On New Year’s day, we will begin 2018 by watching the first playoff game between Oklahoma and Georgia. There’ll be many great storylines, but the majority of them will center around OU’s leading star, Baker Mayfield.
Mayfield’s had quite the turbulent career and has many fans who admire him for his perseverance. They appreciate the notion no one thought he was good enough and so he had to walk on. They love that he earned the starting job, but was still denied a scholarship by a Texas Tech staff who had screwed him over and then restricted him from playing where he wanted. They hated that he had to wait a year even though NCAA and Big 12 rules permitted him from playing immediately. But mostly, they just wanted to see a good, humble kid that’s been through it all finally succeed...or at least that’s the narrative he’d want you to believe.
What most people don’t know - or refuse to know - is Baker actually had three FBS offers. He set his sights on TCU, who had already awarded a scholarship to another quarterback. After that failed, he chose to walk on to Texas Tech, where he was awarded the starting job because of an injury to Michael Brewer. He went on to beat up on cupcakes and struggle against good defenses. After getting injured against Kansas, backup Davis Webb, who brought Tech from behind to beat TCU, took over and looked like the better quarterback. Baker would finish out the season struggling mightily against Big 12 teams.
Going into bowl preparation, coach Kliff Kingsbury said it would be an all-out QB competition for the starting position, however Baker didn’t like that. He felt like he had earned the starting spot from his play to which the coaching staff, and most of the Red Raider fan base, disagreed. After going from the starter to taking reps with the third team during bowl practice, and virtually being the No. 3 quarterback on the depth chart, Baker Mayfield announced he was transferring before the bowl game. The narrative he then created was: “Texas Tech was not going to offer me a spring scholarship.” This has been denied many times and even though Kingsbury announced he would get Mayfield his spring scholarship during the middle of the season, for some reason this narrative took off. It now became Baker Mayfield against the world, to which Mayfield was the victim instead of Baker Mayfield the villain.
Yet, what if he was still our villain? What if Baker took that third string position in stride and worked hard in the Spring to earn his spot back? Dive with me as I look into my crystal ball to predict what happens in this alternate universe.
Kliff Kingsbury announces a full quarterback competition between Davis Webb, Baker Mayfield, and new unknown freshman from east Texas, Patrick Mahomes. Though the players compete for the job, the entire fan base assumes Webb will get it based off of his incredible bowl game performance against Arizona State. Webb does indeed go on to be the game one starter against Central Arkansas and assume QB1 duties.
As the season goes on, Webb does not seem to be the same player we saw in the bowl game and struggles against Arkansas. The Red Raiders travel to Stillwater to play Oklahoma State in a close battle where Davis Webb plays his best game of the season until he goes down with a shoulder injury and is replaced by Mayfield to save the day...except he doesn’t.
The Mayfield from last year that struggled against top defenses rears its ugly head, and even though Mayfield plays better than Pat Mahomes did in this game in the real world, Tech still loses this contest. This game leaves a sour taste in the mouth of many Tech followers when it comes to Mayfield, and Tech pushes on with Davis Webb at the helm. Webb continues to have an up-and-down season which results in multiple losses until the TCU game where he injures his ankle and is announced out for the year and once again, Mayfield takes his place.
Mayfield starts his reemergence by having a strong first half against Texas, just for the Longhorns to come back and win the game after a couple Mayfield interceptions, once again leaving a sour taste in the mouths of Texas Tech fans.
Then, after getting blown out by the Sooners, Mayfield comes back to beat the Cyclones on the road, earning his first victory in more than a year. During the regular season finale, Baker plays the Baylor Bears in Cowboys stadium. We all remember the amazing game Pat Mahomes had, well, Mayfield doesn’t have the same performance. Baker has a decent game but doesn’t wow anyone and Tech still loses, but this time by a wider margin.
After getting a full redshirt year, Pat Mahomes is ready to compete for the starting job. Once again, Kingsbury announces a QB competition, but once again Davis Webb earns the job. Webb goes into the season ready to show everyone he’s improved and even impresses by knocking off Arkansas in Fayeteville. However, the following two games do not bode well for Webb as the Red Raiders get blown out against both TCU and Baylor.
During the Baylor game, Mayfield gets another opportunity to show his value as he leads the Red Raiders in the middle of the second quarter already down big. Mayfield also suffers a similar fate as Webb, struggling mightily and forcing Kingsbury to trot out the young Patrick Mahomes in the 4th quarter.
Mahomes, however, favors much better than the other two. After throwing an interception on his first drive, Mahomes settles down and throws two touchdowns to finish the game in a Baylor rout, leading many to wonder how good Mahomes could truly be. Webb goes back to start against Iowa State and Kansas, but once again struggles against mighty Oklahoma, forcing Kingsbury to bench him again. This time however, it is Pat Mahomes that comes in the second half and not the presumed backup Baker Mayfield. Mahomes goes on to play tremendously against an impressive Sooner defense, and calls for the redshirt freshman to start grow even louder. Mahomes gets his first start of his career, while Webb is listed with an injury and Mayfield is the backup. Mahomes goes on to play another magnificent game in a high scoring loss, solidifying his status as QB1 and playing out the rest of the season.
Webb transfers out, and Mahomes is awarded the starting job during his redshirt sophomore season. Mayfield goes into his senior season, once again as the backup QB for the Red Raiders. With the exception of garbage time, Mayfield doesn’t sniff the field until Mahomes goes down with injury against Kansas. Baker comes in the game and wows the crowd (similar to what Shimonek did in the same game). Mayfield goes on to throw four touchdowns in arguably his best game as a Red Raider. Mayfield finishes out the season and has senior day as a member of Texas Tech.
Mayfield gets invited to the East-West Shrine Game, where he surprises some scouts but not enough to get drafted. Baker goes on to the CFL where he has a decent rookie year and actually looks capable to carve out a nice career.
Without all of the Oklahoma talent around him, Mayfield struggles to stay on the field with the Red Raiders as two quarterbacks, who were consistently better, always stood in his way. Mayfield doesn’t win a Heisman, nor does he ever even get to play in a bowl game. Mayfield’s career flies by as a fan favorite and life long Red Raider, but without any accolades.
After looking at this, it’s safe to say Baker Mayfield made the right decision to transfer, but it’s not because he got screwed over, it’s because he never would have been QB1 to begin with.