DALLAS — While Urban Meyer was doing most of the talking, Cardale Jones owned the room.
Ohio State’s rising star quarterback was all big grins, silly smirks, rolling eyes and mischievous glances Tuesday, the day after he helped the Buckeyes roll Oregon 42-20 to win the first College Football Playoff national championship.
Jones said that he’s not ready for the NFL. But after just three college starts, the 22-year-old, third-year sophomore is in a unique position. Should he stay or should he go?
“Cardale’s brand right now has never been stronger, might never be stronger again in his life,” Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said.
On the other hand, the 6-foot-5, 250-pounder from Cleveland is still a raw — though enticing — prospect.
“I’m amazed at the speed and quickness he has for a guy that weighs over 250 pounds,” said former NFL executive Gil Brandt, who now works as an analyst for the NFL Network.
“But his passes, some are on the money, some are low, some are high and some are wide.”
Jones is eligible for early entry to the NFL draft because he is at more than three years removed from graduating high school. The deadline for underclassmen to declare for the draft is Thursday.
Brandt said Jones has the talent to be selected, probably somewhere in the back half of the seven-round draft, but he would be better served developmentally by another year playing college football.
But there is the rub: Ohio State could have three star quarterbacks on the roster next season with Jones, J.T. Barrett and Braxton Miller. Jones is not guaranteed to be the starter.
Playoff gets better TV ratings
ARLINGTON, Texas — The new College Football Playoff succeeded in drawing a larger television audience to the championship game.
Ohio State’s 42-20 victory over Oregon on Monday averaged nearly 33.4 million viewers on ESPN. The network said Tuesday that’s up 31 percent from the almost 25.6 million for Florida State’s win over Auburn last year in the final title game of the BCS era.
The biggest audience for the four championships that had aired on ESPN was 27.3 million for the 2011 matchup between Auburn and Oregon.
The 18.2 rating Monday was the second-highest for a title game, behind the massive 21.7 for the 2006 classic between Texas and Southern Cal in the Rose Bowl.
Irish OL Stanley returning
SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Notre Dame left tackle Ronnie Stanley will return to school next season rather than enter the NFL draft.
The 6-foot-5, 315-pound Stanley said Tuesday he made the decision after watching the national championship game, saying he believes the Fighting Irish could have a special team next year. The Irish return nine starters on offense and 10 on defense from this year’s 8-5 team and also are expected to return several starters who missed this past season because of academic dishonesty.
Stanley is a junior academically who has two years of eligibility left. He has started every game the past two seasons, at right tackle in 2013 and left tackle this past season.
OU assistant Wright retires
NORMAN, Okla. — Oklahoma assistant head coach Bobby Jack Wright has retired from coaching.
The school made the announcement on Tuesday.
The 64-year-old Wright most recently coached cornerbacks. He has been with the Sooners during coach Bob Stoops’ entire 16-year run. He coached defensive ends, defensive backs and special teams at various times and was recruiting coordinator from 1999 to 2004.
Former Ole Miss star dies
JACKSON, Miss. — Former Ole Miss football star Doug Cunningham has died. He was 69.
Family friend Ben Nelson said Cunningham died Tuesday from complications of dementia at St. Dominic’s hospital in Jackson. He says funeral arrangements are incomplete pending an autopsy.
Cunningham had an accomplished career with the Rebels as a tailback and wingback from 1964-66, helping the program reach three straight bowl games. He averaged 8.8 yards every time he touched the football during his college career.
Cunningham then had an eight-year career in the NFL, including seven seasons with the San Francisco 49ers and one with the Washington Redskins.
Hatfield gets Stagg Award
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Former Arkansas football player and football coach Ken Hatfield has been given the 2015 Amos Alonzo Stagg Award by the American Football Coaches Association.
The award recognizes outstanding achievement in the advancement of football. It was presented Tuesday.
Hatfield coached Air Force, Arkansas, Clemson and Rice, and retired in 2005 after coaching the Owls. He led his teams to 10 bowl games and had three teams finish with 10-win seasons.
Hill enters not guilty plea
STILLWATER, Okla. — Tyreek Hill, an all-Big 12 return man who was dismissed from Oklahoma State’s football and track teams after he was charged with domestic abuse last month, pleaded not guilty Tuesday in Payne County District Court.
Court documents show that Hill appeared before a judge with attorney Cheryl Ramsey. His preliminary hearing is set for March 9.
According to a report from the Stillwater Police Department, Hill’s pregnant girlfriend said the couple had an argument that escalated into physical violence on Dec. 11.
Hill’s 92-yard punt return for a touchdown was the highlight of Oklahoma State’s comeback victory over Oklahoma less than a week before the incident. He was named first-team all-Big 12 days before his arrest. His 996 combined kick return yards ranked second in the nation.