Hey, we know there's a good chance the Orange are going to get blown out this Saturday when they play the No. 2 team in the nation, the Florida St. Seminoles. But, as Scott Shafer would like it, we're going to be hard-nosed and grind though this week's Q&A with SB Nation's Tomahawk Nation.
(Read if Dylan's breakdown of the Jameis situation it take you way back to the great times of Bernie Fine, Fab Melo and James Southerland doesn't it?)
TNIAAM: It would be non-journalistic of me to not start off the Q&A with a question about this Jameis Winston sexual assault situation. Now, I am not going to ask if you think if this thing is going to get worse, but I will ask is this surprising considering most of the talk has been about Winston's pretty decent character? Also, do you think this will distract him at all?
TN: These last 24 hours have been a bit of a whirlwind, as you might imagine. I'll go ahead an briefly lay out where we stand as of my writing this at 6 pm on Thursday evening, because I'm sure you guys want to know and I can't blame you. It's pretty much all we've been doing, so it's fresh in my mind. I also don't see much happening between now and tomorrow morning. (/Knocks on wood furiously)
On December 7 of 2012, there was an incident of some sort. We don't know exactly what it was, and we don't know what Jameis's connection to it was. There was a report filed (which described the suspect as being between 5'8" and 5'11" weighing about 240) and his lawyer was contacted. He gave the police two witness affidavits. The police never talked to Jameis and his lawyer was told that the case was closed in February. However, the report doesn't seem to have ever actually been closed. We're told that this isn't really out of the ordinary for cases of this nature without sufficient evidence or a suspect, and it never went to the State Attorney. The open report also allowed the Tallahassee Police Department to redact a lot of information in it, which they often do to protect the identities of parties involved. For whatever reason, 11 months later, someone tipped TMZ, which requested records for the date in question and included Winston's name. TPD was obviously then aware that the information was going to hit the internet, and so it turned over the report to the State Attorney yesterday to review its investigation. The State Attorney was none too pleased that yesterday was the first he'd heard of the report, and today punted it back to TPD for further investigation.
There are a lot of things we don't know. We don't know who tipped TMZ, which cites "sources in law enforcement." Relatedly, we don't know why. We don't know if Jameis is a potential suspect, witness, etc. We do know that the initial request for records was filed last Friday, the day after Oregon lost and the peak of both FSU and Jameis Winston mania. We also know that TMZ is a worthless organization and that they ran a sensational subsequent article accusing TPD of a cover-up this afternoon. Honestly, our staff at TN is not worried about Jameis facing legal trouble for this incident. There is no objective evidence to suggest that he was involved in the actual sexual battery, and we expect the State Attorney to dispose of this case fairly shortly after playing some political volleyball with the police department.
It goes without saying that if Winston is somehow found to have committed this act, we would support punishing him to the fullest extent of the law. I think your perception of his character is shared by just about everyone, though. Aside from some rival fans, the nation had fallen in love with #5 this season. It speaks to the larger climate of fandom in college sports. We all love our programs, but I think we all harbor illusions as to how much we really know about the people within them. I maintain my previous notions regarding Jameis's character, but I understand that I could be completely mistaken. It's truly a shame that a young woman may have been the victim of a sexual battery and the focus is so far from that fact.
I don't know how this will affect him, but if I'm guessing between distracted and even more focused, I'm going with the latter. The kid has been an absolute buzzsaw this year for opposing defenses, and I have to think that getting out on the field will be a welcome activity for him this weekend. We'll see how it affects his generally jovial demeanor, though.
TNIAAM: Last season, FSU was led by E.J. Manuel at quarterback, who ended up being the first signal caller picked in the draft, and the team put together a decent season going to the Orange Bowl and winning. However, it seems like this FSU team is on a different level with Winston, why do you think that is?
TN: (I promise to be brief for the rest of my answers)
EJ and Jameis have very similar measurables - size, arm talent, speed, etc. There's no doubt that Manuel was a very good college quarterback who led FSU to a lot of success. However, Winston is, as you said, on another level. He's really a transcendent player in Florida State's offense, and it's because he does very well that with which EJ struggled. Jameis recognizes coverages, gets through his progressions very quickly, reads the middle of the field well, and throws guys open. Manuel struggled with every single one of these things, and also didn't take as well to Jimbo Fisher's often-confrontational coaching style. Winston is more like Christian Ponder was in this regard, able to take Jimbo's criticisms without damage to his psyche. His ability has seemingly led to everyone else on offense raising their level of play, from the line, to the backs, to the receivers. Jameis is a special, special player.
TNIAAM: Is it weird for your fan base to be playing Syracuse in a conference game, or do you guys like the changes in the ACC? Are you guys secretly lying to all of us are going bolt to the SEC whenever they get an official invite? Or do you think all the conference alignment stuff is officially done?
TN: I think it's fair to say it's a little weird. It was on Labor Day night in Pittsburgh, too, so it's not your fault. For the most part, we liked the additions to the conference because of the stabilization and viability they ensured, only furthered by the grant of rights deal that happened a while back. The key is obviously the football money, as it dwarfs revenues from everything else. So, we hope to see a more competitive #goacc football field in the coming years. The addition of Louisville and partial addition of Notre Dame should help there. I'd be lying if I said FSU wouldn't love to go to the SEC, but that ship sailed like 20 years ago. Maybe there's a tiny chance that opportunity comes around again in 10-15 years, but I doubt it. I think conference realignment is done until at least that time because of the media deals we've seen over the past few years.
