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Couch: These days, Florida St. QB Jameis Winston has a lot to say
NEWPORT BEACH, Calif.
Jameis Winston has gotten awfully comfortable in front of cameras and microphones. When I talked with him early in the season, he didn’t have much to say, other than that he was here for his team.
But on Friday, with a Heisman Trophy and an appearance on Letterman in the books, he spoke for the first time in the lead-up to Monday’s national championship game against Auburn. And now he’s talking:
Like, he doesn’t see any reason Florida State can’t blow out Auburn, the way it has blown out everyone else.
Like, he’d like to be the next Bo Jackson. And play in the NFL and in Major League Baseball.
Like, if Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher leaves to take the Texas job, “I’m going to say 'Coach, Can I go?' "
Go with Fisher to Texas?
“Yeah, I’m going to ask him. He’s my coach. He’s my head coach.”
He was just kidding. Probably.
Winston is still loose as ever, maybe more so. He walked into the room Friday and saw center Bryan Stork. Next thing you knew, Stork bear-hugged Winston around the waist, picked him up and started swinging him around. It was 6'-4" (at least), 225 pounds of Winston, laughing, with the g-force lifting his feet higher and higher off the ground, back and forth.
Winston is still a big kid, even after all the attention, good and bad. It’s what I liked about him when I first met him. And way back then, I said that we’d certainly knock the “kid” right out of him sooner or later.
There is still so much to be decided about Winston. Are we looking at an all-time great American athlete or another over-hyped scandal-guy? Maybe in today’s world, you can be both.
With the TMZing of society, it might just be that today’s superstars can handle the good and the bad. Look at Johnny Manziel. It’s a culture they’re growing up in.
It’s still hard to know how to take the rape allegation against Winston. His name was attached to it and dragged down for weeks, and even though charges were never even filed, that mark will be stuck to him forever. Plenty of people will always wonder if justice was really served.
Someone asked him Friday if he thought people’s names shouldn’t be released in connection to a major crime until they are at least charged with it.
“I’m not even talking about that, about being charged with serious crime because I wasn’t,” Winston said. “And I’m playing football. I’m worried about winning a national championship.”
I think he projects well into the NFL, on and off the field. But we’re going to have to wait at least another year for that. Under NFL rules, he can’t turn pro for another season. That didn’t work out for South Carolina’s Jadeveon Clowney, who basically took the year off, waiting.
To me, it’s unfair to tell a grown man that he can’t start his career when he wants. But that’s another issue for another time.
“It’s just the way things are,” Winston said.
He did make it clear, though, that he doesn’t plan to stick around at Florida State for the last three years of his eligibility. He seemed to mistakenly think he has to play two more years before going to the NFL, when he said he looks forward to spending those years trying to prove to NFL scouts and executives that he’s ready.
He plays on the Florida State baseball team, too. And though he said no one is going to be the next Bo Jackson, he has never thought there was anything he couldn’t do if he worked at it.
You almost can’t blame him if cockiness sets in.
But Winston probably made the biggest splash Friday with what he said about Texas. The Longhorns coaching vacancy is the biggest story in college football, even bigger than the title game at this point in the week.
Brown came off looking bad again. He has been crushed for not getting Manziel, a Texas kid, to be his quarterback. And now here comes the second Heisman winner in a row saying something like this:
“Texas was my favorite team. Through my whole recruiting process, I told my high school coach, 'Coach, we got to get Texas on the phone.' When I was young, I looked up to Vince Young and wanted to go to Texas.”
He said that not only did his coach try to call Brown but that he did, too.
“No,” Winston said, “I never talked to him.”
As for the title game, Winston didn’t quite go all the way to predicting a blowout. But close enough.
“Before we played Clemson, before we played Florida, before we played Miami, I said 'Guys, where in the rulebook does it say we can’t blow out everybody that we play?' We took that mentality and ran with it. ...
“This is going to be a real tough game for us because Auburn holds the ball all the time with their dynamic running game. I’m going to have say like 'Guys, where in the rulebook still says we can’t blow out every team that we play?’ In the championship games, Alabama blew out Notre Dame last year.”
Well, it’s back to football for Winston now. He said the weeks of awards and TV shows and banquets were fun and that the food was great, but “at the end of the day, I’m a football player, not a superstar.”
No, he can’t separate that out. Not anymore.
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