The major storyline of this weekend’s game between Texas Tech and Oklahoma is not lost on anybody: Baker Mayfield is returning to Lubbock for the first time as an active player since transferring from Texas Tech to Oklahoma.
After a breakout season as a true freshman walk-on at Texas Tech, Mayfield opted to transfer. By the time he made that decision, he had lost the starting job to Davis Webb for the 2013 Holiday Bowl. Since the Red Raiders chose to move forward with a different starter, it wasn’t necessarily THAT Mayfield transferred, it was HOW he transferred that riled up the Texas Tech fan base.
Mostly the fault of the media, a picture was painted of Baker Mayfield – the victim – who had achieved so much against all odds. The villain became Texas Tech and its head coach, the “scoundrel” Kliff Kingsbury. Mayfield took his subtle shots at Texas Tech on the way out, saying Oklahoma was the school he wanted to end up at all along (even though during other media sob fests, Mayfield expressed being slighted by TCU during his recruitment. But I digress…).
I blame most of the drivel created by Mayfield’s transfer on the media, who loved the story about a walk-on succeeding with a chip on his shoulder. And to his credit, Mayfield far exceeded all expectations and is a great quarterback. But Texas Tech did not treat him unfairly any step along the way. Tech did not “block” his transfer. Tech did not refuse to give him a scholarship (he left before any were available). Tech gave him a platform to use as a stepping stone to, in Mayfield’s mind, a better opportunity, something that is certainly not owed to a true freshman walk-on. And Kliff Kingsbury, the aforementioned scoundrel, helped lobby other Big 12 schools to grant Mayfield an extra season of eligibility.
But all that is beside the point now; it’s in the past. Baker Mayfield is your ex who you replaced with someone better in Patrick Mahomes. Not a single Texas Tech fan wishes Mayfield were still enrolled here, and that’s not a shot at him. It’s a fact. If he is happy and prosperous at Oklahoma, good for him. Why should it affect us?
Despite the media’s exaggerations and falsehoods, Mayfield does thrive with a chip on his shoulder, manufactured or genuine. He has said the matchup against Texas Tech is just another Big 12 game, but we all know he’ll be fired up to exact his perceived revenge. Texas Tech fans shouldn’t promote that atmosphere for two reasons.
First is the obvious. He plays better when he has something extra to play for. He wants nothing more than to be taunted by Texas Tech fans. He will feed off of it and it will likely fuel him to play even better. Rather than trying to get in his head with personal attacks, fans should focus on creating a loud and rowdy atmosphere that makes playing on the road harder for the entire Sooners squad.
Second is for the benefit of our overall fan base’s perception. Remember the media that spun this story for years, making Texas Tech out to be the villain? They are patiently waiting for Red Raider fans to bring their desired narrative to fruition. They want this to be a revengeful victory for the beloved Baker Mayfield, ever the underdog with a chip on his shoulder. Don’t give it to them. They are not going to be fair to us, and that is going to look bad for everyone associated with Texas Tech. Don’t make it worse.
No doubt, enacting the recommendation I’m proposing will require discipline. When Baker waves at the fans or gives them a sarcastic guns up, it will piss me off. But in the long run, a measured and respectful reaction will be more fruitful than a shallow reaction in the heat of the moment.
And three years later, who really cares anymore? Patrick Mahomes is the best in the business. Texas Tech is not any worse off without Baker Mayfield, so why treat him like a villain?
Wear black, be loud, and pack the stadium on Saturday night. Just don’t direct your energy towards Baker. Harness it for the betterment of Texas Tech instead.