Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield won the Heisman Trophy by a landslide, and everything he did on the field led to his decisive win.
Mayfield’s 71 completion percentage, 4,340 yards passing and 41 touchdowns are all Heisman worthy numbers, and the fact that he led the Sooners to a New Year’s date against Georgia in the College Football Playoff semifinals is another feather in his crimson headband.
The creativity and energy he brought to the field supplied the ‘wow’ factor that burned an impression in the Heisman voters’ minds, much like 2011 winner Robert Griffin III and 2012 winner Johnny Manziel.
But here’s some other impressions of Mayfield that I can’t forget:
Drilling an unsuspecting TCU football player with the ball as he was running out on the field for pregame warmups.
Telling Baylor players during warmups they “forgot who their daddy is” and he was going to have to spank them.
Making lewd gestures to the Kansas players after they refused to shake his hand during the pregame coin toss and yelling profanities toward Jayhawks fans.
Wearing a shirt that read “TRAITOR” before playing Texas Tech, the school where he walked on before transferring to Oklahoma.
Then there was the incident last February when he was arrested for public intoxication, disorderly conduct, fleeing and resisting arrest in Fayetteville, Ark.
Mayfield definitely wasn’t in midseason form when he tried to run. The police officer who arrested him should have been nominated for the Butkus Award after a perfect tackle that took Mayfield to the ground.
The Heisman mission statement says the trophy should go to the player “whose performance best exhibits the pursuit of excellence with integrity.”
When I read that sentence, I picture 1963 Heisman winner Roger Staubach or 1977 winner Earl Campbell.
I don’t picture Baker Mayfield. That’s why I couldn’t vote for him as the winner.
I chose Stanford running back Bryce Love first, Mayfield second, and Louisville quarterback and 2016 Heisman winner Lamar Jackson third.
I didn’t think Mayfield’s antics were egregious enough to keep him completely off the ballot, but you’d like to see a little more sportsmanship and class out of your Heisman winner.
Mayfield’s coaches and teammates all swear by him, saying he’s simply a highly competitive player who wears his emotions on his sleeve and is really a good guy.
“He’s a kid,” said Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley. “Young people make mistakes and they’ve got to learn and grow from it. Baker is no different. He’s certainly got to be held accountable and learn from his actions. He does a lot of great things in this community off the field, and I’ve been proud to coach him. He’s a special player and person and has been great for this university.”
The only thing Mayfield has done more this year than throw touchdown passes and win football games is apologize for his antics.
I bought his apologies during Big 12 media days when he talked about much he learned from his February arrest, and the humility he gained from doing community service. I could just imagine the surprise from people in the Norman area when Mayfield showed up at their doors delivering Meals on Wheels.
I was so sold on Mayfield that I picked him as the Heisman winner in the Tribune-Herald’s Big 12 season preview magazine.
I was still willing to give him the benefit of the doubt after he planted an Oklahoma flag in the middle of Ohio State’s field after a big win over the Buckeyes in September. I chalked that up to college exuberance.
But the comments to the Baylor players, the lewd gestures against Kansas, and the pregame targeting against TCU showed me that Mayfield just can’t help himself.
If they revive the MTV show “Punk’d” Mayfield could play the lead role.
The Big 12 finally took some action by reprimanding Mayfield after the Kansas incident, and Riley didn’t start him and stripped him of his captaincy for his final home game against West Virginia.
“Mr. Mayfield’s actions are unacceptable and should not be tolerated,” Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby said.
Hopefully, Mayfield will mature for his own survival as he enters the NFL. Veteran NFL defensive players won’t tolerate his juvenile behavior. I could see them reacting a little more violently than refusing to shake hands with him.