Circumstance and coincidence make the primary players in this home-grown drama almost beyond believable. Follow along as we breakdown the six degrees of stealing signs. And yes, there will be a quiz.
Baker Mayfield transferred to Oklahoma from Texas Tech last year and was on the sideline during TCU's 37-33 defeat of OU on October 4th. Former Texas Tech co-offensive coordinator Sonny Cumbie is now on Patterson's staff in the same position at TCU, meaning that Mayfield might've been able to provide Bob Stoops and his Sooners with a decided schematic advantage if he could pass along the offensive calls that TCU made during the game to OU defensive coaches. The scheme seemed plausible since Mayfield and Cumbie spent last season together in Lubbock.
And the fact that Patterson was upset about the possibility that cheating occurred seems reasonable as well. Men of honor should want to win only when the playing field is equal and his opponents are playing at their best. After the game reports surfaced that Patterson and TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin were convinced that Mayfield was in fact relaying their offensive calls to the Sooner defense. From Graham Watson with Yahoo Sports:
Following TCU's 37-33 upset win against Oklahoma last weekend, TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin accused Oklahoma reserve quarterback Baker Mayfield of stealing the Horned Frogs' offensive play calls.
"Old Baker Mayfield was on the sidelines and calling out every freaking signal we had, so shout out to Baker Mayfield and OU for that," Boykin said after the game, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
According to the Oklahoman, coach Gary Patterson also noted during the halftime interview with Fox that Mayfield was passing along signals. Mayfield spent the game standing next to the Sooners' defensive assistant.
Again, it all seems to be a reasoned response. After all, Patterson just wanted to keep things on the up and up in the league, regardless of the seemingly incestuous relationship resulting from player transfers and coaching changes between several of the conference's programs.
But Patterson's piousness has to be called into question after news broke earlier this week that former Texas Tech defensive coordinator Matt Wallerstedt was calling Red Raider opponents and offering to provide them with defensive signals in a vindictive act of retribution.
Interim defensive coordinator Mike Smith touched on the subject on Monday and was obviously bothered by what has transpired.
Asked to what extent he believed the Red Raiders had been affected, Smith said, "I think it affects you. I hate having excuses. I won't have excuses, but when somebody knows when you're in a certain coverage every time, so I'm sitting there thinking, ‘How the heck are they attacking our corners?' ‘How do they know we're not in quarter-quarter-halves?' ‘How do they know we're not in cover two?'
"I mean, it's ridiculous. I just thought we're having a string of bad luck."
It is my understanding that Kingsbury was made aware of the situation by a phone call from Coach Strong himself in the days following the Longhorns' 34-13 defeat of the Red Raiders on November 1st. Famous for his morality and insistence that his program live up to the highest of standards, I'm not going to spend too much time wondering why Strong's phone call came after the game with Texas Tech because that's beside the point. At least he made the call.
And now knowing (at least peripherally) that Sonnie Cumbie has some sort of axe to grind with Kingsbury, and Patterson might still be smarting over the 70 point beatdown the Red Raiders handed him in Lubbock ten years ago, it doesn't seem out of the question that the two would consider taking Wallerstedt up on his offer in order to take advantage of an already overmatched Red Raider squad on an unseasonably hot October afternoon in Ft. Worth. Of course the end result would likely not have been any different even if TCU was allowed to huddle with the Red Raiders on that day, but 82 points is a pretty big number to put up, regardless of competition. Perhaps Patterson and Cumbie chose the high road that day. If so, then their utter destruction of the Red Raider defense should be commended. But in light of recent developments, Patterson's decision whether or not to be hypocritical on this subject is worthy of discussion.
The man best know for his idiosyncrasies on the sideline--the shoe tying, the violent way in which he towels off his face incessantly--might now be remembered for something completely new if he in fact accepted Wallerstedt's offer. It's not illegal to steal signs. In fact I doubt there are even any punishments to face if caught red-handed. But that doesn't make it right. Just ask Gary Patterson after the OU game.
Now in order to bring these six degrees of sign stealing full circle, I'll leave you with this: I've never rooted for the University of Texas one single day in my life. But on Thanksgiving, to paraphrase Bob Knight, I deeply hope the Longhorns kick their ass.