NORMAN, Oklahoma -- After the worst moment of his college career, Baker Mayfield didn’t have to be coached up.
Oklahoma’s quarterback knew what to do. Three days after being arrested last month for public intoxication, disorderly conduct, fleeing the scene and resisting arrest, Mayfield posted a long heart-felt apology on Twitter.
“It was,” Mayfield said of his conduct, “instant regret.”
He proved it on Tuesday when the Heisman Trophy finalist met with reporters for the first time since his arrest. The setting was the first day of spring practice when renewal and football are already in the air.
Mayfield’s total and complete remorse should be a blueprint for all past and future knuckleheads in the college space: This is what contrition looks like without the lawyers and handlers and hiding and dodging.
To sum up, Mayfield owned it Tuesday. By doing so, he poured water on what could have become a raging fire. There were no half measures or ducking behind FERPA.
The kid already knew any privacy he might have enjoyed in the matter was lost when the.
Given his football elusiveness, it may have been the hardest Mayfield has been hit. And yes, he’s heard all the jokes.
“I saw Barry Switzer’s tweet; It was pretty funny, I’ll be honest,” Mayfield said.
In that moment, a scrambling quarterback proved he was also a stand-up guy.
“I did it to myself,” he said.
It was show over, nothing to see here. We can move on to talking about Heismans and championships. Mayfield has his mind right, meaning the Sooners are the team we thought they were.
Mostly, Mayfield is the man we hoped he was.
The quarterback standing before the media Tuesday was the most efficient passer in football last season. Unless his game falls off the edge of the Earth, Mayfield most likely will finish in the top 10 career in that category.
Tuesday after practice, it was OK to start thinking about those things again. A fallen hero began to right himself.
“Honestly, the person that was most mad about that video was my girlfriend,” Mayfield said. “I wish I could have said, ‘No, that’s not me getting bodyslammed.’ I knew the video was going to blow up.”
America loves to forgive almost as much as it loves to share viral videos. The likes of Jameis Winston and Johnny Manzeil never got that. Hell, Oklahoma has had a hard time getting it. This is the school that welcomed/retained Dorial Green-Beckham and Joe Mixon.
Mayfield, the ol’ Shelf Elf, was easy to root for before this. His actions since his arrest have not made that any harder.
At a school where Brian Bosworth once courted a bad-boy persona, Mayfield wants to reshape his.
“I was a little kid once, and I looked up to those guys,” he said. “Maybe … get back to being a role model. Maybe get back [to those kids] rocking my jersey.”
When will they learn -- all of them -- that video don’t lie? Mayfield isn’t the last celebrity to be involved in a night of revelry. But this isn’t nearly as big a story if we hadn’t seen his fall from grace.
There’s a reason TMZ thrives.
The state’s two best quarterbacks are friends and have been on spring break together.
“Listen,” Rudolph said after seeing the video, “it’s not in Norman, brother.”
Advice taken. Mayfield has a hearing April 7, the day before Oklahoma’s spring game. Coach Bob Stoops said he will assign discipline after that.
Two spring breaks ago, the quarterbacks were buds in a Destin, Florida, beach house that featured 22 Sooners and Cowboys, the population split down the middle.
“It makes the rivalry even that much more better,” Rudolph said. “You’re hanging out with these guys in Destin. It makes the shit talkin’ that much better.
“People think we don’t want that, it takes away from the rivalry when they see pictures [of us]. But hey, I think it only enhances the rivalry because we hate those guys that much more.”
That group reportedly included Mixon, who has his own video to live down. The situations are vastly different. Mixon’s first meaningful public apology came after more than two years with the NFL Draft looming and video of his despicable act finally being released publicly for the first time.
“I wanted to get it out there and let people know how I genuinely felt before they got their spin on it,” Mayfield said.
The approach was better for everybody. If the Big 12 hadn’t reconsidered last summer, Mayfield might already be headed to the draft.
In the space of one June day, the Big 12 basicallyafter the 2016 season. , giving Mayfield another year of eligibility in 2017.
The quarterback, the school and the conference benefitted. With an unfavorable ruling, Mayfield said he would not have transferred as a graduate student to another school for a final year of eligibility in 2017.
It was OU -- the school he grew up loving -- or nothing.
“I wouldn’t have had a decision,” Mayfield said. “I would have had to go to the NFL.”
You should know the soul of the Sooners has been voted a team captain. Let’s hope the episode only briefly distracts from Mayfield’s story. There was still that pride Tuesday of being a two-time walk-on who defied odds to lead OU to a College Football Playoff appearance in 2015.
The conference has retained the heart of its back-to-back champion. An Oklahoma hat trick in 2016 probably gives the Big 12 its best chance of getting back into the CFP.
That became more likely only when Mayfield made peace with himself.
“One final run,” he said with relief, “at the school that I love.”