Audio: Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield talks to the media after winning a road game against Kansas.
By Greg Echlin
Of all the Power 5 football conferences (Big 12, Big Ten, SEC, ACC and Pac-12), only Duke’s home game against Georgia Tech over the weekend had a smaller announced crowd (20,141) than the game in Lawrence between Kansas and No. 4 ranked Oklahoma (22,854).
So what did KU’s game captains do to fire up the Jayhawks fans not dressed up in Sooners gear? Refuse to shake hands at the coin toss with Sooners quarterback Baker Mayfield. How about that for upperclassmen leadership! Really?
To top it off, after the game, when Jayhawks third-year coach David Beaty was asked from the outset of his post-game news conference about the gestures—or in this case a non-gesture—of his captains, he responded, “You’re going to stick your feet in the ground and you’re going to defend your grass. I think we’ve got to display it better than that, obviously, but I get it.”
Beaty added, “I understand where they’re coming from. I’ve got to do a better job as their coach. Maybe teaching them how to manage that a little better.”
Isn’t sportsmanship one of the first basic principles taught at the beginner’s level of any sport?
Granted, Sooners quarterback Baker Mayfield didn’t handle himself well later in the game with some of the gestures he made. But the tone was already set for that type of behavior with KU’s display by its three game captains—Joe Dineen Jr., Dorance Armstrong Jr. and Daniel Wise—before the kickoff. Then in the Jayhawks post-game interview room, only Lawrence native Dineen Jr. addressed questions while the other two Jayhawks players ducked out.
Mayfield, on the other hand, was openly apologetic in the compact visitors media room and then later on through Twitter. His actions overshadowed the clinching of a berth in the Big 12 title game by OU (10-1, 7-1).
If KU wants to make statement, here’s a novel idea: Play better than losing to the Sooners, 41-3, and dropping to 1-10 (0-8 in the Big 12) this season.
It’s bad enough to alienate a fan base so badly that, if it’s not a KU basketball game, it largely wasn’t even aware the Jayhawks were playing their last football home game of the year. It’s not hard to explain why more and more aren’t showing up. Adding insult, KU is in the midst of a true road game losing streak—45 straight—that’s the worst ever among major college football programs.
The immediate outlook doesn’t look any more promising as KU focuses on its final game of the year at Oklahoma State.