Florida State missed an opportunity to send a strong message to Jameis Winston after his latest transgression, and I'm worried for the reigning Heisman Trophy winner.
It was a week ago that Winston shouted an obscene phrase while in the FSU student union, which led the school to suspend him from Saturday's game against Clemson. Seminoles head coach Jimbo Fisher reinstated Winston on Monday and named him the starter for this week's game against North Carolina State.
Now, this is not my attempt to pile on Winston nor excuse or condone what he has done. My question is, where are the adults in this situation? Winston's judgment clearly has to be better, but so does that of the adults at the university.
It was a mistake on their part to allow Winston to be on the sideline as he served his suspension during Saturday's game. If the yelling of the obscenity had been Winston's first off-the-field issue, then maybe the whole issue would have blown over quickly, but Winston's pattern of troubling off-field behavior is well-documented. It's a serious issue, and the latest incident called for serious punishment, but FSU didn't send that message when it had a chance.
Florida State should have told him that as part of his suspension, he was not allowed to be at the stadium on Saturday. Instead, he took the field in full uniform during pregame warmups -- due to a miscommunication between the coaching staff and equipment staff, according to head coach Jimbo Fisher. The cameras were on Winston then and all game long as he coached up teammates on the sideline.
I don't think that was a good thing for FSU or Winston. The only message that sent to Winston is, "No matter what I do, I'm still the center of attention." It feels like he thinks that no matter what he does, there won't be major consequences.
When Winston was suspended, did anyone sit him down and explain all that the suspension would entail? Obviously, he didn't seem to understand the situation when he took the field in full uniform before the game.
I'm not suggesting FSU should have abandoned him, but on Saturday, FSU should have pulled him aside and told him, "We want you to be part of our program and still believe you'll go on to do great things, but this isn't about you tonight."
My fear for Winston is that there seems to be a disconnect in his thinking. It seems pretty clear that he's not learning from his mistakes.
His talent is unquestioned. His teammates love him and treat him as a leader. Sure, Winston is young at just 20 years old, but I'm not sure we're helping him with his maturation process into adulthood right now.
I don't want Winston to figure it out too late, and I don't want to see him involved in more troubling issues because eventually he'll run out of chances and won't get another opportunity to prove he's changed.
While I'm skeptical that Winston really learned his lesson this time, I'm hopeful that he did.
Every great coach I've ever talked to has told me quarterbacking is not a position, it's a lifestyle. It's 24/7, 365. No matter what you do as a quarterback, people are watching.
Winston should have long ago understood the position he's in. Let's hope that he, and the adults around him, make sure he soon figures out the gravity of his situation.