I was going to write about the Cavs, but that mess is something that the experts are having trouble figuring out. I’d be wasting my time adding to the pile of “hot” takes on the .500 team. Instead, I feel the need to write about Ohio State QB Cardale Jones after his press conference yesterday. Jones stunned everyone by deciding to return to school next year instead of going to the NFL. As a college student myself, I am impressed with the maturity of Jones in deciding to get his degree before going pro, but I believe that the ancillary distractions of his press conference mean he has not grown up as much as fans would like to believe.
The part of the story everyone already knows is that Cardale Jones started the season as the third-string quarterback for the Buckeyes, but injuries forced him into a starting role for the team’s final three games. All Jones did was win the Big 10 Championship game, the College Football Playoff Semifinal, and lastly, the inaugural CFP National Championship Game. His performance presented qualms for Mel Kiper Jr. and the army of draft prognosticators as the redshirt sophomore could have chosen to go pro. I applaud this decision from Jones, as his choice exemplified that of a true student athlete, taking his education seriously and putting it at least on par with playing football.
Yes, Jones did make a decision to put his education first, but I’m confused over how much of his decision is really due to the genuine belief that he should finish his degree. Hasn’t Jones been missing class for games, namely the three extra games they had to play? You know, those three that Jones started? How about all of the travel days and prep days on location in Louisiana and Texas? I am not blaming Jones for these conflicts, but I believe the quarterback is at fault with the press conference. He was able to miss class and travel to the Cleveland area for the press conference. If Cardale Jones really took his education as seriously as he wants fans to believe, he would not have missed class to hold a press conference in a different city on a Thursday afternoon! I doubt the quarterback showed up for class yesterday or today because of the trip.
That’s not the only beef I have with Jones. He showed up to his press conference wearing a t-shirt. Why was Jones criminally underdressed? He decided to wear a shirt that says “12 Gauge Buckshot” on the front, a self-referential nod at his powerful throwing arm. That’s smart branding if he gets a cut, but that isn’t allowed for an NCAA athlete. If he chose to go pro, then Jones could get a cut from shirt sales. But he didn’t so a local store will get a boost in sales and Cardale will see none of that.
All of this leads to one truth: Cardale Jones led fans on and played each and every one of us for fools. Did anyone else see this tweet from yesterday, promoting his “life changing decision” prior to the presser?
Life changing decision at 4pm
— Cardale Jones (@CJ12_) January 15, 2015
Just calling a press conference is Jones giving fans the assumption that he is going pro. Tweeting about it just added to the drama. Those 29 characters were sent at 1:37 PM, less than two and a half hours prior to the press conference. Could Jones have changed his mind in this short window? Yes. Did he? Probably not. That press conference just comes across as slimy, a spectacle on par with LeBron James’ infamous 2010 “Decision.”
Nobody seems to be looking at the whole story revolving around Cardale Jones as a student athlete. Most fans are applauding him for returning to school without considering the classes he missed to hold a presser, let alone the idea of holding a press conference to make an announcement that did not need a press conference. Don’t get me wrong, I genuinely applaud Cardale Jones for deciding to return to Ohio State for another year. He is a resilient kid and I’m sure he meant well in this endeavor. His maturity showed in the decision itself, but the ancillary issues that came with holding a self-promoting press conference cloud the sincerity of returning to school.