If Florida State wanted to get quarterback Jameis Winston's attention, the school has done so. The university announced on Wednesday that Winston will be suspended for the first half of Saturday's home game against No. 22 Clemson. A Deadspin report from Tuesday cited multiple sources on Twitter who saw Winston stand on a table in public and shout a phrase including profane and sexual content.
Florida State interim president Dr. Garnett S. Stokes and athletic director Stan Wilcox said the suspension was due to Winston's "offensive and vulgar" remarks.
"As the university’s most visible ambassadors, student-athletes at Florida State are expected to uphold at all times high standards of integrity and behavior that reflect well upon themselves, their families, coaches, teammates, the Department of Athletics and Florida State University," Stokes and Wilcox said in a statement. "Student-athletes are expected to act in a way that reflects dignity and respect for others. As a result of his comments yesterday, which were offensive and vulgar, Jameis Winston will undergo internal discipline and will be withheld from competition for the first half of the Clemson game. The University and athletics department will have no further comment on the matter."
Winston is no stranger to off-field headlines. Last season's Heisman Trophy winner was previously investigated in the alleged sexual assault of a female Florida State student in December 2012, but the state attorney's office announced last December that he would not face any charges. Winston and a few Seminoles players were questioned by police following a BB gun battle in 2012. He was also implicated in an alleged incident at a Burger King, in which an employee reported he and three other individuals were shoplifting soda in ketchup cups.
Most recently, Winston was cited for stealing crab legs from a Publix supermarket in Tallahassee, Fla., in April. Winston called the incident a "terrible mistake" and was suspended from the baseball team. He was also ordered to pay a small fine and perform community service.
Until now, however, Winston has not missed a single minute of football playing time due to an off-field incident. Florida State's decision to suspend him makes one wonder if head coach Jimbo Fisher had simply grown tired of his star's antics.
It's not about this thing or that thing. It's about the cumulative effect of it all. From stealing crab legs to shouting obscenities, everything Winston does is subject to a headline. Many continue to label him as just another college kid. Guess what? He's not. Winston is the most recognizable college football player in the country. He represents a university and a brand. When Winston slips up in the public eye -- no matter how juvenile the allegation -- he is subject to consequences.
Then there’s the whole NFL impact. If Winston were to declare for the draft next May, wouldn’t it seem disingenuous for him to embrace the dumb college kid narrative a few months before professing his maturity during the combine?
Winston addressed his suspension in a press conference on Wednesday and apologized. "That was a selfish act," he said, "and that's not how you do things around here." Still, apologies ring hollow when they take place more than once.
Sean Maguire, a redshirt sophomore from Sparta, N.J., is expected to start under center for Florida State on Saturday. He has attempted just 26 passes in his college career, throwing for 144 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. He suddenly takes on a huge role in a game brimming with ACC importance.
But the larger point here goes beyond the gridiron. Finally, the message from Florida State seems clear: Shape up, Jameis, for good.