OU got three years of Baker Mayfield, so it can settle for one year of Kyler Murray
Kyler Murray will not be in Frisco, Texas, next week. Obviously a political decision by Lincoln Riley, who has declared the Oklahoma quarterback job open and can't very well take Murray to Big 12 Media Days unless Austin Kendall goes, too.
But Murray is the Sooners' presumptive starter, for all kinds of reasons. The eyeball test. Pedigree. Circumstances. Common sense.
Don't discount the latter. When Murray was picked ninth overall in the baseball draft last month and soon signed a $4.6 million contract with the Oakland Athletics, and the A's immediately endorsed Murray playing one final season of college football, the handwriting was not only on the check. It was on the wall.
You don't delay the second coming of Rickey Henderson so someone can play mop-up minutes against Kansas.
“I worked hard for the opportunity to quarterback the University of Oklahoma,” Murray told California media on June 15. “Obviously, for me, that's a huge deal for this organization to let me do that.”
Murray is the highest-drafted baseball player ever who simultaneously is involved in another collegiate sport. Kirk Gibson of World Series fame was the 12th overall pick in 1978, then spent that autumn as a Michigan State flanker. Oklahoma State quarterback Josh Fields was the 18th overall baseball pick in 2004 but skipped out on his final season of college football to join the White Sox organization immediately. Bummer for those Cowboys, who were a passer away from being big-time good.
Murray has two years of football eligibility remaining but will use only one. This was a compromise straight out of Solomon. The A's can't be too displeased, since Murray can report next winter and will be only a half-season behind. The Sooners can't be too displeased, since Murray fell from the sky anyway, transferring from Texas A&M. And even if Murray becomes a championship quarterback, Soonerville can't be too distraught that he's one-and-done. OU will have had a championship season.
In fact, a solitary season of Murray seems a fair trade with the football gods. Remember, what appeared to be two years of Baker Mayfield turned out to be three. And that's a swap the Sooners always will embrace.
What goes around comes around. Mayfield transferred to OU in January 2014 well aware of the Big 12 rule regarding transfers within the conference. The loss of a year's eligibility was absolute. When Mayfield left Lubbock, he had three years eligibility remaining. When he enrolled in Norman, that eligibility was reduced to two.
In June 2016, the Big 12 famously rejected a rule that would have removed non-recruited walkons from the reduced eligibility rule regarding transfers. The Sooner brass responded with swords and torches — hell hath no fury like an Oklahoma quarterback scorned — and the very next day, conference fathers approved a revised rule.
The vote gave Mayfield a fourth season in the Big 12. That fourth season was 2017. Perhaps you recall. A Big 12 championship for OU. A Heisman Trophy for Mayfield. A College Football Playoff berth for the Big 12.
Three seasons of Mayfield and one season of Murray, instead of two and two, is a dang good deal.
Without that third season of Mayfield, who knows where OU football would be? Murray likely would have been the 2017 quarterback. Maybe the Sooners would have prospered, maybe not. Maybe Murray would have kept up his baseball skills, maybe not.
Heck, it's possible that giving Mayfield a third Sooner season is the reason Bob Stoops no longer is the OU coach. Stoops always has said he chose to step down in June 2017 because the program was in great shape and Riley was ready to take over. But the primary reason the program was in great shape was because it had a Heisman-caliber quarterback.
If the Sooners were transitioning to Murray, would Stoops have stepped aside? Only he knows for sure.
What we do know is that the Big 12 gave Mayfield that third Sooner season, Stoops used it to launch the Riley Era and everyone was a winner. The school. The conference. The quarterback.
Now fate has gone the other way. It has shaved a season off Mayfield's successor. No one in Norman can complain.
Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.