Flag-Planting Mayfield Should Only Regret Unnecessary Apology

[USATSI]
Written by Kyle Porter

Because we take college sports far more seriously than we actually should, we often read far too much into on-the-field acts of the participants. A person is “brave” if he leads a fourth-quarter comeback. He is “courageous” if he plays through injury. And he is “classy” if he doesn’t dance after scoring.

As if a football game is a morality play and we can sort out the sheep and the wolves by watching 22 players bash each other’s heads in for 200 minutes a week.

That’s exactly what happened on Saturday night when Baker Mayfield blew a hole in the Ohio State secondary and planted OU’s hideous crimson and cream flag right in the heart of Buckeye Nation.

An exclamation point, as it were, on one of the great non-conference performances in Big 12 history (which it was).

The fallout was comical and more self-righteous than a temple full of Pharisees.

Oklahoma State, people said, is not defined by such classlessness. Mason Rudolph, people said, would never dare besmirch his family name by sticking a metal pole in the turf in front of 110,000 empty seats. Mike Gundy, people said, would never stand for such a thing.

Gundy may or may not stand for it, but I promise you if it happened on Owen field (or anywhere else Oklahoma State played OU), the majority of us would absolutely love it.

And yet, people said, it was another blight on the school from the south in a decade full of them.

While it’s true that Oklahoma has had its issues — most of them more serious than they’ve been handled both by the school and by the media — Baker Mayfield dotting the O in Columbus after probably the biggest game of his life is, uh, not one of them.

Mayfield is a performer. This is all part of the spectacle. He is a showman, and with his gesture he inserted a soul into the 2017 college football season.

You know what else?

I absolutely loved it.

I might be in the minority here. I both love and hate Mayfield. As if that’s not enough, I also love hating him. So I run the full gamut. I hate him for obvious reasons, mostly because he has been a thorn in Mike Gundy’s side for what feels like 11 years now. I love him because he’s a gamer, and he’s in on the act. He talks and he walks struts, and he always knows you’re watching him do both.

He’s Patrick Reed in a lot of ways with a lot more self-awareness.

I love hating him because he’s everything you want a rival school’s antagonistic QB to be. Nobody has ever fit the mold of an OU Sooner quarterback better than Baker Mayfield. It’s him and The Boz on the All-OU first team, and everybody else is playing for second. He’s infuriatingly good, and he knows it.

What I didn’t love, and what seemed uncharacteristic for Baker the Performer, was his apology on Monday for his act of desecration on Saturday. He said he should have taken it to the locker room and shouldn’t have done what he did.

What? Why? If you go into the 110,000-person house of the No. 2 team in the country and torch them on national television with ludicrous throw after ludicrous throw, you get to plant the flag. This is college football, people, it’s not war.

This is what makes the sport fun. Ohio State rolled OU in Baker’s house last year. This year, he got revenge and put the Big 12 firmly back in the national spotlight in spectacular fashion in theirs. This is everything we want sports to be, and it elicited the exact reaction we all wanted it to elicit.

Whether anyone from Oklahoma State would have done this doesn’t make it right or wrong, and it certainly doesn’t mean Oklahoma State necessarily has better human beings on its team. That might be true, but if this act proves or disproves it, then we have many, many things we need to reevaluate.

The real kicker for me in all of this is that, as fans, we think we know Player X is “a good guy” because he goes to the locker room and shakes hands with his coaches and drinks his Capri-Sun and never says a word after big wins. Those kinds of players “make us proud.” We exclusively root for the “good guys.” The only problem with that is that we don’t know Player X and we likely never will. You have no idea what kind of dudes you’re rooting for.

Justin Blackmon never says a word, goes about his business. Great guy. Tim Tebow does the Gator chomp in an OU player’s face in the national championship game. Burn him at the stake. It’s a dangerous game to start conflating ethics and touchdowns.

Also, why do we even watch sports? Is it not for these once-every-25-months moments that we’ll talk about for decades to come. Marcus Smart flipping on the Jayhawk after Oklahoma State downed KU in Lawrence for the first time in 1989.

I’m no Smart apologist, but that was a moment. 

