On Oct. 6, 2012, it would have been nearly impossible to believe that freshman quarterback Cardale Jones would be the starter for Ohio State in a Big Ten Championship Game.
That day, Jones was suspended for Ohio State’s game against Nebraska after sending a tweet that read, “Why should we have to go to class if we came here to play FOOTBALL, we ain’t come to play SCHOOL, classes are POINTLESS.”
Jones, now a redshirt sophomore, will make the first start of his career on Saturday against Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship, after starter J.T. Barrett fractured his ankle in the fourth quarter of last week’s win against Michigan.
Although it was over two years ago, Jones continues to be most well-known for that ill-advised tweet, something that goes to show the power of social media, said Patrick Maks, beat writer for Eleven Warriors.
“Anything you tweet, even if you have a private account, it doesn’t matter because someone could take a screenshot and tweet it from their public account,” said Maks. “I mean, nothing you share on social media is ever private and it’s pretty much always there, that’s why it’s social media.”
The Ohio State Student Athlete Social Media Policy reflects this, saying, “Student-athletes should understand that participating in athletics at The Ohio State University is a privilege and not a right. Therefore, student-athletes have no right to expect privacy in what they post on social media.”
Maks believes that Jones’ mistake has helped other student athletes be smarter about what they post.
“You can’t be a normal 18-to-22-year old kid in this day in age, not, at least, on social media,” Maks said. “You have to be really by the book. And I think what Cardale’s tweet serves as a lesson in a lot of ways is you can’t really just tweet whatever comes to mind because people are watching you. You’re constantly under a microscope.”
“And I think with that, you see a lot of players have gotten smarter about Twitter,” he continued.
As to whether Jones can get away from being known for that tweet, Maks is unsure.
“I don’t think Cardale’s ever going to be able to outrun that tweet, but I think he’s done a pretty solid job of not acting quite as brash on Twitter,” Maks said of Jones, who opened a new Twitter account in July after deleting his old one in the aftermath of his infamous tweet.
Kyle Fullmer, a fourth-year in psychology, however, said that a good performance in the Big Ten Championship would go a long way in helping people forget about the tweet.
“That’s what I certainly hope for at least,” said Fullmer. “But I think if he does a good job at that game, then yes…that tweet’s definitely going to get brushed aside. There’s still going to be some people who will try to remember it, but if he does well tomorrow, people are going to remember him for his successful athletic history.”
Although Maks thinks that the tweet will likely always follow Jones, the public perception of him may begin to change if he leads Ohio State to a victory in the Big Ten Championship.
“If you’re Cardale Jones, you’re kind of at a juncture where the only way to overcome that tweet, and how that kind of has shaped your legacy, is to create a new legacy for yourself,” said Maks.
“He’s never going to outrun that tweet,” Maks continued. “But at the same time, if he leads Ohio State to the Big Ten Championship in such a crazy week it’s been for them in a lot of different ways, I think people are going to start remembering Cardale for the kid who stepped up when his number was called in a really frantic situation.”