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How Bob Stoops, OU should respond to Baker Mayfield’s arrest

College students do dumb stuff.

Baker Mayfield did dumb stuff early Saturday morning in Fayetteville, Ark.

The Oklahoma quarterback was arrested at 2:56 a.m. for public intoxication, disorderly conduct, fleeing and resisting arrest. Read the arresting officer’s notes – Mayfield struggled to walk down stairs and had food on the front of his shirt, then after being detained, clamped down his arms and refused to put them behind his back – and you’ll find plenty of face-palm-worthy moments.

It’s silly stuff. Ridiculous stuff. Dumb stuff. It wouldn’t have pinged any radars if Mayfield wasn’t the starting quarterback for one of the biggest names in college sports.

But he is.

So it does.

And that isn’t good for OU football.

These are tough days for Sooner football. Not as tough as the final days of the Switzer Era when guns and drugs and woes abounded, and yet, the release of the Joe Mixon video and the revelation that Dede Westbrook was twice arrested for domestic violence before arriving in Norman has stained the program.

No two ways around that.

Locally and nationally, people are wondering what has happened with OU football and Bob Stoops. Once seen as a coach with a program who does things the right way, there are questions – and rightfully so.

Now, during the relative calm of late February comes the Mayfield arrest.

What will Stoops do? What will OU do?

What should they do?

I’m not here to suggest Mayfield deserves to be dealt with harshly. He did something dumb, not something dangerous or injurious or malicious. And yet, he is the front man for this program right now. The face. The leader.

He isn’t an average Sooner, and these aren’t average times for the program. If Stoops wants to show he’s serious about doing things the right way, he’ll punish Baker Mayfield.

I have no doubt there’ll be internal punishment. Stadium stairs. Sprints. But to send a message to leery fans, to future recruits and most of all, to current players, Stoops needs to do something public.

My suggestion: Mayfield doesn’t start the opener.

Maybe hold him out the first series or two. Maybe even the first quarter, depending on how furious Stoops is that his leader could do something so unbelievably stupid. It’s not much punishment seeing as how OU plays UTEP and could probably win without Mayfield. But even holding him out a series would be more punishment than Stoops has previously doled out for similar crimes.

Jordan Thomas, for example, was arrested last summer for, among other things, public intox and resisting arrest; he didn’t miss any game action as a result.

Mayfield not starting every game would be a fairly big deal, by the way. He’s been the starter 13 games each of his first two seasons as a Sooner. He could run that total to 40 games if the Sooners play in the Big 12 title game and a bowl game next season, and that plateau is a mark few quarterbacks reach. But Mayfield would fall short if he doesn’t start the opener.

In seasons past, stupid-college-student mistakes might not have needed public punishment, but the climate around OU football is different now. The reaction to mistakes, even dumb ones, must be, too.



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Jenni Carlson

Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football... Read more ›