Why Jameis Winston Will Be A One-Time Heisman Winner
By Matt Phifer
Since 1975 the college football world has been searching for that next elusive two-time Heisman Trophy winner. Seven players have won college football's highest award and returned to play at least one more season in college since, but none of them have won a second Heisman. Not Ty Detmer. Not Billy Sims. Not Jason White. Not Matt Leinert. Not Tim Tebow. Not Mark Ingram. Not Johnny Manziel. And it won't be Jameis Winston either.
Winston rode a 4,057 yard, 40 touchdown season to the Heisman Trophy and the BCS National Championship. "Famous Jameis" as he became known stood out for his poise on the field and his ability to lead a late game-winning drive in the National Title game soldified his place in Florida State lore. Winston will be the favorite of many to win a second Heisman, but that's just not going to happen.
Recently, we saw many crown Tim Tebow, Mark Ingram and Johnny Manziel the Heisman winner before the season started following their respective Heisman campaigns. Tebow even had two chances. But none of them successfully reclaimed their title.
It really comes down to this: The expectations on Heisman winners for the season following their Heisman winning campaign are just too high. Johnny Manziel threw for over 400 more yards and 11 more touchdowns with a higher completion percentage this past season than in his Heisman winning season. Yes, his rushing numbers were down, but he still dashed for 759 yards and nine touchdowns. Nothing to scoff at there. Matt Leinert threw for almost 500 more yards and made it to the National Championship Game the year after his Heisman, but he was snubbed.
If a player improves his numbers the year after winning the Heisman and still loses what is he supposed to do? Has he not done everything expected of him? The Heisman committee wants to see something utterly amazing and in doing so, they seem to set a bar way too high for even college football's best players to reach. Winston will have to try to improve his numbers without the help of players like Kelvin Benjamin and Devonta Freeman, meaning it may be harder for the Seminoles' quarterback to repeat his astronomical 2013 numbers. Let's face it, if he doesn't at least repeat those numbers, he has almost no chance.
Then there are Winston's off-field issues. The widely publicized sexual assault accusations that the state of Florida decided not to pursue ran the risk of derailing Winston's 2013 Heisman bid. More recent revelations that the Tallahassee Police Department may have mishandled the case, possibly due to Winston's football playing status does not help his image. Winston's April 29th shoplifting incident in which he walked out of a Publix supermarket with over $30 in crab legs calls his character and maturity into question. That alone could have been the moment that Winston lost his bid for a second Heisman. Even if he surpasses his 2013 numbers and has Florida State on the road to the first ever college football playoff, the Heisman committee has a tendency to pass on players with off-field issues.
We could argue all day about whether or not the Heisman committee should look past Winston's past issues, but based on their history they won't. Remember, this is the same committee that stripped Reggie Bush of the Heisman Trophy he had already won for receiving improper benefits while he played. You would be naive to think that Johnny Manziel's partying, which seemed to be a regular headline last summer on ESPN, and his alleged signing of autographs for money didn't hurt his 2013 Heisman chances.
Honestly, barring injury Jameis Winston should have another great season, have Florida State in the conversation for another national title and even be invited to New York for the Heisman ceremony. He just won't go home with a second Heisman. And like the Triple Crown, fans will sit back and wonder when and if we will ever see a double Heisman winner again.
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