12/13/2013

Winston Accuser's Attorney Requests State Investigation, Florida's Governor Says 'No'

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Friday provided perhaps the final -- and most bizarre -- chapter in the Jameis Winston sexual assault investigation when the attorney of Winston's accuser held a press conference in Zephyrhills, Florida.

Patricia Carroll, representing the complainant's family, requested that Attorney General Pam Bondi investigate the investigation conducted by the Tallahassee Police Department and the State Attorney's Office into an alleged rape committed by FSU's starting quarterback, Jameis Winston.

"There is no other choice than to call upon the attorney general of the state of Florida to conduct an independent investigation into this case and the Tallahassee Police Department," said Patricia Carroll, the attorney for the complainant.

That's not going to happen though.

Per a statement released by Florida governor Rick Scott's spokeswoman Jackie Schutz: “The state attorney’s office and FDLE did a thorough investigation of this case and they concluded that no further action on this matter is required.”

The Florida Attorney General serves on the cabinet of Florida's governor, any investigation into the Winston situation would be at Governor Scott's discretion. He isn't giving it. 

Carroll was asked if there would be a civil suit against Winston and told reporters that was "premature." That was before the statement from the governor's office though. 

"I knew I did nothing wrong," Jameis Winston said from New York on Friday. "I knew I could respect the process and I'd eventually be vindicated. It was more about me being silent for my family because I didn't want to put my family in those situations.

"We had so much respect for Mr. [Tim] Jansen and everything going around, and knew I did nothing wrong and everything would be OK."

Meanwhile, down in Zephyrhills Caroll listed off dozens of complaints over the investigation. 

Most notably, the family doesn't believe the labwork. 

"[The accuser] couldn't remember what happened, intermittent memories, immobility. Completely consistent with a date rape or rape drug," said Carroll. 

Carroll claims her client was drugged via a shot she took before leaving the bar. Per the victim's own written statement she arrived at the bar with friends "Marcus and Monique." The accuser could not legally drink at the bar, but her friend Marcus (also underaged) had a way to procure drinks and she shared five or six with him. 

"We were hanging mostly with Marcus' friends, one of them gave me a shot," said the written statement from the accuser.

The labwork -- blood, urine and DNA tests -- do not support that set of events though. Results showed that there were no drugs and minimal levels of alcohol in her system at the time of the incident.

"I specifically spoke to Mr. Meggs and said I don't have confidence in the validity of these tests," Carroll said. 

Carroll also said she believes Winston and teammates Chris Casher and Ronald Darby were given special treatment because they are football players.

"Do I believe that complete failure of a rape case was related to the fact that this gentleman was on the football team? I do," she said. 

Carroll added that she believes Casher and Darby made statements that were 'patently false' and would like to see Casher retroactively charged with video voyeurism.

As for her own client's underage drinking and the role her client's friend played in purchasing her alcohol illegally, Carroll chalked that up to normal college behavior.

Jameis Winston is in New York for the Heisman trophy presentation this weekend. On January 6th, Florida State will play for the BCS Championship in Pasadena.

 

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12/12/2013

Bryan Stork Wins the Rimington Trophy

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Redshirt senior Bryan Stork has won the Rimington Trophy, presented annually to the nation's top center. 

When Stork arrived at Florida State five years ago he sat through Bobby Bowden's 7-6 swan song season. It was the "dark ages" as Stork called it after FSU's 37-7 win over Florida a couple weeks ago.

These days though, "it's our time," said Stork.

That sure does seem to be the case lately. Florida State cleaned up at the Home Depot College Football Awards on Thursday night. Jameis Winston won two awards, Roberto Aguayo was named the nation's top kicker and Stork was honored as the country's best center.

At Florida State though, Stork is much more than just a center.

Whether it was his roll as the senior-most leader on a young offensive line three years ago (a line that has turned into one of the nation's best this year) or his willingness to play anywhere -- and through anything -- that have made Stork one of the most integral players on the entire roster this season for the Seminoles.

Stork's feet and ankles were so bad this season that it was a rarity he could make it through a full week of practice -- he even missed the Wake game as a precaution. But when Stork was on the field the line played with a nasty streak and a level of poise that was lacking without him.

He also demonstrated his versatility at key points this year too, for instance in the UF game when left tackle Cameron Erving left the game briefly it was Stork who slid from center to tackle and held down the fort while Erving got treatment. 

A couple drives later Erving was back in the game, Stork was back at center and the Florida State line barely missed a beat. 

On Thursday Stork was honored for his performance this year with the Rimington award.

