Cardale Jones was a thorn in Urban Meyer's side – until he was hoisting trophies.
In a video captured by Lori Schmidt of 610 WTVN, the now-retired former Buckeye head coach told a loose and hilarious story about Jones' near-miraculous growth from a "knucklehead" to the guy leading one of the most improbable three-game runs in college football history.
Meyer said Jones was "never a bad guy, just a clown" and certainly not ready to lead a football team. And until Braxton Miller went down with an injury, that was fine.
"If you're a third-string knucklehead – that's okay, cause you're not going to play," Meyer said.
Jones became the backup with one injury – which was troubling enough, as he continued to do things like forget to tape his ankles during a Thursday practice – but then he became the starter with another injury, when J.T. Barrett went down against Michigan.
"Then reality set in..." Meyer said with a smirk, as the crowd laughs. "The big boy is about to enter the game.
"I grabbed his shoulder pad, and I'm looking at him – I wanted to strangle him, but I don't – and I said 'Cardale, you can do this. You can do this.' And inside, I'm thinking, 'You have no chance to do this.'"
Ohio State ultimately won, but as Meyer points out with a smirk "not because of him." He completed two passes for a grand total of seven yards.
But then something switched in Jones ahead of the Wisconsin game in a way Meyer has never seen happen in anyone else. With the new-found maturity – and also Wisconsin playing right into Ohio State's game plan, as Meyer reveals – the Buckeyes blasted Wisconsin 59-0 to claim the Big Ten title.
You can watch the full video – featuring a candid and entertaining Urban Meyer – above.