The Atlantic Coast Conference's coordinator of officials supports the decision not to penalize or eject Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston on Saturday after Winston made contact with a referee who was delaying a quick snap to allow a substitution. The ACC official, Doug Rhoads, called Winston's contact "incidental and insignificant."
"The center judge's positioning, which was due to the experimental year of having an eighth official, combined with the late substitution and by rule the need to allow the defense to match up, led to contact between himself and the player," Rhoads said in a prepared statement to the Orlando Sentinel. "The official believed the contact was incidental and insignificant and did not rise to the level of unsportsmanlike conduct and automatic disqualification."
The center judge, Michael Webster, stood behind center Cameron Erving to allow Boston College a defensive substitution because FSU had made a substitution of its own. Winston nudged Webster out of the way in order to take the snap as quickly as possible.
The pre-snap incident drew varying opinions. Mike Pereira, the former NFL vice president of officiating and now of Fox Sports, said he thought Winston should have been penalized and ejected for making contact with an official. The New York Post even called for the NCAA to suspend Winston.
It's a classic example of an athlete's past history of controversy feeding strength to itself. Had a lesser-known quarterback -- for instance, Boston College's Tyler Murphy -- done the same thing, little if any attention would have been paid to it, even if he were penalized. While Winston's actions might have been technically against the rules, they clearly weren't malicious.