He is currently projected to be a second day NFL draft pick. Before that though, Florida State faces Auburn on January 6th in the BCS Championship game.

 

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Roberto Aguayo Wins the Lou Groza Award

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Jameis Winston wasn't the only Florida State redshirt freshman making noise this season -- Roberto Aguayo also made his fair share in 2013.

How do you replace the most prolific kicker in NCAA history?

How about by going 119/120 on your kicks and assaulting your predecessor's name in the record books?

Because that's what Roberto Aguayo did. Dustin Hopkins? Pretty good kicker. At this rate though, Aguayo will catch Hopkins' NCAA record for points by a kicker sometime in his junior year. He's already passed him on several other kicking records at FSU.

Aguayo was 19/20 on field goals and perfect on extra points this season. He scored 147 points, nine back from the national best and tops among all kickers. Perhaps more impressively, 'Berto outscored Florida State's competition by himself this season, 147-139. 

On Thursday night Aguayo did something Dustin Hopkins never could, he won the Lou Groza award presented annually to the nation's top kicker. 

Aguayo is FSU's third Groza winner. Sebastian Janikowski and Graham Gano also earned the honor. All three former Florida State kickers, Hopkins, Janikowski and Gano, now kick in the NFL.

Next up for Aguayo and the Seminoles is the BCS Championship game on January 6th in Pasadena. 

 

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Jameis Winston Wins the Davey O'Brian Award, Named Walter Camp Player of the Year

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The Home Depot College Football Awards were held Thursday evening in Orlando, FL and the Florida State Seminoles brought home plenty of hardware for their 13-0 season.

While Roberto Aguayo and Bryan Stork both won awards of their own, it was Jameis Winston that was the big winner on Thursday night. 

A 19 year old redshirt freshman, Winston burst onto the scene with a 25/27, 4 TD debut at Pittsburgh in the Seminoles' season opener and he hasn't looked back since.

Winston set a new ACC mark for touchdown passes in a season, broke Sam Bradford's NCAA record for TD passes by a freshman and set a new national freshman passing yardage record this season. He seemed poised to run away with the Heisman by the beginning of November.

Winston finished the season with 3,820 yards, 38 touchdowns and 10 picks on 67.9 percent passing. In the entire history of FSU football no quarterback had ever thrown as many TD passes in a season -- Winston did it in his very first year on the field.

For his success this year Winston was awarded the Davey O'Brian trophy (given annually to the nation's top quarterback) and given the Walter Camp Player of the Year Award on Thursday night. 

"When you have a team like that, anyone can go out there and do that," Winston said of his teammates after winning both awards.

The 6-4 redshirt freshman was also nominated for the Maxwell award but was edged out by Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron for the honor.

On January 6th Winston will attempt to cap his phenomenal freshman season with a win in the BCS Championship game. 

 

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12/09/2013

Jameis Winston, Cameron Erving Win ACC Yearly Awards

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The Atlantic Coast Conference handed out its yearly awards at the ACC Night of Legends in Charlotte this past weekend and the Florida State Seminoles took home plenty of hardware.

Most of the awards had already been announced in the week leading up to the ACC Championship Game, but on Friday the players were on hand to pick up their awards.

Left Tackle Cameron Erving won the Jacobs Blocking Trophy, presented annually to the conference's top blocker. Erving was the first Seminole to win the award since Rodney Hudson won it in 2009 and 2010.

The big winner was Jameis Winston though.

Winston won the ACC Offensive Rookie of the year, ACC Rookie of the year, ACC Offensive Player of the year and ACC Player of the year. 

Duke head coach David Cutcliffe won the ACC Coach of the year for taking Duke 10-2 and winning to Coastal division.

Here's a quick video highlight courtesy of Seminoles.com:

 

(Photo courtesy of Seminoles.com)

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12/08/2013

The BCS Ends Like it Started for Florida State: With the Seminoles Playing For it All

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16 years ago Florida State University played in the very first BCS Championship Game. On January 6th, FSU will also play in the very last BCS Championship game.

In between the program has fallen on hard times and risen again.

"Florida State was in the first three National Championships '98, '99 and 2000 and all those National Championship games, it's kind of funny how it has come full circle like that and I do appreciate the history of college football that way," said Jimbo Fisher. "And we all complained about the BCS and everything that goes on, but it's funny how many times they get it right and how the history just keeps repeating itself."

The Seminoles will square off against the Auburn Tigers, who beat then-no. 1 Alabama two weeks ago and won the SEC Championship game against Missouri on Saturday.

