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The backlash to Urban Meyer's comments about Cardale Jones and school completely misses the point

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Urban Meyer wasn't criticizing his former quarterback's intelligence or otherwise. And not loving the school part of college is hardly an indictment of anyone.

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Over the weekend, a number of websites broke out a single line talking point from a 1,200-word interview between the Akron Beacon Journal and Ohio State football coach Urban Meyer. The subject of the interview focused on the difficulty of projecting Buckeyes quarterback Cardale Jones to the next level.

Headlines like "Urban Meyer: Cardale Jones 'wasn't very good at school'" were all over Google News and the like.

The full context of that singular talking point in a much longer phone interview with Ohio.com is that Meyer is saying that it's hard to evaluate Cardale.

"A really good skill set, intellectual, very smart, wasn’t necessarily very good at school," Meyer told Ohio.com. "I wonder if that kind of set him back a little bit. That’s one difference between pro and college -- now he doesn’t have to worry about classes and going to school and all that stuff. He can focus completely on football."

In Meyer speak, while Jones has an excellent set of natural abilities, he wasn't into the academic requirements of being an undergraduate student-athlete.

But hey, remember that one tweet that one time?

It's a funny, Alanis Morisette definition of ironic coincidence. It's also a dumb jumping-off point to unfairly dog a young person's intellect, mostly for football, personality, or worse reasons.

Jones, if you're not a college football partisan or didn't pay attention to the Buckeyes after they failed to defend their Big Ten East divisional crown, was named OSU's starting quarterback last fall in a relative surprise. While Jones had led Ohio State to an improbable national championship, J.T. Barrett was back to full health (Barrett, who'd gotten the job in the first place after an injury to Braxton Miller, went down with a season-ending injury in their final regular season game of the year).

Cardale is a big guy (6'5, 250 pounds) with an even bigger cannon for an arm who in somewhat typecast fashion struggles with accuracy but moves surprisingly well for someone of his build. Occasionally suspect decision-making aside, he does the kind of things you'd expect from a player like him.

Jones' stint as Ohio State starter was contentious at best. With OSU moving to a slightly different iteration of their previous offense under a new playcaller, he never really seemed confident or secure in his place as starter. With the Buckeyes rotating quarterbacks early and often as soon as Jones failed to cement his name on the top job, he fell out of favor quickly with the fan base. Barrett, who regained the starting job, didn't put up much better stats over the entirety of the season, but his skill set unquestionably was a better fit for the various issues surrounding the Buckeye offense.

The frustrations with the state of an offense that'd carved through very good Wisconsin, Alabama and Oregon defenses culminated in fans far and wide, even some of Ohio State's own, micro-nitpicking Jones and even lobbing more sinister venom his direction through places like social media. Jones arguably didn't do himself any favors by being quite the bombastic presence there both before and after his on-the-field success and struggles alike.

But draft analysts and scouts have been pretty clear that despite having been benched a redshirt junior year he didn't really even need to come back for in the first place and been booed by his own fans at home, his draft stock has far from bottomed out.

Meyer's entire bottom line in the interview is basically the same conventional wisdom that's been out on Cardale since his first ever start for the Buckeyes

"Whoever drafts him will have to have a little bit of patience," Meyer said. "The unfortunate thing in the NFL: There’s not a whole lot of patience."

The book on Cardale hasn't really changed. And hey, it's funny four years ago he tweeted about not liking the class portion of being a college football player, and then his head coach said he didn't exactly thrive in an academic environment. But pretending Meyer is somehow validating bad tweets or insinuating Jones is not intelligent is disingenuous at best.

Even if Jones' clear, longstanding distaste for the academic requirements of the college experience wasn't previously entered into the record, it's probably worth reminding ourselves that not loving school and/or giving it your undivided focus isn't the same as being unintelligent.

In the end, Jones may have said it best.

"I don’t think I get a lot of credit for how cerebral I am when it comes to being the quarterback. I think I’m ready for that level. Only time will tell."

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