Winston Legal Issues Leave Heisman Voters In No-Win Situation


Florida State QB Jameis Winston (5) signs autographs for fans after the game against the Idaho Vandals at Doak Campbell Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Melina Vastola-USA TODAY Sports

Any voters hoping to gain clarity on the legal situation surrounding star Florida State QB Jameis Winston found themselves realizing Tuesday night that none is coming.

The Florida state attorney office reportedly will take at least two more weeks to decide whether to charge Winston with sexual assault.

Such a timeframe leaves voters – for both the final regular-season polls and the Heisman Trophy – without a full picture regarding Winston.

They will instead have to make a conscious decision on an impossible matter.

Voters must ignore the potential ramifications of Winston having committed a violent felony or essentially declare him guilty of a crime for which he has yet to face charges.

Last weekend’s on-field results only further complicate the situation.

Heading into Saturday, Texas A&M QB Johnny Manziel, Baylor QB Bryce Petty and Oregon QB Marcus Mariota all had varying degrees of ability to bring home college football’s most coveted individual award.

All three lost badly.

Manziel, who had the best chance to steal the Heisman in the closing weeks, turned in his worst performance of his career – likely ending his chances.

Petty and Mariota, meanwhile, largely depended on team results to back up their amazing individual accomplishments. Voters seem far more likely to find flaws with the triggermen, unfairly labeling them products of highly successful offensive schemes.

With those three largely out of the mix now, the gulf between Winston and the field seems to have expanded.

In terms of “most outstanding” player in the nation, Winston seems the obvious choice.

The redshirt freshman has thrown for 3,163 yards and 32 TDs despite leaving numerous games at halftime because of Florida State’s dominance. Winston has the Seminoles on the verge of their first BCS National Championship Game appearance since the 2000 season as well.

Voters with whom I have spoken indicated that Winston getting charged with a felony would have resulted in his getting left off Heisman ballots. Short of those charges, though, the same voters planned to feature the Florida State redshirt freshman at the top.

To that end, the consensus seems to be that Tuesday night’s announcement bolstered Winston’s chances to win the Heisman Trophy.

Yes, some tasked with choosing the nation’s most outstanding player will penalize Winston just in case he did, in fact, commit the crime.

There is also a large contingency out there that refuses to play judge and jury regarding a very murky legal situation.

Tuesday’s announcement likely didn’t secure the Heisman for Winston. It did, however, put voters on notice that they must decide how to handle him when selecting the man who will serve as the face of college football for the next year.