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How Oklahoma football rivals became buddies

🕐 4 min read

An AP Member Exchange shared by the Tulsa World

TULSA, Okla. (AP) — Spring break of 2015, Mason Rudolph was going about his business with the 19 or so other Oklahoma State Cowboys and Oklahoma Sooners sharing a Destin, Florida, Bedlam beach house . when a late arrival barged in.

“He jumped right into the pool,” Rudolph recalled to the Tulsa World (http://bit.ly/2bRpVoB ). “I was like, ‘Who’s this kid running around in everyone’s face?’ “

Mason Rudolph . meet Baker Mayfield.

The private, pensive, stand-in-the-pocket quarterback from Oklahoma State University spent the rest of the week trying to avoid the public, playful, make-it-up-as-he-goes-along quarterback from the University of Oklahoma. Right? They might have been brought together by mutual friends on the two teams, but surely they wouldn’t stay together. Yes?

Wrong. No.

“We started bonding from there,” Mayfield said. “We started talking. You can relate to somebody at your same position and talk about the same things with him. We became good friends.”

It takes some myth-busting to tell this story.

Let’s start with this one: Bedlam’s bad blood starts with the players and spills out into the fan bases. Hardly. It starts with the fan bases and more or less ends with them. They’re the ones lobbing snowballs or vulgarities onto the players at Boone Pickens Stadium and Owen Field.

The players keep it civil. That goes, particularly, for the two starting quarterbacks who migrated from South Carolina and Texas.

“I grew up in Austin. My rivalry and blood hatred is kind of for (the University of Texas),” Mayfield said. “Coming to Oklahoma, Bedlam is more of a new thing, knowing what it’s really all about. It doesn’t change the relationship I have with Mason. I have so much respect for him and his game.”

Myth No. 2: Two quarterbacks battling for Bedlam bragging rights, Big 12 championships and New Year’s Six bowl invitations can’t stop their competition and acknowledge each other. It turns out Mayfield wasn’t the only conference quarterback pleased about the Big 12’s June decision to return the year of eligibility he lost after leaving Texas Tech.

“I was happy for him, for sure,” Rudolph said. “We get to face off another two years. That’s only right, I feel like. A guy like him going through what he went through, to get his eligibility back, I think it was a good call.”

Rudolph said as much when the two quarterbacks attended the Manning Passing Academy together six weeks ago. They said a lot of things.

“Mason and I roomed right next to each other,” Mayfield said. “He was right next door.”

They talked shop. Reads, throws, motions. Technical jargon.

“Experiences being in the game,” Mayfield said. “How they work out and how they do different things and compare and contrast. We’ll say what we like about it and what we don’t. Basically see what each other does and try to relate even more. It allows us to become better friends.”

It isn’t ’round-the-clock football, mind you. The vibe from the beach house remains strong.

“Usually we’re chillin’ out and hangin’ out and it’s just kind of college guy talk,” Rudolph said. “Class … just stuff.”

Rudolph’s grin gave him away. Some things are better kept off the record.

“Yeah,” he said, “it’s a good time.”

Myth No. 3: When the Bedlam quarterbacks mix, it’s like Kevin Hart out with Bill Belichick.

“Mason is laid-back. He’s very professional about what he does,” Mayfield said. “But he knows how to have fun, too, and relax and kick back after he’s done. He’s a funny guy. You guys don’t see that, but he can crack some jokes. I’ll keep that private, but we have fun together.”

Rudolph allowed us a peek behind the curtain last May via an Instagram video showing him completing a pass to a jet ski rider on Virginia’s Lake Anna. Nothing indecent, just a refreshing moment that proves he’s as much college kid as college quarterback.

You hope fans who get overly lathered at Bedlam in December remember that scene.

You hope they consider the connection between the dude tossing passes at the lake and the one jumping into the pool by the beach.

You hope they realize that some things are bigger than a heated in-state rivalry. Some things are more important.

Relationships among them.

“When it comes game time, yeah, I’m trying to win,” Mayfield said. “At the same time, I’ll never disrespect Mason.”

Said Rudolph, “He’s loud. He’s always talking. He’s the jokester of the group. He’s a cool guy to hang out with. No, Baker is a good dude. We were tight from Day 1.”

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