I saw many folks say if OSU won in Norman last year for the Big 12 title, they would be aghast if a flag was planted. A flag! Planted in a field! Where are we at in society? Baker Mayfield wore a back-to-back champs shirt during the game last year! If Oklahoma State had beaten OU in Norman for the freaking Big 12 title, I would have wanted Jordan Sterns to plant Burns Hargis at the 50!

I remember watching an Oklahoma State-Texas basketball game in the early 2000s with my dad. Texas dunked on OSU in Austin in the waning seconds with a massive lead. I remember being irate about it all. Now I wonder why I even cared.

We shouldn’t be under the illusion that these games are anything but that or that they’re anything different from our other forms of entertainment. Our TVs are a stage, but the performances are not soul-sanctifying shakedowns. They are live dramas with, hopefully, a bit of action.

We got all that and more from Mayfield in Columbus on Saturday evening. And Oklahoma State has yet another rallying point. The entire thing is fantastic from every vantage. Whether you’re an OU fan or an OSU fan, Bedlam looks like it’s going to be monumental once again. And what in the world could be better than ruining the senior season of a flag-planting-running-from-the-cops-handlebar-mustache-wearing legend from the other side?

Oh … I know.

Doing it twice.

  • Nate

    Hold up…

    • Big D

      Yea, because this is kids tee ball and not young men, playing an extremely physical game where people smack eachother up amd down the field…good parallel

    • KWC

      Ummm… He didn’t actually do it in front of anyones face, at least not from the other team. The only people left on the field at that point was the OU Band, Administrators, and some of his own teammates. So, its not really comparable to spiking the football in your opponent’s face, because there was not an opponents face anywhere around.

      And I say that as a person who cant stand Mayfield, because I think he is over the top and plays for OU.

      • Nate

        You can’t be serious here… It’s a metaphor, my man. Obnoxiously waving and planting your flag on your opponents 50 is about as in your face as it gets. Stop.

        • michael hammond

          You mean like when the Buckeye’s went to Norman last year, beat the Sooners good and pulled out a sign and chanted “Basic Defense”at the crowd? Google it, in case you forgot. And you didn’t hear about it cuz in Norman if you get housed, you begrudgingly accept it and leave. Also the Buckeye’s chose Saturday nites game, not to sing school song after, hmm?.

        • KWC

          I can be serious. It’s funny how mad people are getting about this. I guess my thought is, if he did this in Stillwater would I be mad… yes. But a lot of that would be knowing we just got beat again in Bedlam. Would be more rubbing salt in the wound at that point. Of all Mayfields actions and words this is the one people are most fired up about… a flag that never got planted since it was turf.

          Also, would have felt pretty good with a flag planting on Owen field last year.

      • T-Bone

        tOSU band was on the field right there.

    • KWC

      This was awesome… To me, if you didn’t get up in arms about this then you can’t really get up in arms about Mayfield.

      • Nate

        I was there. Big flip, he celebrated. Mayfield’s was a deliberate attempt to sh** on the opponent. Not the same. And I also love how how people try to use Marcus Smart as the example. He was far and away the most hated OSU athlete by other fans we’ve ever had.

        • Nathan

          I didn’t (dont) like Smart for the same reason I don’t like Mayfield – they’re both obnoxious, never shut their mouths and think they’re the center of the universe. I’ve got an old school baseball approach to these things – you don’t pimp your home runs or big time the opposing pitcher. The same is true of doing a backflip or celebrating on the 50 yard line of your opponents field. Of course those guys wouldnt know class if it punched them in the face.

        • KWC

          Again, that may have been his intention. But you don’t truely know that. Also, you don’t know what Smarts intention was either. Also Smart being hated makes him the perfect comparison, because Mayfield is top 2-3 of hated OU athletes.

  • Marc Shook

    Trash, straight trash. You don’t did that at someone else’s 50, just ask TO how it turned out for him. He’s lucky there weren’t any players still on the field. Off he did this in Stilly, I’d expect full scale riots. Just my $0.02.

    PS – the arrest tape already showed us what a ‘Bag he is.

    • KWC

      Also, TO did it twice during the game. Not after the game when almost all the opponents fans and players had left. So… not exactly the same.

      • Marc Shook

        Riiiiight…so the meaning of it changed because there weren’t players on the field??? I’ll tell ya this, if there were players on the field that punk would’ve never dreamed of doing that, and if he did, he’d have paid as much as TO did. Sorry, but your logic, and excuses, are flawed…you sure you’re not a closet dirt burglar?

