The dilemma facing Bob Stoops on what to do about Baker Mayfield is no dilemma at all.
Suspend him for the UTEP game on Sept. 2. Sit him out for the season opener.
It’s easy, really, a no-brainer.
Stoops benching his quarterback against the Miners for his arrest late Friday night in Fayetteville, Arkansas, would serve three purposes.
One, it would allow Stoops to take the moral high ground on maintaining his team’s discipline by suspending his starting quarterback for a game.
“We don’t discipline our players? I kicked one starting QB off the team for lying about NCAA violations, and I suspended a Heisman-contending QB for a game after he got drunk and was arrested in Arkansas. Of course we discipline our players.”
Two, it would give Stoops and the Sooner coaching staff a rare opportunity to see what OU’s backup quarterbacks are made of. Austin Kendall backed up Mayfield last season and got minimal mop-up duty, and Murray will have been out of action for almost two years since leaving Texas A&M.
And three, sitting out Mayfield in OU’s first game without Dede Westbrook, Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon creates an air of mystery about the Sooner offense for the following week’s opponent. How thorough can Ohio State’s scouting be if Mayfield doesn’t play against UTEP?
Let’s be clear about one thing: Mayfield won’t sit out the following week in Columbus.
OU has been living on Baker Mayfield time for going on three seasons now. Offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley doesn’t know what play-calling at Oklahoma is like without Mayfield running his offense.
So Stoops now has the perfect answer for critics who say he’s soft on discipline: punish Mayfield by sitting him out against UTEP, and in doing so, he’ll get a look at life without Mayfield.
There’s another complication to Mayfield’s situation.
Mayfield’s court date in Fayetteville is April 7. OU’s Red/White Game is April 8.
The OU student-athlete handbook cites Board of Regents policy 188.8.131.52 stipulating “any student-athlete charged with a crime committed while he/she is a student at OU … may not participate on athletic teams while charges are pending.”
Does that mean Mayfield can’t work out or practice with the team during spring practice?
Columnist John E. Hoover is co-host of “Further Review with Hoover & Rew” and can be heard every weekday on The Franchise in Tulsa from noon to 3 p.m. with co-host Lauren Rew. In Oklahoma City, catch him Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday mornings at 10:25 and every Friday afternoon at 4:05. Listen at fm107.7 in OKC, fm107.9/am1270 in Tulsa, on The Franchise app, or click the “Listen” tab on The Franchise home page.