The battle between J.T. Barrett and Cardale Jones for the starting quarterback position will be the most scrutinized area by both the fans and the media as the Buckeyes prepare for the 2015 college football season. Everyone has an opinion on how it will turn out, but I thought I would go straight to a source who is as well-versed on the subject as anyone.
Stanley Jackson (@Jacksonville8) is a former Ohio State quarterback who knows a thing or two about what it is like to go through a quarterback battle, having experienced it himself with former teammate Joe Germaine during the 1996 and 1997 seasons. Mr. Jackson is an analyst for the Big Ten Network and WTVN 610 radio in Columbus, Ohio. Married with four children, living in Marion, Ohio, Mr. Jackson was kind enough to participate in a telephone interview after a work day at Buckeye State Bank, where he is owner and vice-president. The first part of the interview dealt more upon Mr. Jackson’s career, where part two focuses more upon the impending quarterback battle between J.T. Barrett and Cardale Jones.
CM: What if J.T. Barrett winds up as the starter? Just from my perspective, could you see maybe Cardale Jones getting the second half?
SJ: Coach Meyer has a history of platooning guys, with Chris Leak and Tim Tebow. Here’s the problem with that. Both of these guys have the talent to possibly win the Heisman Trophy or be an All-American. They are both special. I don’t like platooning. I think you have to make a choice. I think back to when Joe and I were platooning, and neither one of us were picked as All-Big Ten; the year Joe was the starter, Joe was All-Big Ten. I would love for them to say that this is an open competition; whoever comes out on top is going to be the guy. As good a run that Cardale Jones had, Cardale became the starter because J.T. Barrett was injured – I don’t think a player should ever lose a job due to injury. I like both kids. I think they are both very worthy, they both deserve it, I think it is going to be a hard fought battle. I would hate to see a platoon system. I hope Coach Meyer picks a guy, and goes with him, no matter who it is. You can sometimes run two different offenses, and that can become confusing for the group as well.
CM: How surprised were you with the news that Braxton Miller was changing positions? Was that something you anticipated?
SJ: I am not very surprised. It was a tough decision for Braxton. My gut tells me that the arm has not healed enough for Braxton to be able to make all the throws. Very rarely do you see a kid make a decision like that when they can still play quarterback and switch; they have a love for the position and they want to prove everyone wrong. You look at Denard Robinson, who has emerged as a good running back in the NFL; everyone knew just from his pure stature that he was not going to play quarterback in the NFL. It took him losing his shoulder at Michigan before he made the position switch. I grieve with Braxton that he had to make the choice, and Coach Meyer is telling everyone to pump the brakes, but I think it is more about Braxton’s health than about a possible NFL career. If Braxton goes out and runs a 4.3, benches well, runs a tremendous shuttle time, the NFL will look at him for sure, because they want athletes. I think Braxton would like to go out with a bang, but I think it is difficult to win the Heisman as a wide receiver or an H-Back. The last wide receiver to win the Heisman also returned kicks (Notre Dame’s Tim Brown in 1987). Also, all of the talent at Ohio State is working against him – are you stealing touches from Mike Thomas, Jalin Marshall, Curtis Samuel, Dontre Wilson, Ezekiel Elliott? All of those players are special football players. It is a tough thing.
CM: You mentioned earlier about your career and how you had a period of growing up, needing to mature, and things you may have done differently. Ohio State recruited two quarterbacks in Joe Burrow and Torrance Gibson. What kind of advice would you give to those players as a former Ohio State quarterback as the season gets closer, as someone who has been down the path they are currently following?
SJ: That’s easy, whether you are redshirting or not. That’s another very interesting battle, because Braxton has moved to the H-Back, so you have to find the third quarterback. Two five-star quarterbacks coming in, both had outstanding high school careers. One of those guys is going to compete to be the third guy. Not that it means whoever wins the battle this year is going to keep that pole position, but that could put you in the catbird seat for when J.T. Barrett graduates. That’s an important race there. Either way, redshirting or not, what I would tell both of those guys is don’t waste a year. It is very easy to waste this year and lay back, not watch film like you’re a starter, not throw balls like you’re a starter, not be attentive at practice like you’re a starter. Then if they take you and have you run the scout team it can make it even easier for you to check out. Don’t check out on these minutes; this is your foundation year. You are building a foundation for the rest of your career at Ohio State. The reality for me is I was in a situation where I was the third string guy behind Bob Hoying and Bret Powers. Tom Hoying, Mark Zban, and I all competed for the third string spot all fall camp, and it was exciting then, but once the battle was over, it was not exciting anymore. Tom and Mark were running scout team, and they were getting more reps than I was because I was the third string guy, and I was watching most of the time, and it lost its luster for me. There were a lot of days when I wasted time, I checked out, and I wasn’t learning or getting better. I wasn’t throwing balls, and I didn’t stay extra after practice; a lot of times, I was probably the first guy off the practice field, so I wasted the year. Don’t waste the year. Every moment is vital. Get better every play.
CM: Last question, and this is more of a personal request. You work for The Big Ten Network as an analyst – I love when they show these Ohio State classic games, but they never show Ohio State defeating Alabama in The Sugar Bowl, or Ohio State defeating Oregon for the national championship. Anyone you can talk to at BTN about playing those games?
SJ: Don’t worry; they are chomping at the bit to play those games. Those are probably the two most watched games in the history of Ohio State football, maybe even The B1G with the beginning of the playoff run. I am not 100% sure, but as we were working those games, we could not show all of the clips. Those games were shown on ESPN and Fox Sports. I am not sure what the deal is with ESPN and how long they get that stuff, but eventually the license will run the course and BTN will be able to show those games. BTN will love to show those games. Those games are still being shown on ESPN. I will certainly go on BTN and ask that question for you.
CM: Do you know if you will be an analyst for BTN at any Ohio State games, like maybe the Hawaii game on September 12th?
SJ: I think they are trying to keep me away from doing any Ohio State games; I have about five games this season. This is my second year providing color commentary. Glen Mason is also a Buckeye, and he is the main guy. He will get to do most of the Ohio State games on BTN.
CM: Your BTN duties begin soon?
SJ: BTN Live, then Big Ten Football And Beyond on Wednesdays, and I will be scattered across the network on Fridays, Saturdays, and Mondays.
CM: You will also be working with Coach Bruce, right?
SJ: That is fair to say. We have a podcast, and we are presently in negotations with WTVN 610.
CM: It is so great to hear you speak about all of the positive things that have come about after your career at Ohio State.
SJ: Thank you. Please be sure to send me a copy of the article when it comes out.
CM: Will do. Thank you, sir.
I cannot thank Mr. Jackson enough for his time and patience with participating in this interview. Please be sure to follow him on Twitter @Jacksonville8, as well as Mr. Jackson’s media opportunities via The Big Ten Network and WTVN 610 AM in Columbus, Ohio.