        • KWC

          I mean yes the meaning does change. The circumstances around the situation influence the meaning and impact, and TO and Mayfield had very different circumstances. It’s not a hard leap to make. My logic is clear, plus I am not making any excuses. Just stating facts of the two situations.

  • Ben DeWalt

    Sports are fun. That was fun. Everyone should move on.

    Also realize that now literally any team that beats OU in Norman can plant a flag at Owen and no OU fan can complain…..Do you realize how amazing it would be to see Iowa State planting a flag at Owen and the OU fans trying to figure out how it was different from Baker? Baker opened pandora’s box and I for one love it.

    • SeattlePoke

      This would be spectacular. Try acting high and mighty with ISU’s flag planted in the middle of your field. That stings deep.

    • Big D

      How many teams are beating OU in Norman?

      • Mark

        That’s not the point. Ben is right – no OU fan can rightfully complain about another team’s behavior if they condone the actions of their own QB. It’s blown everything wide open as far as what other teams could do (hypothetically) if they were to beat OU.

        I’m already fantasizing about a Big12 championship in which OSU throttles OU and the ‘Pokes rip off Baker’s jersey, hockey-fight style, to see what crap he had printed up on his undershirt this year. You know, just to make fun of him. Or the D-line guys could all get undershirts printed up that say “Baker’s Daddy.” That would be fun too!

        • Big D

          We can only hope one day the Pokes have the swagger and guts to straight up disrespect OU. At this point, they’re just little brother until they prive otherwise. And I root for OSU every year in bedlam…but truth is truth

      • KWC

        Hell how many teams are beating Ohio State in Columbus… Since Urban took over that number is 3…

        • Big D

          Right. Rare occasion

          • KWC

            Which is why celebrating doing so should not cause such an uproar.

          • Big D

            So, you’re agreeing with me?

    • Lokeasy

      I don’t think its what you mean by pandora’s box but ..if we could get a b12 vs B10 rivalry out of this, I’m 100% for Baker planting that flag.

      Disclaimer- I’m 100% for it anyway. Watching people moan about it has been excellent.

    • Justin

      Best response I have heard to this yet. Congratulations!!! I also found it funny that he jammed it into the ground just to watch it fall.

  • Sugar Skull Pete

    I feel bad for the people paying money for this.

    • OSU Student

      You read my mind.

      • GeoPoke

        Thanks for reading

    • GeoPoke

      Thanks for reading.

  • PythonPoke

    I have trouble even watching their games because of that %&*@ song they play every 6 seconds, but… yeah, this didn’t really need an apology. Not everyone would have done it, but he was having fun and in the moment. I’ve done much worse in life. 🙂

    • KWC

      I agree. The real apology needs to be for playing that song 2 million times a game. Learn something else.

    • Good at Cruitin

      they play that damn song even after a 1yd loss – doesn’t matter.

      • Guest

        What is the difference in the paddle people making noise, when down by several scores? Just asking?

  • Stick

    They say “don’t judge a book by it’s cover”.

    I say “first look at the author of said drek and then decide if he too has douche’ tendencies”.

  • Mark

    I agree that this was overblown.

    I also agree that these are just games and shouldn’t be taken so seriously.

    I disagree that you can’t have any inkling of a person’s character based on how he plays the game of football and how he interviews. You ABSOLUTELY can tell that. True, you have the outliers – there are probably plenty of quiet, respectful guys that are doing bad things in secret. But the opposite is probably true most of the time.

    Let me give you an example: J.W. Walsh respectfully handed the ball to the ref after every TD he scored, which was a small reflection of his character. Is anyone here going to tell me that Walsh wasn’t a competitor, or a stand-up guy? That has become a part of Cowboy Culture and you still see guys doing that today. Contrast that with Joe Mixon, who, as some of you will recall, got away with dropping the ball BEFORE crossing the goal line during the last tOSU matchup. It’s a little thing, but hey, someone had to go pick that ball up, and it certainly wasn’t Mixon. My point is, you CAN tell something about a person’s character by the little details that play out on the field.

    • Big D

      Justin Blackmon dropped the ball before crossing the A&M goal line…

      • John Lusk

        The point wasn’t that no OSU player has ever done that.

