Only the cherubic mojo of Jameis Winston could align the heavens, earth, Bobby Bowden and Jimbo Fisher on the first Saturday after Florida State announced its official return to the elite ranks of college football.
FSU is back and so is Bowden, who is returning to Doak Campbell Stadium this weekend for the first time since he retired in 2010. Bowden is being honored for all his wins (377) now that the record books no longer acknowledge Joe Paterno as the leader in career coaching victories.
Bowden has said plenty of times that there isn’t a rift between himself, the university and Fisher, but he has stayed away all the same. However, even Bowden wants a first-hand glimpse of Famous Jameis, who in reducing Clemson’s Memorial Stadium to rubble in a prime-time game of top-five teams last week not only shot to the top of the Heisman Trophy list but also positioned himself as potentially the top pick of the 2015 NFL Draft.
Winston still has one more season of college ball before he can turn pro, but it’s already abundantly clear that the Dolphins should start tanking games in order to draft him. Remember when the Colts tanked for Andrew Luck? That worked out, and now the Colts have successfully transitioned from one franchise quarterback to another.
It would probably cost Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland his job, but he owes it to South Florida at this point to go all in for Winston. I’m only kidding, of course, but I bet you wish I wasn’t.
In the biggest game of his young career, Winston completed 22 of 34 passes for 444 yards and showed the type of leadership the Seminoles always have needed but lacked to make that difficult step from great to elite. Florida State is without quarterback leadership no more and Winston is now, finally, helping the program realize its full potential with the backdrop of excellent recruiting by Fisher.
How giddy is Tallahassee right now about this kid from Hueytown, Ala.? If Winston can make Bowden swallow his pride and join the bandwagon, then great things truly are afoot in the Panhandle.
Of course, the timing of Bowden’s return is obvious. In bringing Winston and Bowden together for the first time, the Seminoles’ athletic department is channeling all the school pride, tradition and hype it can muster in order to stave off its annual letdown game. Next week, FSU plays Miami, but this Saturday the Noles are playing N.C. State.
Last season’s disappointing collapse to the Wolfpack should be motivation enough, but having Bowden throw Chief Osceola’s spear into the turf will send the stadium into orbit before kickoff.
In an interview with the Orlando Sentinel this week, Bowden said he was most impressed with Winston’s demeanor and “humility.”
“He’s not doing like [Johnny] Manziel,” Bowden said. “And Manziel, I like him, I love to watch him play. [Winston] gives all the credit to the rest of his team and plus he has statistics to go behind him.”
In the past two weeks, Winston has thrown eight touchdown passes and one interception against ranked opponents. Against Clemson, he averaged 20.2 yards per pass, which was more than double the average pass for Tigers quarterback Tajh Boyd, a senior who also was a Heisman Trophy candidate until last week.
Manziel might still be the most exciting player in college football, but it would appear the NCAA has started endorsing Winston for the Heisman. On its official website, the governing body of collegiate athletics pointed out this week that Winston, through six games, “is responsible for 20 more touchdowns than turnovers. That’s equal to Robert Griffin III and Johnny Manziel through the same number of games of their Heisman Trophy seasons.”
It’s clear now.
The godsend that is Famous Jameis is the answer to all of college football’s problems.