What now for Jameis Winston?


A wrench was thrown into the works of the Heisman race last night when it was reported that Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston is under investigation for sexual battery.

Setting aside the seriousness (or lack of seriousness) of the matter for a moment, what a lot of people now want to know is: How does this affect his status in the Heisman race?

There are a few ways this could go.

1. If the matter is quickly resolved before Heisman ballots are due and the perception is that there was nothing to the case, then there will be no negative impact on Winston’s Heisman candidacy. Heisman voters are very fair and will look very closely at all the facts in the case. You might even see a ‘rallying effect’ in the sense that no one likes to see a kid’s name dragged unnecessarily through the mud.

2. If the matter lingers until after the Heisman vote, but the perception is that the case is clearly frivolous and that there’s no ‘there’ there, then it will have minimal impact on his candidacy, though it could cause a few voters to keep their eyes open for alternative candidates.

3. If the matter lingers until after the Heisman vote and the perception is that the case has some validity to it — going a little beyond a sort of ‘he said, she said’ situation — then it’s going to hurt his candidacy a lot. He’ll likely become a regional candidate and lose a ton of his national support.

4. If more information comes out that validates the investigation and paints Winston in a bad light, then he’ll be finished as a Heisman candidate and the race for the trophy will be the least of his worries.

For now, though, Winston remains the front runner to win the 2013 Heisman.

A couple more observations —

— Given that the Heisman race is basically a political election, I wonder if the process is beginning to take on the characteristics of one, complete with dirty tricks. Someone knew about the Winston investigation for a long time and then chose to reveal it just as he became the Heisman front runner. That’s pretty scummy, in my book. You could argue that the same thing happened with Cam Newton back in 2010, when the allegations about him taking money came out just before the Alabama game.

— One thing working against Winston is that, being a freshman, he hasn’t had much time to build his image with the media. Beyond his squinting, a lot of people outside the South don’t know much about him and couldn’t identify him if they saw him. This has always been a problem with freshmen competing for the Heisman — compared to upperclassmen, they’re at disadvantage when it comes to name recognition and building their brand. Johnny Manziel was able to overcome that last year thanks to a catchy nickname and a unique style of play that made him instantly recognizable, especially after his game against Alabama. The danger for Winston is that he becomes known as much for being under investigation for sexual battery as he is for his play on the field.

— If this matter indeed ends up hurting Winston, I believe that Manziel would suffer some collateral damage as well, as the character issue would then be front and center in the Heisman race. Those voters who remember Manziel’s summertime controversies would likely avoid him as well. The beneficiaries in this scenario would be the squeaky-clean AJ McCarron, or Marcus Mariota.

— Here’s a piece from the USA Today that asks a few Heisman voters about the matter. There is clearly some concern.

TMZ is now alleging that the Tallahassee cops covered this up.

Powered by

About Heismanpundit

Chris Huston, A.K.A. ‘The Heisman Pundit‘, is a Heisman voter and the creator and publisher of Heismanpundit.com, a site dedicated to analysis of the Heisman Trophy and college football. Dubbed “the foremost authority on the Heisman” by Sports Illustrated, HP is regularly quoted or cited during football season in newspapers across the country. He is also a regular contributor on sports talk radio and television.

Follow HP

Find us on Twitter, Facebook and Youtube!

7 Responses to What now for Jameis Winston?

  1. Mason November 14, 2013 at 11:59 am #

    Doesn’t this help Petty as much as Manziel and Mariota?

  2. Heismanpundit November 14, 2013 at 12:02 pm #

    It could, but people are still getting to know him, too. He’s as much of a mystery at this point as Winston, if not more.

  3. DavidC November 14, 2013 at 2:07 pm #

    In light of the seriousness of the allegations against Winston, I think its as fair time as any to examine what exactly were the “offseason issues” of Johnny Manziel.

    The comparison of a rape allegation to sleeping in would certainly crystalize the absurdity and pettiness of the vilification of Manziel during the offseason. Don’t you agree?

  4. Heismanpundit November 14, 2013 at 4:59 pm #

    It’s not a comparison of the allegations, it’s a comparison of the perceptions surrounding the two players.

  5. DavidC November 14, 2013 at 7:47 pm #

    Chris, please. You’re a reasonable educated person. Surely you grasp the incongruency of Manziels offseason “issues” relative to the vitriol it was met with.

    Doesn’t a rape accusation add perspective and make you or anyone say “man, what was really so wrong with ANYTHING Manziel did of over the summer?” And when was he ever afforded a benefit of the doubt?

    Johnny was eviscerated by media personalities small and large and didn’t deserve 1/10th of the venom spewed at him.

    Surely you can simply say you agree with this sentiment. No need to sidestep answering this again. You already make it your business to compare players; this is critically valuable context that you should not be pretending isn’t there.

    Bottom line, Johnny Manziel never really had any character issues. We all, media and general public, just had an unhealthy obsession with ever breath the kid took. WE were the Johnny Manziel issue, a celluloid manifestation of our fixation. That’s not a Johnny Manziel character issue.

    A rape allegation IS a character issue. Which right now has as much proof as anything Johnny was ever accused of.

    • Heismanpundit November 15, 2013 at 3:35 pm #

      David. I encourage you to go back to my Twitter timeline and you will see that I defended Manziel in all these matters that came up over the summer.

      However, I think you are mistaking my description of these factors for me actually condoning them. I do not believe Manziel is of low character. I do not believe he is of high character. I have no opinion on his character. I only care about what he does on the football field.

      But there are other people out there who do think he has character issues, fairly or unfairly, and nothing I say or do is going to change their minds. There are people who think he took money in that autograph deal. There are people who read the ESPN article and think he’s a punk. If I am going to analyze the Heisman race, I have to take into account that reality. If I pretend that those people don’t exist, then I’m not doing a very good job of predicting how that affects how they vote, am I?

      So, when I say that Winston’s issue could reverberate to the point where character comes front and center in the Heisman race more than usual, and that it could result in collateral damage to Manziel as a result of that voting block out there who thinks (rightfully or not) that he has issues (albeit less major), I’m just describing a condition in the current race.


  1. Heisman Weekend Preview | Heisman Pundit - November 15, 2013

    […] Winston (who also plays baseball) has been thrown quite a curve ball with the allegations of sexual battery that have just come out. Can he overcome the pressure and, once again, knock it out of the park, so […]