Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield made it to Rose Bowl media day after all, swooping in late and providing a jolt of drama as he noted he has been dealing with ‘‘flu-like’’ symptoms.
The Heisman Trophy winner missed the first half of the 45-minute session Saturday morning at a downtown hotel, but arrived in time to meet with the media for the first time this week ahead of the College Football Playoff semifinal between the second-ranked Sooners and No. 3 Georgia on Monday evening.
In the other semifinal, No. 4 seed Alabama meets top-seeded Clemson in the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans on Monday night.
Mayfield was not expected to attend as he’s been dealing with the illness the past few days.
‘‘Yeah, I’m not dying,’’ Mayfield said.
Mayfield’s unexpected entrance had reporters and camera operators scrambling to get to the dais where he was speaking, in the corner of a ballroom crowded with reporters, plus Oklahoma’s entire roster and coaching staff. Mayfield said he changed his mind about missing media day after turning on the television at the team hotel and seeing coach Lincoln Riley answering questions about the quarterback’s status.
‘‘I realized this whole thing is not about me,’’ Mayfield said. ‘‘Oklahoma is here to play a playoff game. It’s not about any sickness that I have. We’re here to win a game, and that’s what it needs to be about. My teammates don’t need to answer questions on my behalf. I’m not dying. I’ll be playing.’’
Drinking a cup of coffee with honey and lemon because Mayfield was sick of drinking tea, the only noticeable sign of illness was his raspy voice. That was as much a product of yelling during practice Friday as it was being under the weather, Mayfield said.
‘‘I hope I’m 100 percent on Monday. I think I will be,’’ said Mayfield, who has thrown for 4,340 yards and 41 touchdowns this season.
Mayfield has been at practice each day this week. He said the practices have been a little tougher than usual.
‘‘But I’d rather go out there and practice than have to go do other activities. I’d rather by with my teammates and working on our game plan,’’ Mayfield said.
In the other semifinal, a rematch of the last two championship games, Alabama has used the month-long hiatus to figure out what to do at linebacker, where the Crimson Tide have been fighting injuries all season.
Linebackers Dylan Moses, Hootie Jones, and Shaun Dion Hamilton are unavailable to play in the Sugar Bowl. Moses’s injury perhaps speaks most to Alabama’s ill fortune at the linebacker spot; it happened during a practice after he’d made it to the end of the regular season healthy.
Jones, meanwhile, was injured during Alabama’s Iron Bowl loss to Auburn. Hamilton started the first nine games of the year before injuring his knee against LSU in early November.
‘‘The injuries, they mess up a lot of things. They mess up chemistry, they mess up schemes,’’ linebacker Rashaan Evans said. ‘‘We’ve lost some guys, gained some guys, we lost another guy . . . We just have to do what we can do with what we’ve got.’’