Many sports have seasons when the best teams win. Many sports have seasons when the Cinderella wins. Sometimes a sport has off-field excitement, sometimes there are boring blowout wins, and sometimes there are last second plays that span generations. And sometimes, if we are lucky, we get CHARACTERS in the mix. I don’t mean just solid players who do amazing things on the field. I don’t mean stat lines or color quotes or any of that. And I don’t mean when the media has to create, find, or manipulate the story to make us think we have characters. I mean CHARACTERS that make the game FUN. And sometimes, if we are really, really lucky, those CHARACTERS are also the best player on the field putting up those amazing stats. This year is one of those years.
Baker Mayfield grew up in Austin, TX. Three star recruits don’t go to Texas typically I hear, even when Texas is not exactly lighting it up these days. And, by one path or the other, he ended up at Texas Tech. Just to TRY and not be an under the radar story like he ended up, the kid threw for 413 and 4 TD’s in his FIRST game at the helm. Injuries derailed his season though, and miscommunication with coaches, and thus he transferred. He would not be denied at OU, even if he had to pretty much knock on the door of Bob Stoops to get noticed. He won the open competition for the QB spot, and promptly threw for 388 and 3 TD’s in his first game THERE. Noticed yet?
He then started re-writing some record books. Folks, take his stats over FOUR years and he has over 14k in yardage and a 68.6% completion percentage. That is absurd consistency.
He even has a rule named after him. The Baker Mayfield Rule (2016 rule) allows walk-ons with no scholarship to transfer WITHIN a conference and not lose a year of eligibility. And THANK you for that rule, powers that be. If that hadn’t happened, we wouldn’t have had this 2017 wonder year as Baker would have run out of years. Heisman, Walter Camp, Maxwell, Davey O’Brien. Check, check, check, check.
Oh, and he is the first walk-on to win the Heisman by the way.
Needless to say, he has a chip on his shoulder and plays the game with FIRE. Fans like fire, although sometimes that image makes us pick one side of the fence or the other. Good. Love or hate. Manziel comparisons because of this “fire?” Shove it. You can ask coaches and teammates, and THIS kid is a workout junkie and film student. Public intoxication charges, flag planting on other team’s 50 yard lines, and crotch grabs DO exist. Problem with that? You ever been young once? You ever make a few poor decisions? Thought so (and if you haven’t, you are kind of jealous I bet).
The NFL combine is going to be exciting BECAUSE of him, in that some managers will already write the kid off, others will wait until they get in a room with him to decide, and the final group CAN’T WAIT to talk to him up close and personal. Some will be scared he will be a side show. A few possible smart people will want him to be the face of their franchise. Sure, he is only 6’1″. Two old school guys with similarities would beg to differ. Doug Flutie was 5’10”. Fran Tarkenton was 6’0″. Scrambling QB’s that did OK I hear. Heisman Trophy winners AND Big 12 QB’s typically aren’t long term guarantees in the NFL. This one might just be different.
I am a Steelers fan and should be excited about Kirk Cousins if Ben retires, but there IS a part of me who wants MY team to have THAT kid (that would be too many OU QB’s on one team though of course).
This New Year’s Day, we have four VERY good teams. Actually, aside from you SEC haters who despise two teams from the same conference being in the playoff, we probably have the four best teams left. On the other side, you have teams where the coaches get most of the press. Swinney is the southern speaking enthusiast who quite frankly is very hard to hate. Saban is Darth Vader, who whatever you say, makes the show better and more fun. Easy to dislike. It will be Part III of those admittedly EPIC battles between Clemson and Bama. That is pretty fancy. But, on the other side, you have a SOLID UGA team going up against OU, with a kid who probably wants this more than the whole UGA team combined. He is feisty, arrogant, and abrasive. Then, just when you think you want to hate him, he is polite on the mic, and apologizes whole heartedly when he does something wrong. He is genuine and REAL. And, just to really scare the heck out of you, he happens to be pretty darn good on the field too.
UGA seems to have All-American RB’s in a huge stable in Athens. Kirby Smart is a good, relatively experienced coach. And they have a freshman QB who isn’t too shabby. And OU has a sometimes leaking defense with a coordinator most fans want to fire, the first ever first year coach to make the playoff, and an Iowa State home loss that made some Sooners fans lose it. But, I believe the D will bend and not break, the first year coach will make the right moves by letting his players PLAY, and the Iowa State loss will become but a distant memory. Plus, as a side note, I think Rodney Anderson has game speed that is ridiculous but that is neither here nor there. But, there is more. Baker’s quickness will get to the UGA defense. He will go to the big play early, connect on one or two, and UGA will be playing catchup in the second quarter. The Sooners have a walk-on QB who has never quit up to this point after a million no’s, and sure as heck isn’t about to start now. They have a leader his teammates would literally run through the wall for, and us fans have a CHARACTER to root for or against. THAT is what will make this playoff special.
I am going to the Rose Bowl to watch Baker in action. By the time I write another blog, he might be done and UGA will have moved on. And then you can tell The Fillerbuster how he was dreaming. But, I have seen enough Sooner games this season (all of them pretty much) to know…I highly doubt it. Go ahead. Doubt Baker. I dare you, and so does he. This is Baker’s Game.
38-23 is my guess.
SIDE NOTE 1: It is true I married into a Sooners family, but pretty damn sure I would be rooting for him even if I hadn’t.
SIDE NOTE 2: I went to see Molly’s Game today. Before the movie, I had this theme idea. Oddly, I didn’t see the end of the movie, as Lindsey got a migraine and we had to leave. But, I WILL do a full movie recap when I see it when back in CO. And the first half of the movie was AWESOME. I also had no idea that Molly Bloom is Jeremy’s brother and from Loveland, CO.
SIDE NOTE 3: You can look into my old blogs, people. I TOLD everyone OU would still make the playoff the week after the Iowa State game.
Hope you enjoyed or are at least more informed. Will I blog again? That is a CLOWN question, bro. peace.