Heisman win, not the outcome of the voting itself.