It looks now like controversial Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston is the man favored to take home this season's Heisman trophy. His stats, coupled with status of his undefeated Seminoles almost make his awarding a given with today's voter. And it's a status (#1) unlikely to change unless Duke Blue Devils (10-2) work some sorcery and pull off an upset Saturday.
When Winston dodged the indictment bullet on Thursday with Florida's State Attorney General Willie Meggs' announcement there was not sufficient evidence to bring sexual assault or other criminal charges against the red-shirt freshman, you could feel a collective sigh of relief flow from the community of collegiate sport prognosticators.
By & large, those who comment on the college game seem to be coalescing around the belief that Jameis is now, after Thursday's presser, entitled to the trophy and anything less than his receipt of the hallowed hardware would be, almost criminal.
Not because there's a candidate with a clearly better on-field record, although, Alabama's A.J. McCarron would be a fine choice based on his competition & play. Three TD tosses, in a near-title game (Aub), on the road, against ranked arch-rival in a fluky loss, on a team going for its third consecutive national, shouldn't topple one from the favored-perch.
And not because I think Mr. Meggs was wrong in not charging the young man: "There's some memory lapses (in accuser's testimony)...There's some major issues ("No Charges" / M. Baker / TBT / 12-5)," Meggs explained. Willie worked with what he had (TPD late interviews), as the accuser's family concedes, and most feel he did the prudent thing.
They're wrong because Winston, it would appear from facts made public, exercised seriously bad judgment on night of his sexual encounter with the accuser and that's enough to keep him from the award ceremony, plain & simple. Intergrity, not perfection, mind you, should matter in voter-think.
The Heisman is not an entitlement like Social Security benefits, a champion's trophy or a batting title. You shouldn't win simply because you have the best personal numbers or lead a highly ranked team. That's a weak ballot.
It's suppose to be an honor, a bestowment forged in the heat of popularity and stellar performance, but a tribute, a standard, nonetheless. Mr. Heisman would agree.
I don't dislike this Tallahassee lad, born in Hueytown, Alabama. I know very little of the man. And I think there's real chance he did nothing seriously wrong that fateful night in question, at least, not serious in a criminal sense. Instead, it's an apparent lacking of ethical standards in the college game today that irks this writer (put 80 on Idaho and voters reward FSU).
Bestowing college football's most prestigious player award on a man who claims he had consensual sex with a non-girlfriend woman found to have "blood alcohol...estimated at 0.10 (0.08 FL-DMV limit / Baker)," is not a decision maker who need be shunned by the college community, but is not one to be put upon its highest athletic pedestal, either.
If last year's Heisman awarding (Manziel) should've taught voters anything, it's that the trophy still has, always will, an integrity element, whether they care to respect it or ignore it in defiance.
Meat & Potatoes
Photo Credit: J. Winston / wc.cca / 10-8-13 / D. July (Flickr) / Tallahassee, FL