After leaving New York City finishing third in the Heisman voting last year, Baker Mayfield’s luck could change this time around. As arguably (ed. note: no argument) the best quarterback in Oklahoma history, Mayfield set college football’s top mark for passer rating over the past two seasons. And yet, for all the outstanding accomplishments, people have taken an interest in the Austin, Texas native’s raw, uncanny and at some times unpredictable nature.
Mayfield’s ego is one of a fired-up, ride-or-die field general. For better or for worse, he has lead the Sooner to no less than 11 win seasons the past three years, but has yet to walk away with a national championship. Mayfield’s swagger breeds confidence used towards mentally destroying opponents, acting beyond showing simple emotion and sometimes over-the-top. He may run away with not just the Heisman this year, but everyone’s admiration or respect.
The Sooners’ controversial playmaker has sparked discussion about his antics both on and off the field. Trouble has followed Mayfield in past years with the latest mishap consisting of him taunting Kansas players. A groin grab along with shouting the words “F—- You” three times is what the sports world caught a glimpse of from Baker two weeks ago. All due to opposing players refused to shake his hand prior to the coin toss and multiple cheap shots towards the quarterback throughout the game. Mayfield apologized for the incident and was stripped of his captaincy for his final game in Norman.
“Baker’s the best cheerleader we got”, former OU coach Barry Switzer said about Mayfield’s so-called antics. “Baker Mayfield is the engine, he’s the excitement, he elevates the play of our football team tremendously.”
“I’m not defending (Baker’s) actions. I just know when you have an action, you have a reaction,” Switzer explained. “There’s not time to meditate on, Well, should I do this and should I not? You react when a guy slaps you, if you’re a fighter and a competitior, you’re going you knock the hell out of him, you’re not going to think about the consequences.”
Baker’s performance on the field has quieted his critics throughout his time in Norman. The Austin, Texas native didn’t receive the list of offer he had hoped for and started in 2013 as a walk-on at Big 12 rival Texas Tech before transferring to Oklahoma at the start of his sophomore season.
The 22-year old senior put together a fantastic career with a total 14,077 passing yards (10th in FBS), 125 touchdowns (6th in FBS) and 29 interceptions. Mayfield’s second attempt for a Heisman and a possible national championship run for the Sooners is the reason he returned to Norman, rewriting the Big 12 and OU record books in the process. In Big 12 conference history, Mayfield ranks first in yards per attempt (9.8), second in pass efficiency (175.5) and passing touchdowns, third in passing yards and total offense, fifth in completion percentage (.687), and eighth in passing attempts (1,439).
Many believe Mayfield could join Sam Bradford and Jason White as the third Oklahoma quarterback to hoist college football’s best trophy in two weeks. The only thing weighing on the minds of Heisman voters are all the negatives— an arrest back in February of this year for public intoxication along with fleeing law enforcement and the “flag plant” after the game against Ohio State are two prime example of reason why some will, pettily, move their vote elsewhere. For the rest of the general population that look past the imperfections, Baker’s argument is a strong one.
“What would deter me from voting for him other than having a great year statistically?” That’s Switzer’s question to Heisman Voters. “Baker Mayfield had an outstanding season. He’s a great player — tremendous accuracy, great velocity on the ball, hard to get a hold of, and he can make play after play after play.”
Baker admitted the two reasons he returned to Norman was the lifelong dream of chasing a Heisman Trophy and guiding the Sooners to a national championship. In the minds of many, OU’s can make both of those a reality with a win on Saturday and an additional two afterwards.