Quarterback Jameis Winston can almost see the Heisman Trophy on his mantel. Winston did all he was supposed to do last Saturday in keeping his spot atop the Heisman poll as he led now No. 1 Florida State University to a 37-7 victory over in-state rival Florida.
Maybe the Alabama faithful had counted on quarterback AJ McCarron to keep pace, but McCarron and the Crimson Tide lost a heartbreaker. So did Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel, the reigning Heisman winner. Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota and Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty fell out of the Heisman race two Saturdays ago, and that has led to the nonsense of having Northern Illinois quarterback Jordan Lynch's name thrown into the mix.
No one can be serious about handing a Heisman to a player from a conference like the Mid-American. Lynch’s numbers might look flashy, but they compare not one bit to what Winston has done in Atlanta Coast Conference.
Still, his winning the Heisman is no LeBron James slam dunk. For what should rightfully bother voters are the sexual assault allegations Winston faces. The allegations seem to be enough to force voters to look elsewhere.
Florida State Attorney Willie Meggs said on Monday that he won't let FSU's football schedule or Winston's Heisman possibilities determine when his investigation will be completed, reports the Associated Press.
The sexual assault allegations were reported to Tallahassee police nearly a year ago, but weren’t given to prosecutors until November 2013. The Tallahassee Police Department has defended its handling of the case even though the family of the victim has said that police detectives warned them about pressing charges, writes AP.
The problem Heisman voters find in front of them now is how to weigh those criminal allegations.
As much as these men and women might want to anoint Winston as the one, they dare not risk having the Heisman stripped from him as happened to Reggie Bush, the USC star who lost his for off-field misconduct.
What Bush did pales in comparison to what Winston is accused of, and it took years for the Bush fiasco to sort itself out. The Heisman voters don’t have years; they have until Dec. 14.
Their decision is easy if they judge Winston just on what he did on the football field for the Seminoles. He’s avoided the horrid or mediocre performances that hurt “Johnny Football,” McCarron, Mariota and Petty. Winston has been steady, often spectacular. Yet people continue to deconstruct his season, looking for any reason to not award the Heisman to an athlete whose character is under scrutiny.
The Heisman voters, however, can’t wait for that proving to occur. They must step back and judge what they do know, which is this: No player in big-time college football has had a better season than Jameis Winston.
The man’s name is spelled: W-I-N-S-T-O-N.
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(Photo: Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)