Monday’s football: Oklahoma’s Mayfield won’t start
Norman, Okla. — Oklahoma senior quarterback Baker Mayfield’s on-the-field antics caught up with him this time.
Mayfield 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.
“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 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.”
Mayfield, Penn State running back Saquon Barkley and Stanford running back Bryce Love are the finalists for the Maxwell Award given to college football’s top player.
Mayfield was also a finalist for the Davey O’Brien award that goes to the top quarterback, along with Mason Rudolph of Oklahoma State and J.T. Barrett of Ohio State. Noticeably absent from those finalists was Louisville’s Lamar Jackson, last season’s Heisman winner whose statistics have been even better this season.
Florida athletic director Scott Stricklin and school president Kent Fuchs were among of group of six who flew to Portsmouth, N.H., Sunday to meet with former Oregon coach Chip Kelly, The Orlando Sentinel reported.
... Dick Butkus is going back to college. One of the greatest linebackers in pro football history is being honored with a statute at Illinois, where he played three seasons and helped the Illini win the 1964 Rose Bowl.
The statue is expected to be completed in time for the 2019 season.
... West Virginia quarterback Will Grier has undergone surgery on a broken finger in his throwing hand and will miss four to six weeks.
Coach Dana Holgorsen did not explicitly rule out Grier for the Mountaineers’ bowl game but said coming back is “going to be kind of tough.”
... Kentucky coach Mark Stoops says starting tight end C.J. Conrad (foot) will miss the rest of the season.
... Bob Stitt is out as Montana’s football coach after three seasons.