The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

Opinion

December 5, 2013

Jameis Winston investigation clouds Heisman

The 12-game regular season once again won’t provide clear answers as to the best teams in college football — nor will it settle who should win the Heisman Trophy.

On the field, No. 1 Florida State’s quarterback Jameis Winston is outstanding. It’s an off-the-field criminal investigation that has Heisman voters wondering what to do with their ballots to pick the season’s best player.

The person with the potential to be the biggest game-changer is Willie Meggs, the state attorney in Florida, who will determine whether to pursue criminal charges after investigating a sexual assault complaint involving Winston.

Should an indictment be handed up, Winston, in all likelihood, would be suspended from the team. Florida State policy states that student-athletes charged with a felony “will not be permitted to represent FSU Athletics in game competition until such time as the charge is resolved and all court, university and athletics department conditions for reinstatement have been met.”

Answers to the questions of when or if charges are forthcoming rest with Meggs — as they should.

On the sporting side of the discussion, things remain dicey. Heisman voters have until Dec. 9 to submit their ballots. Without some decision from Meggs or a grand jury, the question is whether suspicion surrounding Winston’s actions will be a factor in Heisman voting.

Furthermore, if Winston is suspended, should Florida State play for a national championship when the player who led the team to an undefeated regular season and probable Atlantic Coast Conference championship on the sidelines?

In fairness to Winston, even if he is charged, he still should be considered innocent until proven guilty. At the same time, seeing a person charged or even under suspicion of having committed a serious crime accept an honor like the Heisman Trophy on national television Dec. 14 is disconcerting.

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