LOS ANGELES — The Baker Mayfield drama is over. Maybe. The Oklahoma quarterback will play against Georgia in the Rose Bowl, and the media finally heard it straight from his hoarse mouth.
Mayfield, the Heisman Trophy winning Oklahoma quarterback, had missed all his media sessions this week and was going to miss another one on Saturday morning. It already had been announced that Mayfield was too sick to attend.
But after about 15 minutes, Mayfield himself strode into the room, having decided on his own to show up.
“I’m not dying. But I don’t feel 100 percent right now,” said Mayfield, who said he’s been dealing with flu-like symptoms.
Mayfield’s voice was very raspy. He said he got sick around Christmas, but has felt better in recent days. He said he’s been drinking coffee with lemon and honey because he was “sick of drinking tea.”
“I’m feeling a bit better. You know, the biggest thing for me is just the energy level and my voice, as well,” Mayfield said. “Yesterday I felt great. The best I’ve felt in awhile. But this morning, I think yelling at practice did not help.”
Mayfield answered simply “no” when asked if it would have any effect on his performance in the game Monday. That’s the same exact two-letter response that coach Lincoln Riley gave when asked the same question.
“I would say that I’m as involved in anything football-wise,” Mayfield said. “I’ve been there for everything we’re doing schematically and practice-wise.”
Mayfield has been absent from previous team functions this week, other than practice, including media day Saturday, when every player and assistant coach is available. There was a podium reserved for Mayfield, but it was only announced just as Oklahoma’s delegation was entering the room that Mayfield would not attend.
Mayfield said he was watching the event on the television in his hotel room, and when he saw that the first question to Riley was about the sick quarterback, he decided it was time to come answer questions himself.
“Obviously I would have liked to have been here earlier, but I realized that players, teammates, these coaches would have to answer questions on my behalf,” Mayfield said. “They know I’m out there at practice. … I came here for them, so they wouldn’t have to keep answering questions.”
Riley also acknowledged that Mayfield has been limited in practice, though he did not elaborate. Riley only answered “a little bit” when asked if Mayfield has been limited.
“He’s just battling through,” Riley said, adding later: “I don’t think it’ll have any big effect on the game.”
Georgia coach Kirby Smart, speaking after Mayfield’s late appearance, said the situation wasn’t affecting their preparation at all.
“I mean, we’ve got guys sick too. It’s just not as big a deal because they didn’t win the Heisman,” Smart said. “So it is what it is. We’re preparing for Oklahoma with Baker Mayfield.”
Oklahoma players and assistant coaches had been instructed the past few days not to say much if anything on the status of their star quarterback. Team officials had only confirmed he was sick.
Mayfield was seen at practice on Thursday and Friday, when the Sooners weren’t doing much during the viewing period, so it was hard to ascertain how much he was doing in practice.
It’s basically just been practice and rest at the team hotel for Mayfield, according to Riley, who said they were trying to “keep on top” of it to get the quarterback better.
Riley was asked if any other Oklahoma player had caught a bit of what Mayfield had.
“We’ve got a few guys here and there who have been a little sick. But I don’t know that anybody’s had exactly what he’s had,” Riley said. “I think his deal is a little more isolated.”