“It honestly didn't matter to me who it was,” said Fisher.  “Auburn [has a tremendous program].  I've coached there, I know them... but I'm just glad that Florida State is there.”

The storylines for this game are too numerous to count.

Fisher cut his teeth coaching in Division I under Terry Bowden at Auburn in the early 90’s. Bowden had coached Fisher as a quarterback in college -- Fisher had even followed him from Salem College to Samford as a senior -- and he gave Fisher a job coaching quarterbacks at Auburn in 1993.

That year would prove fateful for both the Tigers and the Seminoles.

While Bobby Bowden’s Florida State team went 12-1 and won the first national title in the program’s history the Auburn Tigers went unbeaten -- Unfortunately, the Tigers were on probation and weren’t eligible for the postseason.

“I always tell Florida State this:  We should have had half of that National Championship in '93.  We were the only undefeated team in the country,” Fisher said.

20 years later Fisher has returned Florida State to prominence. His team is unbeaten again.

Still, the Seminoles will head to Pasadena as potential usurpers in the eyes of some.

For nearly the past decade the SEC has been king, dominating the BCS and making other contenders look foolish. The state of Alabama in particular has been home to the BCS Champion the last four years straight.

Auburn will be looking to continue that streak and win the last BCS Championship ever awarded.

"We're not going to get involved in all this SEC/ACC stuff because we done made it to where we are and we're not done yet,” said Jameis Winston. “We fear no one.  Our opponent has no face, so we don't care.”

Part of the Seminoles’ confidence may stem from the fact that they are built like an SEC team.

Just don’t tell Fisher that.

“I built our program like I thought we needed to build it to win a championship.  We don't model ourselves after nobody,” said Fisher.  “We're Florida State, we do things the way we do them and the way I think you have to play to win a championship and the kind of team you have to have to win a championship.  That's the way I think we tried to build this team."

Florida State boasts the top-ranked scoring defense in the nation, creates turnovers at an alarming rate (they lead the country with 25 interceptions) and the Seminoles brutalize opponents in the trenches.

Not to mention the fact FSU is on pace to score more points this season than any team in college football history.

Still, until another conference can beat the SEC for a BCS title -- the last BCS title in this case -- some will still going to be skeptical of the Seminoles’ chances.

“Yeah, people are always going to doubt us or have a feeling of upset or something.  But that's why we have that chip on our shoulder,” said Telvin Smith. “That's why we play the way we do, and that just drives us, that feeds us, and that's what it did the whole season, it just fed us, and now we're here going to the big one.”

 

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Thoughts From the Morning After: The Joyner Effect

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Last night Florida State finished the first 13-win season in the program's history and nobody played a bigger role in that than Lamarcus Joyner.

There are plenty of seniors that have had an impact on the return to prominence that FSU is experiencing this season, but few players -- not just in the present, either, but in the entire history of Florida State football -- have done more to prop up the program.

"This program has been down for a while and Coach Fisher came in here and did a pretty great job of recruiting and rebuilding this program," said Joyner last night. "Just to be a part of something special, to be able to bring this program back, watching this program when I was a young child, and to be a part of it and be a part of something special, there's no better feeling right now."

Fisher may have recruited the class, but Joyner acted as Fisher's glue. As a high-profile recruit Joyner used his clout to talk other recruits into signing with FSU at various camps and all-star games. 

'Let's bring FSU back,' was the mantra. And Joyner used it to ensure the class he arrived with would be tight knit and focused on the same goal.

He continued with that mantra once he got to Florida State, using it to lock down recruits on official visits and to build camaraderie with his teammates.

"If you look at the progress that we made over the years, Chick‑Fil‑A Bowl, Champs Sports Bowl, Orange Bowl, we kept getting better, we kept climbing the ladder, and that's what I envisioned to do, coming back as a senior leader to keep climbing that ladder," Joyner said.

Last season, after FSU had won 12 games, recaptured the ACC and won the Orange Bowl, Joyner made the decision to return for his senior season. He likely would have been a second or third round pick. 

The self-interested decision would have been to turn pro. Joyner has admitted before that one of his biggest motivations is getting his family out of its current financial predicament. He had that chance last year and nobody would have faulted him for taking it.

But Joyner came to FSU with a purpose -- one he felt he had yet to fulfill -- and he opted to return for his senior season, this time with one mission: to make sure FSU made it the rest of the way up that proverbial ladder.