        • Big D

          My point is its silly. Let it go. Stop selectively being offended. Disrespectful stuff happens in sports. It only makes it more fun

      • Tayvl

        Actually, Blackmon fumbled that one out of the endzone and cost the team a touchdown. He wasn’t trying to be cool at all.

        • Big D

          Yes he was. Go back and watch. Its the exact same play

          • Tayvl

            Fumble. The vid title says “showboating”, but he was simply carrying the ball one-handed and it got away from him.

          • Mark

            Yeah, no. This isn’t even close to Mixon’s deliberate drop of the ball right as he crossed the goal line. But that’s semantics… it wasn’t my point anyway.

          • Big D

            You’re right. It is semantics. You like one dude and dislike the other. So you see it different. If Blackmon wasn’t strutting into the endzone he wouldnt have dropped the ball. If Mixon wasnt strutting into the end zone, he wouldnt have prematurely dropped the ball.

    • James

      Followed this blog for years first time ever commenting and can’t disagree more!! College football players are some of the most reverend athletes in OK. And their actions are emulated almost immediately by younger amateur athletes. Are we teaching 10 years olds this is acceptable. i know you are going to say they are young men, but this is the age than an academy grad becomes a commissioned officer. It is definently appropriate to have more class and restraint at 21 or 22.

      • James

        Mark meant to make a sepeate post and not comment on yours. My apologies

        • Mark

          No worries man. Sounds like we are on the same page. I mean, I wasn’t offended by what Baker did, but my point was that a person’s character often comes out in the way they play and their surrounding actions.

  • Big D

    I wholeheartedly agree with this article. If you are butthurt about the flag plant, you’re probably a hypocrite. It was hilarious and awesome. You don’t like it? Dont lose. By the way, Ohio State danced around and sang their fight song on the OU field last year. This was revenge. It was fair game

    • John Lusk

      They sang their alma mater in the corner in front of their fans.

      • Big D

        On the OU field

    • David

      They sing their alma mater after every game, win or lose.

      • Big D

        On the other teams field?

        • David

          Yeah, near their allotted section. It’s common place from multiple schools including ours.

          • Marc Shook

            Hell, we do it…that’s not showing up the other team.

  • John Lusk

    This OU blog is pretty good but could it maybe go back to being an OSU blog soon?

    • Brian

      Agreed.

      • Hello

        This is just click bait. Porter knows exactly what he is doing when he writes complementary OU articles.

    • GoPokes

      No kidding. It’s embarrassing.

    • David

      I don’t get why Kyle likes OU. I don’t mind his hot takes though. Gets the conversation going.

    • Matt Belanger

      It’s one article. The last article the feature OU in it as a main point? 72 articles ago. There’s OSU posts in other blogs, and this was a national moment for our arch rivals.

    • Guest

      What I don’t understand is why OSU fans are more offended than Ohio St fans?

  • Chris

    The only thing he should apologize for is not actually planting it.

  • Chris Saxon

    Try not to slobber KP. Good God

  • Wayne from Forty One

    To say the porkchop family in Norman had a few issues the last few years is like saying Hugh Freeze made a stupid phone call. You are vastly understating this, and rationalizing a behavior that has no class or sportsmanship to it. We will have this happen at a HS game and a fight will ensue. Salute that showdog and rationalize for him, he’s still a walking talking advertisement for contraception

  • Chris Saxon

    KP wears a WWBTD bracket. “What Would Barry Trammel Do?”

    • Chris

      You had to explain your joke, not ideal.

      • Poked

        I got the joke, then he explained it and ruined it.

  • Brian S.

    Baker is polarizing, the quintessential Sooner. He is more of a Boz than a Bradford. Love him if he’s on your team, hate him if he isn’t.

    Is college football amateur athletics or pro wrestling? Or both?

    Baker is Rowdy Roddy Piper.

    And the media and fans are eating it up.

    How many more clicks do you get on Sooner topics?

  • Barrett Reed

    Incredible article….chills…..

  • GoPokes

    There should be enough OSU stories to keep you all from writing OU ones. I only clicked on the story so I could write this. Screw OU.

    • spokepokes

      These make more money. You like reading this site? It needs money. Don’t like it? Don’t come to the website.