TNIAAM: On your schedule you have Syracuse, Idaho and Florida. The final game is the only one that stands out as maybe the stopgap game between FSU and a National Championship game against Alabama. Be honest, as a fan base are you guys to gearing up for the National Championship game at this point or is there that little voice in the back of your head worrying about fall flat on your face?
TN: Many FSU fans have begun to make travel arrangements for Pasadena in early January. As bad as Florida has looked, that game in the Swamp is still an unsettling thought for many. Playing a really good Virginia Tech defense on a cold night in Charlotte a week later is not a particularly attractive proposition either. I don't think most FSU fans would call a title berth a lock at this point, particularly after the past decade of failure. But, the odds of the ‘Noles ending up in the game are about as good as they could possibly be at this point in a given season. The prices of a modern championship game trip to LA are also nuts, so if you're going to do it then it makes a lot of sense to start looking now. I know I'll be watching the Florida game and the ACC title game with baited breath, but we feel pretty good about our chances right now.
TNIAAM: I've been asking this about all the ACC blogs, so here it goes: As a fan base what do you guys like, what do you not like, what do you really, really not like? Rants and tangents are welcomed.
TN: This is a really good question.
LIKE: Discussing uniforms. Oh my, if you ever get ‘Noles fans started on uniform philosophy, you'd better be ready for 1200 comments in 2 hours. The diversity of opinions on the subject is amazing. Some fans are restless with Jimbo Fisher's basic garnet/gold home and white/gold away combinations and want to see him utilize combinations seen in years past, like garnet/garnet, white/garnet, white/white. Some even like the Pro Combat uniforms Nike rolled out in 2009. Yet others like the "Unconquered" uniforms, which were black over black. Then you have the traditionalists, who may well take a knife to someone who tries to mess with FSU's storied helmet. I think most find common ground in detesting the non-gold pants Nike has rolled out this season.
ALSO: Twitter. Hell hath no fury like FSU Twitter scorned.
DISLIKE: Conservative defense. Florida State ranked in the top 5 on defense last season. You would not have known this had you visited FSU message boards. ‘Noles fans just cannot handle defensive philosophies of keeping the ball in front and making an offense execute its way down the field, no matter how successful it is. This is due to FSU having made its name under legendary defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews, whose cover-0/1, man-blitz heavy defenses were the terror of opposing offenses until 2008-09. Mark Stoops did a great job in Tallahassee, but I think more ‘Noles fans than should've were happy to see him go. Thankfully, Jeremy Pruitt brings a far more aggressive, Alabama-style scheme.
LOATHE: TMZ. Wait, that's universal. Well, let's go with Miami fan(s?). We think there are at least 12 actual, human ones. The rest are of the internet, so their numbers are difficult to verify. When the news was announced last week that the Braves were moving to Cobb County to be closer to their fanbase, one of our writers speculated that Miami may be moving its stadium to the internet out of similar aspirations. I mean, look at this guy:
I rest my case.
TNIAAM: At this point I am just avoiding any football talks, because is there really a point to talk football? Thought so. So, lets talk about the tailgate/college atmosphere in Doak Campbell Stadium. What is FSU best known for (we heard A LOT about barbeque from Carolina fans) and where should we go if Orange fans decided to make a trip down this weekend?
TN: I'm sure you get a lot of answers about the college towns in the ACC to this question and there are undoubtedly some wonderful ones. I'm going to focus on the game experience, because I think there are really three in the conference that are special: FSU, Clemson, and Virginia Tech. The tailgate scene should be good in the lots around the stadium, and the weather should be great for a mid-November 3:30 game, too. The biggest piece of advice I have is to get into the stadium early. I'd advise being in line an hour to 45 minutes before kick, because the lines for entry at Doak are notoriously hit-or-miss. Once you're in, enjoy the pregame performance of the Marching Chiefs, a fantastic band. Chief Osceola and his horse, Renegade, will take the field at 3:30, and the former will plant the flaming spear at midfield after the coin-toss. It's a really special moment, and I hope Syracuse fans get to experience it. There are plenty of food options downtown, but the main attraction in Tallahassee is the game, and I'd suggest Cuse fans making the trip spend most of their time around the stadium.
TNIAAM: Finally, what are you guys trying to accomplish this weekend (a smashing and then move on or are there actual thing FSU needs to work on)? Prediction on whether or not to take the 39 points or not would be welcomed too.
TN: This team has been preaching their mantra of "going higher" every week. It's been very focused, and its goal is within reach. It needs to continue to take things one week at a time and take care of Syracuse. I don't think there are particular things that FSU needs to work on, though I do think the ‘Noles are already preparing for heavy offensive formation sets and concepts like those they'll see from Florida. I sort of think that the Jameis situation will fuel this team, and I just don't see how Syracuse is going to be able to run the ball or cover FSU's receivers. If you get down against FSU it has the tendency to snowball because the ‘Noles from the nickel package are absolutely lethal. I've also heard that FSU is doing a touchdown drive for charity, which is probably bad news for you guys. I think the line is about right, and a 49-10 spread would not surprise me.