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Winston Off Field Turmoil Continues

October 16, 2014

One has to wonder if Jameis Winston will finish the season on the field for Florida State. Even more news came out of Tallahassee last week regarding the Seminoles quarterback. Media outlets Fox Sports 1 and the New York Times came out with investigative pieces that sketched a picture of football winning out over proper investigative procedures in cases that involve Florida State football players including Winston’s alleged sexual assault case. It was also reported that Winston will face a disciplinary hearing at the university, supposedly at some point after Saturday’s game against Notre Dame. Winston could face four charges of student code misconduct according to ESPN. Two could involve the sexual assault case that did not lead to charges being filed by local police. Suspension or expulsion are possible outcomes. 

ESPN also reported that FSU’s compliance department is investigating why a large amount of memorabilia signed by Winston was authenticated by a single company. In other words, did Winston receive money for his signatures? 

Jameis Winston has problems & needs help

So the question has to be asked. How long will Winston see the field? His misconduct hearing is coming up next week and there is a nearby precedent set at the University of Georgia where the Bulldogs suspended star runningback Todd Gurley for receiving cash for signing autographs. FSU head coach Jimbo Fisher is taking heat for keeping the 2013 Heisman Trophy winner on the field. 

The school is already under investigation for possible Title IX violations into how it handled the initial Winston accusations. SI.com legal expert Michael McCann went so far as to suggest it might be in Winston’s best interests right now to withdraw from school. If he did, it would remove him from the FSU disciplinary process. The university hearing has a much lower standard of guilt than a trial jury and information obtained from the hearing would likely used against him if the criminal case gets looked at again. 

As I have spoken of in these pages, Winston has already been suspended a game for misogynistic comments. And who can forget the offseason shoplifting of crab legs where Winston stated that he just forgot to pay for them. How can anyone trust anything this guy does or says?  

College Football In The Deep South 

Demographic information tells us that the population of Alabama is 4.8 million people. Similarly, the population of nearby Mississippi is just under 3 million. Yet, most of the recent national champion college football teams have come from the state of Alabama. And it could easily come from the Mississippi this year. If the final four to qualify for this season’s playoff championship were selected today, Mississippi State and Mississippi would be two of the four contenders. This week’s AP Top 25 ranked  6-0 Mississippi St #1, 6-0 Mississippi at #3 and 5-1 Auburn #6. In addition, Alabama is #7 at 5-1. Furthermore, if these teams did not have to play each other every season, they might all go undefeated. 

Compare the recruiting base of Alabama and Mississippi with the almost 40 million people that live in the state of California. The University of Alabama was a national college football champion in 2009, 2011 and 2012. Auburn University won in 2010, which means that for a period of four years, teams from tiny Alabama were the best college football teams in the country. Mississippi State and/or Mississippi will likely make a run at the title this year. How is this possible? 

I believe it starts with the culture in the deep South. The culture of these two states prizes football achievement. I did some quick research and learned that at Mississippi State, 56 percent of the players come from in state, while Mississippi is 51 percent homegrown. This clearly shows that the percentage of young athletes playing football as their number one sport is much higher than in other areas including California.  Emphasis on football for youth is evident and part of the culture. 

And I would not rule out economics. There are higher rates of poverty in these two states than others, and football is seen as a ticket out of economic deprivation. This provides extra motivation for young athletes to take training seriously, dedicate their lives to the sport and play as if there is no tomorrow. 

These schools have also been amazing recruiters, as athletes from adjoining states clamor to be a part of a winning tradition. In 2013, 65 percent of Alabama’s roster and 66 percent of Auburn’s came from out of state. They have truly perfected recruiting with the draw of facilities, winning and success in the professional ranks. Alabama and Auburn have also been dominant in the first rounds of the last drafts. So is it something in the water? No, it is a culture that treasures football and athletes that choose it over all other sports.  

College Football Playoff Talk 

One thing I like about the new college football playoff system is that a single loss is no longer a death sentence to National Championship hopes. Only three times in the 16-year BCS history did the National Championship Game not feature at least one unbeaten, the last of which was seven seasons ago in 2008. 

It got more and more frustrating to me and other fans that in many years there would be a host of seemingly qualified one-loss teams from outside the SEC automatically taking a back seat to a one-loss SEC team when it came time for the computers to decide who would be playing for the national championship. With the advent of the four team College Football Playoffs for this season, this is finally no longer the case. 

Auburn vs Alabama, 2012

Case in point. Two weeks ago was somewhat of a day of reckoning within the top ranks of college football, with four of the top six ranked schools in the country going down. No. 2 Oregon, No. 3 Alabama, No. 4 Oklahoma, and No. 6 Texas A&M all bit the dust last week, creating much reshuffling among the Top 10 in the AP poll. In years past, such a loss for a Big 12 school like Oklahoma would be a season-killer. With Florida State still undefeated, as well as a bevy of SEC teams such as Auburn, Mississippi State, and Ole Miss, the Sooners would have virtually no chance at qualifying for the National Championship Game. This season however, Oklahoma and Oregon can still hold on to hope. So can Auburn who was upset last weekend. And there will be others as the calendar moves toward November.  

Panthers Rally For Tie 

Cam Newton was a dual-threat quarterback once again, rallying the Panthers to a tie in regulation. It looked like Newton’s heroics were going to be wasted by Cincinnati placekicker Mike Nugent couldn’t finish it off. Nugent missed a 36-yard field goal attempt on the final play of overtime Sunday, leaving the Bengals and Panthers in a 37-37 tie, the NFL’s first this season. 

The matchup of division leaders featured big plays, late rallies and two quarterbacks repeatedly leading their teams back from the brink. The kickers decided it. 

Nugent made a 42-yard field goal that put Cincinnati (3-1-1) up after the opening drive of overtime. Carolina (3-2-1) tied it on Graham Gano’s 36-yarder with 2:19 left. 

The game marked Newton’s return as a running threat. He had been mostly limited to throwing the ball because of offseason ankle surgery and cracked ribs from the preseason. The Panthers turned him loose on Sunday, and he ran a team-high 17 times for 107 yards, including an 11-yard touchdown in the second half. 

He also was 29 of 46 for 284 yards and two touchdowns, including a 13-yarder that put Carolina up 31-24 with 4:50 left. Adam “Pacman” Jones ran the kickoff back 97 yards to set up a tying touchdown, and the kickers traded field goals. Gano’s 44-yarder sent it to overtime.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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