Jameis Winston will hear the decision before the Heisman vote on December 9th about charges being filed. While leaving the official announcement until Thursday, indications are that he will not be charged. Winston, considered to be the hands-down favorite to win the Heisman, has been under intense scrutiny over the last several weeks as investigators worked to decide whether or not to charge him with Sexual Assault. Despite repeated declarations on the part of prosecutors that football considerations would not impact the pace or outcome of that decision, the timing makes it difficult for many to believe that they did not. As the alleged assault took place nearly a year ago, the timing of the current investigation has been questioned. The reputation of many members of local law enforcement might have hung in the balance had their decision waited much longer.
Supporters of the FSU quarterback have been making repeated appeals to those conducting the investigation to have resolution about charges being pressed prior to this coming weekend. Jameis Winston has continued to play in the absence of charges being pressed, but the longer the cloud of doubt about his status remains, the less likely he is to be selected to receive the honor despite overwhelming agreement that he has earned it. While most Heisman voters have stated that they agree in principal with the premise that he is innocent until proven guilty, many have gone on the record as being unwilling to vote for him until the issue of charges is settled one way or the other.
It is not only the Heisman that hangs in the balance, however. FSU is a lock to go to the National Championship game if they win their final game this weekend against Duke. If he were to be charged, he would be required to sit out any further games pending the resolution of those charges. The decision on the part of FSU coaches and athletic directors to follow the letter of the law and allow him to play until charges are officially filed has been a controversial one. Beyond questions about having charges coming before the Heisman vote, the news that Jameis Winston will hear the decision tomorrow will either vindicate the FSU athletic staff, or bury them.
The ACC did select Winston as their Player of the Year, despite the controversy surrounding him, offering a measure of recognition for his accomplishments this season. The Heisman, however, is the type of accolade that remains with a player for life. The fact that the alleged assault took place nearly a year ago, and was only just picked up again in time to cast a shadow on his hopes for the Heisman, has conspiracy theorists on both sides of the debate buzzing. Some posit that the police were trying to cover the incident up, and were unable to do so because of the increased media coverage as FSU exceeded everyone’s expectations this season. Others have suggested the opposite, that this has only re-surfaced as an attempt on somebody’s part to deliberately prevent him from getting the award.
Theories abound, and with the amount of pundits determined to add their two cents to the discussion it seems certain that the conversation about this issue is a long way from over. The one thing that is certain as of tonight, Jameis Winston will hear the decision about charges tomorrow around 2 PM EST, before the final game and before the Heisman vote.
by Jim Malone