Baker Mayfield is well on his way to legendary status at The University of Oklahoma. He’s already lead the Sooners to an appearance in the College Football Playoff, garnered enough votes to become a Heisman finalist, and, on Monday, can orchestrate a take down of another SEC opponent in the Sugar Bowl for Bob Stoops. All this and Mayfield STILL has a year to go.
Winning a National Championship would make fans speak about Baker Mayfield in the same hushed tones as Steve Davis, Jamelle Holieway, Thomas Lott and Jack Mildren. Even without a Heisman Trophy, he could pass Jason White and Sam Bradford on the legend scale for a lot of OU fans. Let’s take a look at how Mayfield and the Sooner program got here.
First, there is a debt of gratitude Bob Stoops owes to Kliff Kingsbury. If Kingsbury had simply given Baker a scholarship, Mayfield would most likely have stayed in Lubbock. Who knows if he would have beat out Pat Mahomes for the starting job and he still may have left the Red Raiders, but there are no guarantees that Mayfield would end up in Norman.
Second, the Sooners have mismanaged quarterbacks ever since Landry Jones went to the Steelers. Start with Trevor Knight who got one shining moment against Alabama in the Sugar Bowl; beyond that, Josh Heupel never let him be himself and Knight made one costly mistake after another. By 2014 he was on the outs with the fans, and, most undeservedly, with the coaching staff who put him in that position.
OU also relegated Blake Bell to a goal-line only threat. The Belldozer was a hell of a lot of fun to watch, but Bell showed he could lead a team into action in Stillwater, guiding an underdog Sooner team to a win over OSU that would set up Trevor Knight to beat Bama. Bell finished his career at OU as a tight end.
Along the way, Justice Hansen from Edmond Santa Fe split to find success at Arkansas State and Kendall Thompson was on the first thing smoking when Knight won the starting job after the Sugar Bowl. He wound up in Utah starting only three games in two years and ultimately was not that great a loss.
A cocksure Mayfield showed up on campus during this time, and, while Josh Heupel was working himself out of a job by misusing Knight, Stoops had Lincoln Riley on speed dial. A previous relationship between the the OC and QB, plus Riley’s offense seeming to be tailored for Mayfield’s skill set, was a match made in football heaven.
Stoops, Riley and Mayfield have all benefited from this strange yet seemingly “meant to be” set of circumstances. In the end, what matters is how you play the hand you’re dealt. Mayfield is making the most of his opportunities and is well on his way to building a generation of fans who will see him in the same rosy glow that we see the legendary QBs who have come before.