As we continue to await word on the result of the Jameis Winston sexual assault investigation, it’s clear that every team and every coach doesn’t play by the same set of rules.
Namely, Jimbo Fisher and Florida State are getting a free pass from most fans and media over an issue that would have tripped up Urban Meyer and Ohio State.
Can you imagine what the reaction would be if Jameis Winston played for Ohio State and Urban Meyer was playing him at quarterback as he attempted to qualify for the BCS title game?
Meyer would get killed in the media, right?
In fact, the media and fan scrutiny would be so overwhelming I’m not even sure Meyer would be able to play Jameis Winston.
Recall that Meyer suspended running back Carlos Hyde three games for allegations that Hyde slapped a woman in a Columbus club. Less than ideal video emerged of the club incident and didn’t provide any clear certainty of what happened, but despite no charges being field Meyer suspended Hyde regardless.
Winston’s being investigated for something much more serious than Hyde was and he hasn’t missed a snap.
Have you heard anyone question Jimbo Fisher or Florida State’s handling of the Jameis Winston case?
Chances are you haven’t either.
Do you think fans and media would be so quiet if Meyer had a star quarterback involved in the exact same situation?
Of course not.
Now, partly that’s a function of Urban Meyer’s reputation at Florida, that he ignored all sorts of wrongdoing in pursuit of championships. There were a lot of Gator arrests and, trust me, I’ve teed off on Urban Meyer for enabling Aaron Hernandez among others. As if that wasn’t enough, Meyer’s tone deaf responses to criticism have reeked of hypocrisy.
So Meyer’s not coming here with clean hands.
But so what?
If you compare how Meyer handled a much less serious violence allegation against a woman involving a star player this year, with how Jimbo Fisher and Florida State have handled a much more serious allegation involving violence against women featuring a star player, there’s no comparison. One acted and suspended a player even in the absence of charges, while the other has done nothing at all.
Indeed, what about the way the media covered the allegations in both cases?
Hyde was presumed guilty from the start meanwhile Winston has been given every benefit of the doubt.
Why have these individuals been treated so differently by the media? Especially since Winston stands charged of a much more serious offense and the victim in Winston’s case has publicly accused him of rape multiple times.
Is the disparate treatment just related to Urban Meyer?
Can we flip these guys and put them in different places. If Hyde had been accused of punching a girl in a Tallahassee club, would he have even been suspended at all?
Keep in mind that FSU had a receiver arrested for sexual assault this summer, arrests have been fairly common in the Jimbo Fisher Florida State era too. In fact, if you compare the arrest rate at Florida State with the arrest rate at Ohio State during Urban Meyer’s tenure, FSU has actually had more players arrested and for more serious offenses.
Indeed, the Winston-Hyde media discrepancy is emblematic of a larger media divergence, everything about Ohio State’s entire 2013 season has been under siege while FSU has gotten a free pass.
Why is this?
After all, now that most of the season is complete, objective fans can see that FSU’s schedule is weaker than Ohio State’s.
Sure, FSU beat Clemson badly on the road, but Clemson may well be a paper tiger. Clemson’s a six point underdog on the road at South Carolina this weekend and the Tigers owe much of their public acclaim to an opening weekend three point victory over a 7-4 Georgia team. Indeed, Clemson hasn’t beaten a single top 25 BCS team all year. (Clemson’s second and third best wins on the season? Boston College and Georgia Tech. Really. Clemson doesn’t have a single victory over a team with eight wins.) Meanwhile, Florida State’s only top 25 BCS win is over Clemson. Combined these two ACC teams have one top 25 win on the season, a game one of them had to win.
(Stop with the Tweets and the emails, you don’t get credit for teams that happened to be ranked when you played and ended up sucking. Maryland and Northwestern are not top 25 teams).
The ACC is a weaker conference than the Big Ten and Florida State’s out of conference schedule is weaker than Ohio State’s.
Ohio State beat Wisconsin — a team that should only have one loss if the Pac 12 refs were competent — and will play Michigan State in the Big Ten title game.
Those two games are tougher than any two FSU will play.
The Buckeye schedule is far from difficult, but it’s better than Florida State’s.
Yet point me to anyone who has spent the season decrying FSU’s schedule.
No one has. (Yes, I’m guilty here too).
Both on and off the field, the Seminoles have gotten a media free pass all season long.
I don’t know for sure.
But I’m confident of this fact, if Jameis Winston was alleged to have done the same things at Ohio State that he’s alleged to have done at Florida State, the media would be covering this story completely differently.
Fans would be reacting differently too.
Because Urban Meyer and Ohio State are being held to a different standard than Florida State.