MORGANTOWN — June is starting to become a hectic month for the Oklahoma football program.
Last year, head coach Bob Stoops abruptly retired after winning 190 games and a national title with the Sooners, in 2000. O.U. quickly hired Lincoln Riley to be the new head coach, which — after last season, where the Sooners went to the College Football Playoff — seems to have paid off.
This year, another curveball was thrown into the plans. Kyler Murray, who many expect to replace Baker Mayfield as the starting quarterback, was selected much higher in the Major League Baseball draft than many expected. He hit.296 with 10 home runs, 47 RBIs and 10 stolen bases this season, a big leap from where he was last year.
It wasn’t a surprise that Murray was drafted, but the Oakland A’s scooping him up with the No. 9 overall pick had many in Norman nervous that the signal-caller would decide to skip his final season of college football and take the money — about $4.7 million — rather than risk injury.
Here’s the thing: Murray is allowed to sign with the A’s and play football for the Sooners this year. If he decides to play football, which seems likely, he will make more money this season than his head coach, Riley, who will make $3.1 million.
The NCAA made Central Florida football player Donald De La Haye choose between his YouTube channel and his playing career, but will allow Murray to make millions in professional baseball and play football for Oklahoma.
The issue isn’t with Murray’s decision. If he can earn millions playing a game, and play another sport he seems to sincerely love while risking it all, more power to him. This just goes back to complete hypocrisy of the NCAA rule book about what’s allowed and what’s not. This is the same organization that laid down a violation against Oregon when a football staffer bought shaving cream and a razor for a recruit who forget his at home.
Sorry, my left eye started to twitch a little bit.
Anyway, back to Murray.
Riley released a statement on Murray on Tuesday, reassuring that Murray will play football at O.U. this season.
“As Kyler and I discussed prior to the Major League Baseball draft, we’re excited to have him here with us for this upcoming football season. We’re looking forward to getting him back around our team this summer, and he’s excited to get into workouts and help us continue to pursue another championship. We’re also equally excited for his opportunity with Major League Baseball and being the ninth pick in the draft. It’s a great honor for him and he’s going to have some great options going forward.”
It also appears Oakland knew before drafting Murray that he would likely still play football.
“The risk of the football, in our opinion, was outweighed by the upside on the baseball field,” A’s director of scouting Eric Kubota told the San Francisco Chronicle. “We’re totally on board with his desire to play quarterback at Oklahoma, and frankly, we’re kind of excited to be Oklahoma fans for 12 games. That’s not easy for a Cal guy to say.”
Murray has until July 13 to make his decision, and regardless of what it will be, it will pay big dividends toward the Big 12 landscape. If Murray leaves to play baseball right away, that leaves Austin Kendall as the favorite to win the starting job. While Kendall is talented, he doesn’t carry the same weight as Murray.
If you’re a fan of another Big 12 team, especially one that has championship aspirations, like WVU, you hope Murray puts football behind him.