  • Blake

    I check this site everyday and enjoy most articles, but articles like this are why I won’t contribute money and don’t love this site. Click bait at its finest. As for Mayfield anytime you can say, “Ya that’s something Johnny Manziel would do”, that’s not something most would endorse.

    • Chris

      This is quite a comment. I come here every day, but… maybe don’t.

      • Blake

        You have your opinion, and I have mine. They always say they want feedback and are always asking people to contribute. I’m giving feedback and saying why I don’t think I will, even though at times I consider it.

        • pump handle

          I’m with you, PFB is my go to site for OSU news, but every time I consider signing up as a contributor we get unnecessary garbage like this or 15 articles about Bob Stoops’ retirement. We finally have “La Cosa Nostra”, but they keep shoving the gooners down our throat like every other media outlet in Oklahoma. Does anyone think sooner scoop would have posted an article defending Marcus Smart or try to canonize Eddie when he retired? I don’t think so, and Carey Murdock even attended OSU for a year. The difference is that Carey is smart enough to know where his bread is buttered.

    • Matt Belanger

      How is this click bait?

  • Saucy Takes

    When are we going to talk about OSU football again? Seems like we have a house divided blog recently

    • KWC

      Possibly, but when covering OSU a major topic is going to be discussing things that happen south of Stillwater, considering they are main rival every year, especially this year. Plus sometimes covering hot topics. That’s professional writing and journalism. I almost never agree with Porter (especially on all his man crushes), but he tries to cover things like this objectively and with little bias.

      • Saucy Takes

        But what does an apology from the OU quarterback after a celebration from beating TOSU have to do with anything in stillwater or OSU… I might be missing something.

        • KWC

          I am fairly certain this article was about way more than an apology, but that’s just my take. Also, this was a national story. This may be an OSU blog, but I would be fairly certain Porter/co would cover a national story in some regard when it relates to the Big 12 and especially OU. Why? Because those things do tie directly or indirectly to OSU. but again, just my opinion.

          • Saucy Takes

            oh okay that makes sense.

  • Nathan

    Mayfield is a classless tool. You need to stop with the man crush. Make an OU site if you want to follow OU so closely and/or with admiration.

  • CmonMan

    Porter… I love ya dude. Love this site. Love the podcast. Would love to grab a beer and talk for hours about golf and the pokes BUT DEAR GOD. This article didn’t need to be written and your love affair with one of the biggest TOOLS in UO history is out of control. Freakin Carson has to cover those fools and he doesn’t even say half the stuff you’ve said about baker on local tv when he is paid to talk about the game. Actually one of the first things he said after the UTEP game was stating how absolutely awful Utep was, which is a completely beauiful down play to UOs performance. I love you dude but please never ever for any reason ever write something like this again. Forever your online friend.

    -Gator

  • Scott in Texas

    Mayfield is an immature attention whore drama queen. It’s just old at this point.

  • Jeremy

    Bravo KP!! Great read. People need to grab a cold COOP and relax a little bit. So what if Baker Mayfield is being the prototypical anti-hero that we all love to hate. It’s who he is, and it’s great for tv and great for social media. It’s not like the shenanigans took place while the stadium was still full, and tOSU players were still on the field.. who cares!!! Just another great moment for football in the state of Oklahoma. I can’t freakin’ wait until Nov. 4, when people are talking about whose handlebar mustache is better, Mayfield’s or Sinor’s. Who’s got the best saying on their undershirt. Or when Mason looks across the field into Baker’s eyes and yells “This is my house! Get out!!” It’s great for college football. It’s great for the Big XII. And it’s great for football in the state of Oklahoma. Cheers!

  • OSU Student

    -“So, what should we talk about today?”

    -“Baker planting the flag on Ohio state’s field.”

    -“But OSU has a game against Pitt this weekend, and since this is an OSU blog page, shouldn’t we be talking about that?”

    -“Absolutely not. This is the real news.”

    -“Are you sure? I mean, people have been beating this story like a dead dog, and it really isn’t that big of a deal.”

    -“But… Baker planted a flag….”

    -“And…? Does that affect Oklahoma State football in anyway? Does it alter absolutely anything at all dealing with this program?”

    -“BAKER PLANTED A FLAG?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!”