"It just goes back to spring training, fourth quarter drills.  I mean, training together and all, just seeing the nation doubt us and being able to come to practice and work every day and look Telvin and Jameis and Coach Fisher in the eye and say 'I love you, Coach;' 'I love you, Jameis;' 'I love you, Telvin,'" said Joyner.

"And then you go find yourself telling someone you love them every day, then you just build a brotherhood, and we started believing in each other.  That's when I felt that we was the best team in the country, and I said that early on at the ACC kickoff that it didn't matter what people said about us or think about us, it was all about what we felt about and thought about each other."

Joyner embodies the ferocity of this year's Florida State defense perfectly. He gets every last ounce out of his physical talents, plays selflessly, trusts his teammates and attacks without hesitation.

That's why it was fitting that Joyner lead the way for Florida State's defense on Saturday night -- much as he has done all season.

It was the former Ft. Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas standout that delivered a fearsome blow to set the physical tempo early on when the teams were still feeling one another out.

It was Joyner who came up with a key interception early in the second quarter after Duke threatened following a Jamison Crowder punt return.

"Larmarcus' interception changed the momentum and got it back for us and it allowed us to go back down and score a touchdown," said Jimbo Fisher.  'That play by the defense to change the momentum by Lamarcus, it was a great play by a great player."

Now only 60 minutes of football stand between Joyner -- and his Florida State teammates -- and their goal of winning a national title. Well, 60 minutes and Auburn.

Perhaps appropriately if the Seminoles are to best the Tigers it will take a big performance from a nickel corner in run support to help stymie the Auburn rushing attack. That means Lamarcus Joyner will have to step up for the Seminoles one final time.

If the past four years are any indication, Joyner will be ready come January 6th.

"We have to just do the little things that we've been doing all season, and by the time we're in California and ready to play in that National Championship, then I'll be able to say that we're confident," said Joyner. "But it's all about the power of preparation and what we do throughout this week and the weeks that come to prepare for this game."

 

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Rapid Reaction: ACC Championship Game -- FSU 45 Duke 7

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Florida State is headed to Pasadena.

Credit Duke for being scrappy and having a great gameplan. Unfortunately, they just aren't in Florida State's class. Even without playing their best game, the Seminoles stomped the Blue Devils 45-7 on Saturday night.

In the process Florida State won its 14th ACC title, punched its ticket to its fourth BCS championship game and won 13 games in a season for the first time in school history.

Now the Seminoles will play for a BCS Championship on January 6th -- likely against Auburn.

Jameis Winston took home MVP honors on Saturday night for a 19/32, 330 yard performance. Winston tossed three touchdowns on the night but also had two picks. He admitted after the game that he had just been a little bit too amped. 

"I came out too amped for the Miami game too," said Winston. "As you saw, I also threw two picks [in that game]."

Fortunately for Winston and his offensive teammates the Florida State defense was more than capable of carrying the team on Saturday night. Duke managed just 239 yards and didn't score until the second team defense had taken the field. FSU's defense was superb.

When Duke drove the ball following Devonta Freeman's first quarter fumble, the defense held and forced a long field goal. Duke missed it. FSU never fell behind (In fact, FSU still hasn't trailed in a game since they played Boston College back in late September).

When Jamison Crowder returned a punt inside the Florida State 40, Lamarcus Joyner grabbed an interception to snuff out the Blue Devils' drive. 

Everytime Duke made a play on offense, FSU's defense answered. 

"We like to go out there [and] force our will on them. So that's what we try to go out there and do," said LB Telvin Smith.

By the time Florida State's offense got rolling, the Seminoles had the game well in hand. Duke came in to the evening with a very good gameplan and knew most of FSU's tendencies based on formations and packages. Early on that threw Winston and the Seminole offense for a loop.

But Fisher was smart enough to pull out a few previously unseen wrinkles to toss the Duke defense off the scent. Once Florida State introduced the threat of the option, the run game opened up. Florida State ended up rolling up 239 rushing yards -- including three touchdowns -- and Duke never really looked comfortable once they had to account for Winston running the ball too.

That in turn opened up the passing game, Kelvin Benjamin in particular. Benjamin caught two touchdown passes, giving him 14 on the year. He's now second all-time at FSU for the most TD receptions in a season. He's caught more in a single year than Ron Sellers, Peter Warrick, Anquan Boldin or Fred Biletnikoff ever did at FSU in a single year. That's an impressive group, and Benjamin has shown the potential this year to be as talented as any of them.

Benjamin's first touchdown grab put FSU up 7-0. He was double covered and caught a ball that frankly shouldn't have been thrown by jumping over and out-muscling the two defenders.

