After the least eventful Saturday (on the field) of the college football season, the Oklahoma Sooners annihilated the Kansas Jayhawks and are officially down to one final regular season bout against the West Virginia Mountaineers. Coming into Monday’s press conference, many wondered about the hot topic of the weekend — how Lincoln Riley would address Baker Mayfield’s “incident”.
Lincoln Riley announces that QB Baker Mayfield won't be a captain for this game and he won't start. He will play.— Brooke Pryor (@bepryor) November 20, 2017
This is significant for a couple reasons. One reason is that Mayfield has started every game for the Sooners since he was named the starting quarterback. Another reason is that he will be stripped of his captain status for this game, which is a tremendous honor for all the captains. It’s fairly obvious that this punishment was put in place to appease others. Anything more would have too harsh, especially on Senior Day. But Mayfield will continue to grow and learn, and it does send a message to the rest of the team as well.
No Baker Mayfield news conference this morning. He'll address media after tonight's practice. #Sooners— Eric Bailey (@EricBaileyTW) November 20, 2017
Beyond all of that, there was some talk about the upcoming contest against West Virginia, Senior Day for the Sooners and more in Monday’s presser:
Riley stands up for Baker Mayfield
In what was the most attention-grabbing moment of the press conference, head coach Lincoln Riley was overcome with emotion during his opening statement when talking about his quarterback, Baker Mayfield. In the three seasons Riley has been in Norman, he has built a close bond with Mayfield. That bond revealed itself when Riley stood up for Mayfield and expressed his compassion for the heavily scrutinized QB:
“No matter how long I go coaching, whatever the rest of my career ends up being like, I don’t know if I’ll ever have a player that’s as special to me as he is, and...”
Riley then took about 30 seconds to compose himself, which demonstrates how strong the bond between coach and QB is.
“And we’ve been through a lot together. He’s a tremendous teammate. He’s the best football player in America. He’s got a great heart that a lot of people don’t get the chance to see like I do, and I’m proud as hell to be his coach.”
Riley on if Mayfield’s Heisman chances are affected
Coach was asked if the recent incident surrounding Baker Mayfield will affect his chance at winning the Heisman Trophy. Coming into the weekend, Mayfield led all candidates by a wide margin, and his play on the field certainly did nothing to take away from that. It is a fair question to ponder, but one we won’t know the answer to until the end of the ceremony on December 9th. Coach shared his thoughts:
“Difficult for me to say. I know the kid good enough to know that he’s a really good person. I think if we’re judging the Heisman on kids that haven’t made mistakes we’re going to have a hard time finding very many candidates. Baker’s a good person. He’s never done anything to hurt anybody. He’s owned up to his mistakes like a young man should, and I think in that way he’s been a great example.”
I honestly don’t think this whole thing will make any difference as far as the Heisman is concerned.
Riley on the injury situation
Coach Riley announced that there were no new injuries coming out of last weekend’s game. He also said that the status of CB Jordan Thomas is still undetermined and he will continue to be evaluated.
Riley on outside criticism of Mayfield’s punishment
Coach was asked about if he is prepared to handle the national criticism of his punishment for Baker Mayfield. With Mayfield losing his status as a captain for this weekend, on top of not starting the game, some outside the program will say (and have already said) that the only punishment that should be acceptable is a full game suspension. Coach Riley was firm in his response:
“I’ve got big shoulders. I’m confident in what we’re doing, confident in my decision, and we’re going to go forward with it and not look back.”
Full Press Conference Links:
Brown says it's too early to talk about his status moving forward after this season when asked if Saturday will be his final game at Owen Field. #Sooners— Tyler Palmateer (@Tpalmateer83) November 20, 2017
Orlando Brown has long been considered one of the top offensive tackle prospects heading into the next NFL draft. Brown has one year of collegiate eligibility remaining if he decides to stay at OU. He said that it’s too early for him to make a decision at this moment, and only time will tell.
Riley says he hasn’t decided if another player will serve as a captain in Mayfield’s place or if OU will just use three captains— Ryan Aber (@ryaber) November 20, 2017
This is interesting, and I certainly wouldn’t have a problem with Riley going either way on this one. I say let the players decide. It could provide a fun moment for another senior to be named a captain for his final home game.
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