  • OSU Student

    Baker planting the flag really is not a big deal.

    1.) it’s turf. He couldn’t even plant it. It fell over to the ground.

    2.) they just won a top 5 battle on the road. If he wants to celebrate, whooptie-do.

    3.) it has absolutely nothing to do with Oklahoma state football, yet OSU fans are overly and unrelentlessly obsessed with this pointless story, drop it.

    I’ve seen more national stories on this the past couple of days than I have anything else. Even more than the game. Baker mayfield attempting to plant a flag is more popular than hurricane stories. Nice.

  • Saucy Takes

    This was for site traffic and clicks and it was successful

  • spokepokes

    OSU fans look really dumb freaking out about this. Selective outrage. Just stop.

    • Guest

      I Agree.

  • David

    Win with class, simple as that. Not a fan.

  • Chris Saxon

    Attempting to damage or deface public property is criminal mischief in Ohio.

    • Chris

      Oh come on, give it a rest.

  • osu2doc

    That’s why I like self governance of baseball. He wouldn’t survive the next at bat.

    • Mark

      This made me chuckle!

  • jh

    I’ve enjoyed this site/blog for a long time and then…

    I have no doubt that this article was well intended…poorly articulated. The outrage from the media and fans isn’t envy or a lack of appreciation of one’s talent. It is about the direction of sports and it’s deviation to what makes them great. Baker Mayfield is a villain because he acts like a clown, bends if not breaks rules, then laughs about it and nobody holds him accountable. The act was rehearsed, calculated and justified by a pathetic chorus of pride but realistically self adulation. I enjoyed Marcus Smart’s contribution in a historic win, but I wasn’t proud of his actions, as a former athlete at Oklahoma State University, I was embarrassed.

    Sport is about respect and competition with your opponent. It is about showing discipline and integrity in both wins and losses. It is about giving it your all and accepting your performance and not blaming others. It is about knocking your opponent down for the win and extending your hand to help them up. It is about handshakes and working harder when you lose. It’s about celebrating your victory, but doing it in the locker room and with those you worked with to earn it.

    Unfortunately this article may represent the current state of sports. Be a mercenary, spit in the face of those you beat, give humility the middle finger…I guess that is just having fun right?

    • Saucy Takes

      Well said and if we beat OU this year I hope we don’t rush the field and act like it wasn’t a surprise

    • T-Bone

      Thank you.

  • Brendan

    Whether he planted the flag or what planting the flag means is not the point. The fact that he apologized for something truly actually meant to do and certainly was not sorry for is the point. He shouldn’t apologize for that action any more than Justice should apologize for scoring a touchdown. It’s just what they do. He was forced to apologize by someone that thought it was important for him to do so. Therein lies the rub.

    If he really meant to do that he shouldn’t apologize for it. It’s done. Can’t change the past & he shouldn’t anyway.

    If comeuppance rears its head, take it the same way you dished it.

  • davids

    Lincoln Riley handled himself very well in his post game interview. I liked the way he deflected the “ME” question and made it about the team. As much as I didn’t care for Baker’s celebration, it was all about Baker more so than the team.

  • Shep

    KP’s love affair with Baker Mayfield just went to the next level. I find it disturbing.

  • pump handle

    KP, your man crush on Baker is nauseating and your gooner bloomers are showing again.

  • Pirate Pete

    Football is a game, anything short of some kind of battery that occurs on the field is really not to be taken seriously. There are real things out there to be outraged at. For example, white supremacists waving Nazi flags, or dirtbags raising prices on life saving medications. WHY we are worried about this?? Football is a game and it’s embarrassing that people can spend so much time being outraged over something that is of such miniscule importance in the grand scheme of life.

  • T-Bone

    “If you go into the 110,000-person house of the No. 2 team in the country
    and torch them on national television with ludicrous throw after
    ludicrous throw, you get to plant the flag.”

    No, you get to show sportsmanship and get a W in the win column. Then you go and celebrate with your team without needing to antagonize and belittle the opposition. You congratulate them on their competitiveness and fair play.

    Winning doesn’t give you some right to act like an ass and scream in the losers face. It’s childish, immature, and low class.

    And no, I wouldn’t want my team doing that if we won bedlam. Sad to see the lack of sportsmanship from OSU fans.