Texas Tech is Better Off Without Mayfield


At Wreck ‘Em Red we have ignored the 800-pound Gorilla in the room as Texas Tech has prepared to face Oklahoma, the Baker Mayfield story.

Since Mayfield left Texas Tech for Oklahoma following the 2013 regular season, controversy and misinformation turned what should have been a normal situation in the world of college football into a pseudo soap opera.

In Mayfield’s true freshman season, 2013, a knee injury and his inconsistent play opened the door for fellow true freshman Davis Webb to start five games creating an unexpected quarterback controversy. Eventually, first-year head coach Kliff Kingsbury decided to settle the competition during practices leading up to the 2013 Holiday Bowl.

Mayfield made Kingsbury’s decision easy when he walked away unexpectedly. Despite many reports and accusations from national media claiming that Kliff Kingsbury kicked Mayfield off the team, the fact is that Mayfield quit on his team before the end of the season.

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"“I didn’t get many specifics for why he was leaving,” Kingsbury said during a post-practice session with the media at the time of Mayfield’s departure. “I just knew that he wanted to leave. We wanted him here. He knows that. He knows how I feel about him. But if he feels (leaving) is the best thing for him, then that’s what he needed to do.” Link"

Mayfield claimed that he was leaving due to a lack of communication between he and his head coach. But many have speculated that he transferred because he lost his starting job to Davis Webb while others have reported that Mayfield had wanted to play for Oklahoma since his youth.

Whatever the reason, I’m glad he is gone. Texas Tech is better off without him.

Mayfield has a brash and powerful personality and that is fine. Many teams rally around players like that.

But in the midst of an unstable quarterback situation, a team needs players with humility that are willing to do the best for the team. Had Mayfield stayed and been the backup, chances are a rift could have developed in the locker room when those players drawn to Mayfield’s charisma might support Mayfield rather than whomever Kingsbury decided to name the starter.

While this is pure speculation and we will never know what would have happened, this type of scenario has divided countless teams at almost every level of football from high school to the NFL. With Mayfield out of the picture, a clear pecking order was established at the beginning of 2014 with Davis Webb entrenched as the starter and true freshman Pat Mahomes the backup.

Mahomes had no expectations of starting and was willing to bide his time until he could win the job. But no one knew how soon that time would come.

When Webb was injured during the 8th game of 2014, Mahomes took his opportunity and has not looked back. Now, almost a year later Mahomes is one of the best quarterbacks in the nation and Webb has remained on the team as the backup quarterback.

And unlike Mayfield, Webb has been supportive and professional despite losing his starting position.

Had Mayfield stayed at Texas Tech, odds are that Mahomes might still be waiting for his first career start rather than making his 12th today against Oklahoma. During his time at Texas Tech, Mayfield never put together a stretch of more than two or three games of high-quality football while Mahomes has begun his career with 9 fantastic games and only one poor start last week against Kansas. (He played only a quarter and a half in his first collegiate start against Texas due to injury.)

Not one Texas Tech fan would trade Mahomes for Mayfield. And had Mayfield not quit on his team in December of 2013, the Texas Tech quarterback situation might still be in flux and Mahomes might not have had an opportunity to show what he can do.

Another reason Texas Tech is better off without Mayfield is that when Mayfield left, so did his vocal and seemingly entitled father. After the Craig James – Mike Leach dispute in 2009, Texas Tech would rather not have to deal with another helicopter parent hovering over his son questioning every decision the coaching staff makes.

After Texas Tech denied Mayfield’s request for an outright release from the program meaning he would have to sit out the 2014 season, his father James took to the media attacking Kingsbury. (Anyone else see the irony in the fact that Mayfield’s father is named James?)

"“The driver and the scoundrel behind all this is Kliff,” James Mayfield said. “He is so focused or hellbent on punishing Baker.” Link"

Kingsbury was not trying to punish Mayfield. Rather, he was simply following NCAA protocol, which says that any player that transfers schools must sit out one year. Currently, there are two players on Texas Tech’s roster, defensive tackle Ondre Pipkins and defensive end Kolin Hill sitting out this season because they have chosen to transfer to Texas Tech.  Both players would have seen playing time this year providing depth for the suspect Texas Tech defense.

Neither has filed a waver to play this year nor has either player’s father gone to the media to complain about the situation.

Mayfield felt that since he was a walk-on, he should be exempt from this rule but that is not what the NCAA ruled. Furthermore, had Mayfield not quit on his team before the end of the season, it is virtually guaranteed that he would have been put on scholarship at the start of the following semester.

But those points have been argued enough. What 2015 has revealed is that Texas Tech is better off without Mayfield.

Pat Mahomes has a higher ceiling, protects the ball more effectively than Mayfield did while at Tech and has two more years to play while Mayfield will be a senior next season.

Next: Texas Tech Football: The Final Five

Mayfield is surrounded by a much stronger team than Mahomes and it is likely that he will emerge from today’s game the victor. But regardless of the outcome of this game, I will consider Texas Tech fortunate to have Pat Mahomes rather than Baker Mayfield leading the Texas Tech football team.