CFB AM: People crushing Ohio State’s Cardale Jones need to back off

The huge news in college football on Thursday, of course, was Ohio State quarterback Cardale Jones announcing he’s returning to the Buckeyes.

There was a lot of speculation that he would enter the NFL Draft considering how his announcement went down, and when he didn’t turn pro, there was immediate backlash at the spectacle Jones turned his decision into.

“I don’t know why you guys made it such a big deal,” Jones joked to media and supporters watching his press conference.

Wait. Before I defend Cardale, here’s why it was made into a big deal: Because he held a press conference to announce this news, which typically (although not always, as you’ll see) doesn’t happen when you’re coming back to school; because he held said press conference at Ginn Academy, his high school, and not Ohio State, which REALLY doesn’t happen when a kid comes back; because he teased a “life-changing decision” on Twitter all afternoon; because the press conference felt more like a coming-out party — with Drake’s “Started From The Bottom” blaring over speakers — rather than a return announcement.

So, yes Cardale, people had reason to make it a big deal and think you were heading to the NFL. But here’s where the “criticism” of how Jones made his announcement should end, and it’s hard to even say any “criticism” should be warranted.

Here’s why:

Yes, that’s Peyton Manning, one of the most successful and respected quarterbacks to ever play football, holding a press conference to announce he was returning to Tennessee. Just because it was more buttoned-up — and social media wasn’t around to dissect every second of this stuff — doesn’t make it any different than what Jones did.

More recently, Matt Barkley held a press conference at USC and walked the audience through an entire speech that included these words before the announcement: “I am prepared to play quarterback in the NFL. It is my dream to play quarterback in the NFL. And I intend to make that dream a reality.”

Finally, of course, Barkley got to his point and said he was coming back. And good for him!

I admit that I laughed at the show Jones made of his announcement and told a couple people in our L.A. office, “Really? All that just to come back?” But there was no harm done. Cardale didn’t do anything wrong in how he announced his decision. It’s not a referendum on his maturity, as some will make it out to be.

People need to chill and understand this is nothing new. Cardale Jones will play football at Ohio State in 2015, and at some point he’ll go to the NFL, and the only thing that will ever matter is if he’s good enough to cut it.

(h/t Black Sports Online)

THREE THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW

1. Stewart Mandel writes that Jones’ decision spurned the typical “go get paid” mantra and shows that money and the NFL Draft aren’t everything all the time.

Also: Ohio State coach Urban Meyer was on David Letterman’s show last night, and got a suggestion for how to handle the three-headed QB race.

2. Tyvis Powell is Cardale Jones’ roommate. Read his tweets leading up to the announcement. Just do it.

3. Pardon me as I pause all the fun we’re having, but we need to point out something incredibly ridiculous: The chairman of the NCAA’s executive committee at the time of the Penn State sanctions in 2012 admitted to not reading the Freeh Report — you know, the document which the PSU sanctions were founded on. Why? Because Ed Ray was vacationing in Hawaii, I guess couldn’t figure out how to use the Internet to download a PDF and then returned to his job a day before approving the consent decree — which he didn’t fully review, either.

Look, nobody feels sympathy for Penn State in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal. But good Lord, honest and fair processes still need to be administered when making all disciplinary decisions, especially severe ones that crush programs. Say whatever you want about Jay Paterno, but his strong stance against the Freeh Report and the NCAA’s actions has merit.

THREE THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW

1. With Year 1 of the College Football Playoff in the books, Mandel has a good postmortem piece looking at all the things that worked and didn’t about the process. Check it out when you have a couple minutes.

2. In case you forgot, here’s just how good Ohio State’s J.T. Barrett was this season (note: couple curse words in the music). I can envision a wicked two-QB system with him and Cardale complementing each other. How Braxton Miller fits in is a bit trickier.

3. Bruce Feldman and Mandel wrapped up the season and looked ahead with a new edition of The Audible, talking Ohio State, Michigan’s outlook, the SEC’s overhaul and much more. Listen here:

THREE THINGS YOU MAY WANT TO KNOW

1. UAB faculty voted “no confidence” in president Ray Watts — essentially saying they don’t trust him to perform the basic functions of his job — in the wake of his decision to cut UAB’s football program, among other decisions. It’s a strong stance, but what it actually means is less clear. Watts’ job status is determined by the board of trustees, not the Faculty Senate, and he received a vote of confidence from University of Alabama System Chancellor Robert Witt. "I have great personal and professional respect for Ray Watts and the leadership he is providing. I look forward to working with him as he continues to chart UAB’s future course," Witt said.

2. One more Feldman podcast for the weekend: He had a fun chat with new SMU coach Chad Morris.

3. Here’s a comprehensive look at Jim Harbaugh’s finalized Michigan coaching staff, per MGoBlog.

LASTLY

Speaking of Harbaugh, I already love him on Twitter. We get things like this at 3:44 a.m.

Preach, Jim.

I hope all of you have a great Friday and attack the weekend with Enthusiasm Unknown to Mankind.

Teddy Mitrosilis is an editor and writer for FOXSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @TMitrosilis and email him at tmitrosilis@gmail.com.