Oklahoma Coach Lincoln Riley has punished his quarterback, Heisman hopeful Baker Mayfield, in the wake of an embarrassing moment in which he cursed at Kansas players and grabbed his crotch in the Sooners’ win Saturday.
Although there were a number of calls for a suspension, Riley stopped short of that, announcing instead that Mayfield would not start Saturday against West Virginia, although he will play in the game. Nor will he be a team captain.
“We all know what provoked it,” Riley told reporters, “but it’s something that cannot happen and stand by.”
Mayfield, who completed 20 of 30 passes for 257 yards and three touchdowns against the Jayhawks, apologized immediately after the game. Mayfield’s actions in the third quarter were directed at Kansas players and arose from a display of poor sportsmanship by the Jayhawks, whose captains refused to shake his hand at the pregame coin toss. The Jayhawks also delivered a late hit on Mayfield in the first half. In reference to Kansas’ one victory, he yelled, “Go cheer on basketball!” to a heckler. Kansas Coach David Beaty had called his players’ reaction “unacceptable.”
“I got caught up in a competitive game, a chippy game, but what I did was unacceptable,” Mayfield said. “I apologize. It’s disrespectful. It’s not the example I want to set. It’s not the legacy I want to leave at OU. I truly do apologize. Thinking about the kids that are watching this now, it’s not something I want to do to the parents out there. I’m sorry.”
Mayfield followed that up with an apology on Twitter. “I am extremely sorry for how I carried myself today. I am sorry to the Kansas fans, coaches and players for disrespecting them. I am sorry to Sooner fans for not representing our University the way I should. I am sorry to any parent that had their kid(s) watching . . . I was not the good and inspiring role model that I aspire to be. What I did was unacceptable and in turn it has taken the attention off of our team. Not to mention my solo act reflects poorly on my team/program . . . Which is the opposite of what I want to do. I want my teammates and coaches to get all the attention and credit for working hard and having success. I am sorry to my brothers and coaches as well. I am an extremely competitive person once on the field, but that does not excuse and never will excuse my actions today. I truly am sorry from the bottom of my heart.”
Mayfield has started 37 straight games since 2014 and taking the start from him was, Riley said, “difficult.” He did not specify how long Mayfield would remain on the sideline. Kyler Murray is expected to start in Mayfield’s place.
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