Close your eyes, and it’s 1999 again. Florida State is destroying every team with relative ease, the offense and defense are filled with All-Americans, a national championship game berth is on the horizon and the Seminoles have a Heisman trophy candidate — wait for it — who is in trouble with the law.
As the days pass, more information and depth is being released about the Jameis Winston investigation. Who knows if he did anything or not, but Florida State players no longer have the benefit of the doubt due to their history.
For whatever reason, Florida State athletes always find themselves in trouble with the authorities. You could put together an All-Star team with all of the Seminole players that have been arrested over the past 20 years. Winston has not been arrested, but it would not shock some if he was.
This season has been eerily similar to the 1999 campaign for Florida State. The Noles were cruising right along, led by the best receiver and front-runner for the Heisman trophy, Peter Warrick. Warrick had established himself as the most explosive player in college football, carving up every secondary that opposed him.
Everything was going according to plan for Bobby Bowden‘s team, compiling a 5-0 record to match their No. 1 ranking. Then, not surprisingly, the Florida State football star found himself in hot water. Warrick was suspended two games after being involved in a scheme to underpay for expensive clothes in a department store. He was eventually charged with petty theft in connection with a department store scam. The two-game hiatus ended any hopes of a Heisman trophy for Warrick.
Now here we are in 2013, and Florida State is “back” (aren’t they “back” every year?). They have won every game by double-digits and have rarely had to face adversity. The straw that stirs the drink is their redshirt freshman quarterback Jameis Winston, who now has catapulted himself to the front of the Heisman race. It seems as if most Florida State fans believe that the investigation is not a big deal and that he did no wrong, but that is most likely them attempting to hide their fear.
Seminole fans should be nervous considering that their program does not have the best track record and that Greg Dent, a former Florida State wide receiver, was dismissed from the team a few months ago for the same charges that Winston possibly faces. Maybe the Winston situation is nothing, but usually where there’s smoke, there’s is fire.
But cheer up, Florida State fans, because 1999 turned out alright for your team.
The Seminoles won the national championship thanks to an undefeated season in 1999, but it was an emotional roller coaster. Warrick returned to action against Clemson at Death Valley and the students serenaded him with chants of “jailbird.” In addition to the vocals, fans also brought Dillard’s shopping bags to present to Warrick. Too bad it didn’t work.
Warrick responded with 11 catches for 121 yards and the Seminoles kept their undefeated season alive with a 17-14 win in the inaugural Bowden Bowl.
Winston has assembled a brilliant season, especially for a first-year signal caller, throwing for 2938 yards with 28 TD and seven INT. He has rarely had to participate in the second half of games due to his team’s advantage on the scoreboard.
Every year, Florida State is overrated in the preseason, and they put together a terrific season in the the one year that they are underrated. Florida State is a great team with a great quarterback, and anything short of a national championship game appearance would be a disappointment for their fans at this point in the season.
But could it all come crashing down? Could everything that Florida State has worked for be thrown away with the findings of the Winston investigation? It is hard imagining a third-string quarterback defeating anyone in a national championship game. It should be an interesting last few weeks of the season.
Travis Patterson, Writer for ACC Rantsports.com. Football Writers Association of America. Follow on Twitter @tpat20. https://twitter.com/tpat20