For a couple days in January, the biggest story in the football world was whether Ohio State quarterback Cardale Jones would return to school or enter the 2015 NFL draft. But Jones’s coach says that story never should have been a story at all.
Ohio State coach Urban Meyer told the FOX Sports Audible podcast that while the media made an issue of it, he never thought Jones leaving was even a possibility.
“Someone asks me, ‘Is Cardale staying or going?’ I thought ‘Where’s he going?’ I didn’t even think twice about the NFL because he’s only played three games,” Meyer said.
According to Meyer, Jones never gave any indication that he was considering turning pro, and Meyer heard that speculation only from the media.
“He said, ‘I’m not ready, and I want to get my degree.’ And so I think the media made a huge deal out of it,” Meyer said. “But I don’t think there was ever — he might have talked about it on his own or with some other people, but there was zero conversation with me.”
Meyer may be right that there were more discussions in the media bout whether Jones would turn pro than there were serious conversations among Jones’s camp or the people at Ohio State. But what Meyer neglects to mention is that Jones is in a unique position because he was a third-string quarterback who only played because quarterbacks Braxton Miller and J.T. Barrett got injured. That means there’s a real chance that Jones will spend the 2015 season on the sideline. That’s why some people thought Jones should have turned pro — it’s not that anyone thinks Jones is ready for the NFL right now, it’s that some people think Jones won’t get any more ready than he already is, because he’ll spend the next year holding a clipboard.
And, of course, if Jones didn’t want the “will he or won’t he” question to become a big story, all he had to do was quietly stay at Ohio State. Instead, Jones chose to hold a press conference to publicize his decision.
So while the Jones situation was an unusual one, it was hardly one that was created by the media. It was created by Jones: First by playing so well in his three games as Ohio State’s starter that he established himself as an NFL prospect, and then by having a press conference. And Jones’s pro prospects will continue to be a story throughout the 2015 season, whether he’s Ohio State’s starter or is back to being a backup.