One has to wonder who the haters are. Not the oddsmakers or media. FSU was a heavy favorite going into the BCS National Championship game, with many sources from Vegas, including CBS Sports, sticking by the 9.5 point betting line in favor of the Seminoles. Some computer simulations had FSU winning 49-35 or 49-28. Auburn shoved the Seminoles around the field for much of the game, and came within a whisker of beating FSU. They punished Winston in the first half, as he looked like a bewildered deer-in-the-headlights under the withering Auburn defense. If anyone had “haters” or was being disrespected, it was the constant media drumbeat about how Auburn would never stand up to the highest scoring team in the nation.
Winston was also the subject of a massive investigation into an alleged sexual assault case stemming from December 2012. Winston’s attorney said he had consensual relations with a 19-year old woman in an off-campus apartment after he’d been out whooping it up with friends, and DNA evidence supported this admission. While the investigation did NOT result in charges being brought against the Heisman Trophy winner, the woman’s attorney held a press conference and pointed to numerous mistakes and flaws in the investigation. According to ESPN, December 6 2013:
“The accuser initially reported the alleged rape to FSU police on the night in question. Because the incident took place off campus, FSU police immediately referred the case to Tallahassee police.
The woman’s attorney has been critical of the way Tallahassee police handled the case from the beginning. In a statement released two weeks ago, Carroll wrote that a TPD officer told her that Tallahassee is a “big football town, and the victim needs to think long and hard before proceeding against [Winston] because she will be raked over the coals and her life will be made miserable.”
The victim’s attorney maintains outside pressures due to his role on the football team pressured the victim to not pursue the case as vigorously as she should have, and even the state’s attorney severely criticized the Tallahassee Police Department for the way the investigation was handled.
In the end, he was exonerated. The prosecutor said he did not have enough evidence to file charges. But it’s clear Winston had made some dumb decisions that placed him in that situation in the first place. Yes, he is a freshman, and we have to take that into account. But before he can call critics “haters,” he needs to think about his own behavior in this matter. FSU players and Coach Jimbo Fisher also appeared to be rather self-defensive after the game and bristled at criticism that A) they hadn’t played as tough a schedule, and B) they hadn’t faced anywhere near the adversity and close, tight games that Auburn had. But it’s true. The Atlantic Coast Conference, where FSU plays, has a number of teams that wouldn’t even win 5 games in the PAC-12. FSU only trailed by double-digits once this season, in September vs Boston College. Their average margin of victory was over 42 points. Auburn was the first “real” test they faced all year, and they nearly flunked it.
So, it’s curious that Winston takes a crack at “haters,” when his poor judgement led to one controversial situation, and simple football facts show FSU was never really tested until they met Auburn. Many view him as a breath of fresh air in college football. And he is wonderfully talented and a great leader. But if he’s not careful he could soon wind up being Johnny Manziel Part 2. Everyone was in love with “Johnny Football” until his questionable off-season activities and decisions and some of his unsportsmanlike on-field behavior and gestures led to many thinking the Texas A&M quarterback has a million dollar body and a ten cent head.
Maybe he needs to huddle with former collegiate standouts like Tim Tebow or Andrew Luck to learn what it means to be a true leader, winner and class act.