Later in the game he scored from 54 yards out thanks to his ability to break tackles and stay on his feet. The season may have started with Rashad Greene as the team's most dangerous receiver -- and he still is every bit as dynamic -- but Benjamin has passed him as this team's alpha receiver. 

Now Florida State gets the next month to prepare for Auburn and the BCS title game.

FSU played in the first ever BCS title game and they will play in the last one too. In between the program has fallen on hard times and risen again. A win on January 6th would bring the Seminoles full circle.

All that stands between Florida State and its goal now is Auburn. But don't expect FSU to get wide-eyed about playing an SEC team for a national championship though.

"We're not going to get involved in this SEC/ACC stuff because we done made it to where we are and we're not done yet," said Winston. "We fear no one. Our opponent has no face, so we don't care."

 

(Photo courtesy of Travis Register)

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12/07/2013

Halftime: ACC Championship Game -- FSU 17 Duke 0

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The Duke Blue Devils have made life very difficult on the Florida State Seminoles early on in this one. FSU is up 17-0, but it hasn't been easy.

For the first time since 2012 -- when FSU hosted Florida -- the Seminoles didn't score a point in the first quarter.

FSU got close, Devonta Freeman was just feet from the goal-line on the second Florida State drive of the game, but after running for 22 yards the junior coughed it up at the three and Duke recovered.

The Blue Devils almost capitalized on the turnover too. Duke drove all the way down to the Seminole 30 -- converting a 3rd-and-16 at one point -- before a missed field goal caused the drive to go for naught. Had the Blue Devils scored it would have marked the first time the Seminoles have trailed in a game since late September (Boston College).

Duke has squandered three opportunities with the ball in FSU territory so far.

Florida State didn't get started on offense until the end of the first quarter when they managed to drive 64 yards in nine plays and Jameis Winston found Kelvin Benjamin in the endzone. Even then, it was not the typical Florida State offensive drive.

So far Jameis Winston has not looked Heisman-like. He's missed on several throws -- including a late 2nd quarter INT -- and has struggled with the different looks Duke is throwing at him. 

Duke has held Florida State's offense in check for most of the first half. Anytime the Seminoles bring more than two receivers on the field they've dropped their safeties deep before the snap. Anytime FSU brings in a big set they load the box. 

Credit David Cutcliffe for an excellent gameplan. The Blue Devils seem acutely aware of the Seminoles' tendencies and they are playing the odds well on almost every down. 

But Jimbo Fisher had a few tricks up his sleeve too.

At the end of the first half, Fisher responded to Duke's guesswork with something they hadn't seen yet -- Florida State began to run an option set.

First Winston ran a read-option, then a traditional option where he cut back against the grain rather than pitch it. By the time FSU handed it to Karlos Williams for a 12-yard touchdown run, Duke was on its heels.

FSU hasn't run an option package all season. Credit Fisher for breaking tendency and whipping out a new wrinkle when the Seminoles needed it most.

The Seminoles also added a late score on a Robert Aguayo 45-yard field goal.

This game isn't over though. Not by a long shot.

Duke is scrappy, they tackle well and they believe that they belong in this game now after a very solid first half. 

This one could come down to the fourth quarter. Or FSU could go on a run early in the third. It's still too early to tell.

Check back after the game for rapid reaction.

Statistical Leaders

Passing: Jameis Winston (12/21 171, TD, INT)
Rushing: Devonta Freeman (9-49)
Receiving: Kelvin Benjamin (3-41 TD)

 

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Report: Jimbo Fisher Extended at Florida State

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The Palm Beach Post's Tom D'Angelo is reporting that Florida State and Jimbo Fisher have agreed to an extension that will make him one of the top ten highest paid coaches in football.

Per D'Angelo:

"Under the new deal Fisher will average about $4.1 million a season, sources have told the Palm Beach Post. The length of the contract will be five to seven years. Fisher’s base salary of $2.75 million this season was 21st nationally.

An announcement is expected early next week."

Fisher could have potentially become a target for a program like Texas if he wasn't given the deal quickly.

Athletic Director Stan Wilcox declined to comment when asked about Fisher's status a few weeks ago. Apparently, that didn't mean he wasn't already working on a new deal for FSU's 48 year-old head coach.

The extension is well-deserved. Fisher took over a 7-6 program four years ago, since then FSU has won 12 games twice and is (as of this writing) playing for its second straight ACC title and a berth in the BCS title game.

Keep checking for updates. 

 

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