This season, Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield has become one of the most polarizing figures in college football.
He is statistically one of the best at his position in all of college football. He can change the course of a game in an instant and has professional prospects drooling over his potential. It just so happens that Mayfield will be missing out on a key moment of his college career this week.
On Monday, OU head coach Lincoln Riley announced Mayfield will not start this weekend against West Virginia. This is Senior Day for the Sooners and Mayfield is one of the most decorated seniors for the team.
He is missing the start against West Virginia because of his actions against Kansas. The Sooners easily dispatched the Jayhawks last weekend, but the game drew more commentary because of what happened at midfield and on the sidelines.
Before the game, three Kansas captains refused to shake hands with Mayfield. They stood in a stoic manner with their hands and arms firmly behind their backs. When Mayfield reached across the logo on the 50-yard line, the Kansas captains simply looked down at the ground.
For Kansas, it was not a good look. In fact, it was pretty rude of them to do this, no matter what kind of reputation Mayfield has earned this season. Mayfield was scored for taunting Ohio State following a win in Columbus and even before the season started he was arrested for disorderly conduct, among other charges.
Anyway, Mayfield attempted to be rude back to Kansas during the game by swearing and making a led gesture. He later said he was sorry for his actions in a press conference and via Twitter.
From the game standpoint, it’s a shame that things turned out the way they did prior to the West Virginia game against Oklahoma. Neither Baker Mayfield nor WVU quarterback Will Grier will be starting this game. Grier won’t be playing at all following his injury in last week’s game against Texas.
The match up could have pinned two of the best quarterbacks in the country against each other with a potential spot in the Big 12 Championship Game on the line. The Sooners have already wrapped up their spot in the game, but had West Virginia not lost to Texas, it could have been playing for a title, too.
With Mayfield out, at least for the early portion of the game, West Virginia has a chance to make some noise in this game. The suspension may be a full quarter or just one possession, but the Mountaineers need to take advantage of the time without Mayfield. The defense needs to put pressure on the backup QB and get on the board when they do have the ball.
All in all, the time away for Mayfield is not that big of a deal. Coach Riley sent a message, but the penalty didn’t really fit the crime. It’s still a slap on the wrist, but Mayfield’s competitive nature of sticking up for himself didn’t really need to be brought up again.
West Virginia needed some kind of break to stand a chance against the fourth-ranked Sooners. Maybe a break for Mayfield is what the Mountaineers needed.