Jameis Winston’s matter hovers over Florida State’s BCS aspirations


If quarterback Jameis Winston is charged in a sexual-assault case, FSU might have difficulty keeping the No. 2 spot in the BCS standings.

FSU's Jameis Winston smiles amongst a corwd of Seminoles supporters in Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee, Fla.
FSU's Jameis Winston smiles amongst a corwd of Seminoles supporters in Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee, Fla.
Stephen M. Dowell / MCT

Miami Herald Writer

In 1993, Jimbo Fisher was the quarterbacks coach for the Auburn Tigers — the only undefeated team in the country that year. But Auburn was on probation and wasn’t eligible to play in a bowl game that season. If it had been, there was a very good chance it would have won a national championship.

Instead Bobby Bowden and Florida State won its first national championship.

Ironically, 20 years later Fisher is the coach of Florida State and on Saturday that ’93 FSU team — in town to be honored for the 20th anniversary of their championship — was on hand to see his current squad manhandle Syracuse.

Fisher’s Seminoles should be on their way to a BCS title game this year. They are currently ranked second — behind the Alabama Crimson Tide — in the BCS standings and will be heavily favored in every regular-season game from here on out.

But it could all be for nought.

Twenty years after it happened to him the first time, Fisher could be the coach of an undefeated team that’s on the outside of a championship game looking in.

FSU’s star quarterback, Jameis Winston, has been linked to sexual-assault allegations stemming from a December 2012 incident and if he is charged, everything grinds to a halt.

Under FSU’s conduct policy, if Winston is charged with a felony he will be suspended indefinitely while his case plays out in court. With backup Jacob Coker — who pushed Winston for the starting job during the spring and summer — out for the year following surgery on his meniscus, the Seminoles would be forced to turn to redshirt freshman Sean Maguire.

Voters likely wouldn’t view Florida State through the same lens at that point.

Voting implications

With Winston, the Seminoles are one of the top two teams in the country. But without him, it’s possible voters could drop the Seminoles in the rankings — and by extension, the BCS standings — and punch another school’s ticket to Pasadena, Calif., for the BCS National Championship Game.

The case to which Winston has been linked is 11 months old but was turned over to the state attorney’s office only last Tuesday. This week, investigators will attempt to meet with the victim — who has now moved out of state — and the investigation could continue for weeks after that.

“There’s nothing like being fresh on a case and walking in and saying, ‘What happened last night,’ ” state attorney Willie Meggs told The Associated Press on Saturday.

“Now they’ve been talking to lawyers, they’ve been talking to each other and getting their stories together. ... People have had 11 months to decide what they’re going to say.”

Attorney responds

On Sunday, Winston’s attorney, Tim Jansen, fired back at Meggs via a statement released to ESPN.

“Not only did Mr. Meggs engage in a press interview addressing a supposedly confidential law-enforcement investigation, but his comments included inferences that witnesses whom have been available to law enforcement for nearly a year may have been affected by attorneys and collusion,” Jansen said.

“Such extrajudicial public statements at this early point in his investigation raise concerns in the minds of Mr. Winston and the public that the Mr. Meggs may not be conducting the objective, fair and unbiased investigation which is the right of every person involved in the criminal-justice system.”

Jansen also has turned over two witness affidavits that he says will “completely exonerate my client.”

But while the situation is devolving into public bickering between attorneys, FSU’s season hangs in the balance.

Judging by the 59-3 beating it gave Syracuse on Saturday, the Seminoles haven’t lost their focus. And they likely would still be favored in every game until their bowl game even if they lost Winston.

It just might not matter.

The most common question asked of observers this past weekend while Florida State celebrated the 20th anniversary of its ’93 championship team was how much this year reminded them of 1993.

For Fisher, that question might be starting to hit a little too close to home.

Read more FSU stories from the Miami Herald

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