Baker Mayfield, who has a flair for the dramatic and occasionally the obscene, has put on another show this week -- simply by his absence.
The Oklahoma quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner was a no-show at Disneyland on Wednesday, the first media access for Rose Bowl week, because of flu-like symptoms. He was a no-show again Friday, when Oklahoma’s offensive players and coaches were made available. He also was absent for the first half of Saturday’s news conference ... until suddenly, there he was.
Announcement at 7:58 a.m. (Pacific time): “We’ve just been informed Baker Mayfield will not be here today.”
Announcement at 8:25 a.m.: “Baker Mayfield is now available.”
He didn’t look good. He didn’t sound good. I’d venture to say that he won’t be at 100 percent when he goes against Georgia in Monday’s Rose Bowl and college football semifinal game. Advantage: Bulldogs.
I asked Mayfield if he was concerned that his illness would affect him in the game. “No,” he said.
“I’m not dying. But I don’t feel 100 percent right now.”
Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley was asked the same question. “He’ll be fine. Will he be at 100 percent physically? We'll see. But he's not going to miss this one."
He looked pale and sounded hoarse Saturday. He sipped a cup of coffee with lemon because, “I’m tired of drinking tea.”
The biggest indication he wasn’t himself was his lack of obvious energetic. He’s usually talking and the highest-wattage light bulb in room.
This is someone known to fire back to fans.
Mayfield to Kansas fans: “Your school has one win! Go cheer on basketball!”
Mayfield to Baylor: “You forgot who Daddy is. I’m going to have to spank you today.”
Mayfield at Texas Tech (from he transferred): He wore a “Traitor” T-shirt.
Mayfield to the Kansas sideline: Late in the game, he grabbed his crotch and screamed an obscenity three times as he stared at the Jayhawks across the field.
But the Mayfield on display Saturday was weak and meek. He said he was sick before the team’s trip to California on Tuesday, and he got worse after arriving.
It’s difficult to imagine his condition not affecting his performance Monday. He might not be as sharp. He might not be as strong. He has been limited in practices.
But credit to him for showing up. He said he was in his room, near where the news conference was being held, watching the beginning on television.
“The first question to (coach Lincoln Riley) was about me. Coaches and teammate shouldn’t have to ask questions on my behalf. This isn’t about me. It's about Oklahoma. My teammates shouldn't have to answer questions on my behalf."
He has become a talking point for a different reason.