“I wanted to stay with my team one more year,” Jones said. “I want to go out and win a national championship and accomplish one of the goals that I wanted to get done.”
Before leaving for Australia, Hand laughed when asked if she was the reason Jones declined turning professional.
“He claims it wasn't because of me and I told him if it was then I'd be really angry,” she said. “No, I think he wanted to leave with a good taste in his mouth. I think he was pretty disappointed after last season and thought he could achieve more and the team could collectively achieve more. I think he would have regretted leaving with another shot to achieve what he set out to achieve.”
At OU media day, coach Bob Stoops insisted Jones' decision to stay will improve his chances of making it professionally, citing Peyton and Eli Manning as examples of NFL starting quarterbacks who exhausted their college eligibility. In fact, 20 of this season's 32 projected NFL starters did so.
Projected as a first-rounder, Jones watched three fellow Big 12 quarterbacks — Robert Griffin III, Ryan Tannehill and Brandon Weeden — go in Round 1 and sign contracts worth between $12.6 million and $21 million. But Jones' decision ultimately came down to a comfortable feeling and, he said, that comfortable feeling is still in Oklahoma.
It's in the stadium where he'll play his home games and in the arena 1.3 miles down Jenkins Ave. where his new bride will play hers.
“It's great. It's so much fun,” Hand said of finally being married. “We're both fifth-year (seniors) so a lot of our friends are gone so it's been a really great transition. It's exciting for everything to be right and comfortable.
“And it's fun to get to kind of be in that safe place with each other and live together and start our journey.”