By JDCam September 26th 2014
Jameis Winston and Charlie Strong. What is the connection? Is it familial? Do they have some obscure link from Strong’s playing days at the University of Central Arkansas? No. Winston and Strong are at opposite ends of a growing tension in college football. Both have been grabbing headlines recently, Winston for his spiraling fast and loose conduct, Strong more subtly but no less significantly.
Winston’s latest Manzielism (coining that phrase now) could not have come at a worse time. There most perfectly succinct account of the incident came from the FSU student body. Jeffrey Osborne, whoever you are tweeted out ‘Jameis Winston just casually screamed out in front of the HCB “f—k her right in the p—sy” #epic’. Actually Jeffrey, not epic, not funny, not even entertaining, just moronic. The only thing more moronic than Winston’s latest act of stupidity was FSUs bumbling handling of the situation, an embarrassing echo of Roger Goddell’s sham handling of Ray Rice, Greg Hardy, Adrian Peterson and company. FSU initially banned him for a half of no1 FSUs game against then no22 Clemson before upping the suspension to a full game after yet another public outcry at the timidity of the institution’s punishment of their star player. FSU even managed to let Winston dress for the game, before figuring out that was probably sending a message contrasting with their suspension.
Before continuing, it’s important to take in some Winston context. Since the summer of 2013 Winston’s remarkable dual sport accomplishments at FSU have been marred by consistent off the field issues. In July of 2013 a Burger King employee called police to complain that Winston was taking unpaid for soda in ketchup cups (an oz. at a time?!). In November of 2013, much more seriously Winston was charged with sexual assault dating back to an incident that occurred in December 2012. On December 5th however, police dropped the case citing lack of evidence in explaining that charges could not be brought as a conviction would be unlikely. According to a later article that appeared in the New York Times, the Tallahassee police did not take a DNA sample from him, interview him or attempt to obtain apparent video footage of the incident obtained by a teammate. Finally in April of 2014 Winston was issued a civil citation after walking out of a local grocery store without paying for approximately $30 worth of seafood.
How did FSU handle all of these situations with regard to their player? Other than the one game ban against Clemson Winston was handed a 3 game baseball suspension for the crab-leg incident, none for the sexual assault accusations although FSU is now investigating the incident to ascertain if Winston broke the school’s code of conduct for its students. Great job FSU, it only took 10 months for you to take the situation seriously. Undoubtedly if Winston can get to the end of the season issue free, Jimbo Fisher and athletic director Stan Wilcox will laud the star for his maturity and personal growth. The message in Tallahassee is clear however, winning is more important than character. In a sporting landscape where superstars rule the roost, Famous Jameis sits on the highest perch in college football.
870 miles away in Austin, TX, Charlie Strong is taking an entirely different approach than the higher ups at FSU. Strong recently kicked his ninth player off a floundering Longhorn program for a violation of team rules
I understand it is unfair to compare Winston and Strong. The differences are many; one is a coach, one a player, one an adult, one a young man. The comparison is merely to emphasize the increasingly inverted moral compass in college football in which players hold an ever higher stack of chips at the table.
Incredibly, Strong is being criticized for his firm stance and adherence to team rules. What are we saying here? In the post Mack Brown era, his first year seems the perfect opportunity for Strong to make a statement, to set a tone for a restructuring Texas program trying to find a new identity. In a time where headlines have been dominated by Winston, Ray Rice, Greg Hardy and Adrian Peterson for the most despicable reasons, I find myself an unflinching supporter of Strong. His no nonsense approach is sadly a refreshing change of pace to the tiresome and depressing news cycle of negativity surrounding both college and professional athletes. Maybe it is my lack of experience as a player but Strong is a man I would be inclined to follow and to put everything on the line for, for he lives out a key message. Though football is important, how we conduct ourselves and our standards of behavior, morality and character are more important.
Who knows how Winston and Strong’s respective seasons will play out? One sad reality remains. Winston will transfer his considerable talent into a likely 1st round choice in next June’s NFL draft despite lesson learned after lesson learned, off field issue after off-field issue. Contrastingly Strong will be the figure likely to draw more criticism from Texas boosters and local media more desperate for success than building back this sleeping giant in a respectable and sustainable fashion. It’s time to get behind standard bearers like Strong; Winston’s own personal ground hog day is becoming all too tiresome