Today, Jimbo Fisher announced that Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Jameis Winston will be suspended for the first half of Saturday's game against Clemson. Winston reportedly stood on a table in the FSU student union on Tuesday and shouted a vulgar phrase that came from an internet meme. I'm not going to post the phrase here on STS, but if you haven't heard it, I will say it is sexual in nature. Not only was the phrase offensive, but considering Jameis Winston's sexual assault case (which he was acquitted of all charges), it isn't a smart thing to say. While Winston may have been found not guilty, there are a whole lot of people who believe he actually did it, and got off because of who he is. When you're being seen as that guy, you have to have the sense to know you can't make sexual or chauvinistic jokes. But this isn't the only stupid thing he's done.
This offseason, he was caught shoplifting crab legs. This is beyond a poor college kid trying to get some food. A hungry kid is going to take bread, peanut butter, or something else that will last. And, while it may be against NCAA rules, people would be willing to buy Jameis Winston food. Think about how many freshman (or students of any age) would swipe him into the dining hall just for the opportunity to eat with the star quarterback on the team. I'm sure that someone on Florida State's campus could drive him to McDonald's and get him some burgers. His decision making shows one of 2 things: either he is stupid or he thinks the rules don't apply to him. Either way, if you are Jimbo Fisher, you have to figure something out quickly. Suspending him vs Clemson is a step in the right direction, but is it too little too late?
To be seen as a legitimate football program, you have to not only win, but show that no player is above the team. Look at Alabama. With all the flack we give Nick Saban, he has never had a player run all over him. In 2010, Dabo Swinney was letting Kyle Parker get away with publicly defying him, and Clemson had a losing record. In 2012, Dabo suspended Sammy Watkins for 2 games, including 1 against Auburn, for being arrested with marijuana. Swinney claimed that the punishment was going to be worse, but Sammy earned the right to only miss 2 games. Dabo has also kicked Chad Kelly and Kyring Priester off the team for attitude problems, and has suspended multiple key players for games big and small. Coach Swinney is committed to not letting anyone get bigger than the program.
Here is where the fork in the road for FSU lies. Florida State is one of the top programs in America. However, in Bobby Bowden's last years they went into a slide. Jimbo Fisher has done a great job bringing them back into national relevancy. But, his lack of discipline with Jameis Winston can be construed that FSU isn't back as a top program, but that they have gotten a good player and will slide once he's gone unless they luck upon another star like him. Before today, it looked like Jameis Winston ran things at FSU, and that the Noles were just grateful to have him. I think Jimbo Fisher is starting to realize he has to do something, and is reacting appropriately, given Jameis's past. Jameis Winston represents Florida State football wherever he goes, and if he can't get that, then he doesn't deserve that title. Things like this are good reminders of how fortunate we are to have coach who doesn't play games and players that, while they may have made mistakes, know how to represent Clemson well.