Published November 18, 2013
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The second-ranked Florida State Seminoles are in the midst of preparation for Idaho. That's all.
While the sexual assault investigation of quarterback Jameis Winston remains a cloud over the program, the Seminoles have begun their normal week of practice. And they're only talking football.
University officials reminded reporters Monday that coach Jimbo Fisher would only respond to football-related questions during his weekly press conference.
"You always address everything," Fisher said. "Kids know what's going on no matter what the situations are. That's an important part of being a good team is being able to focus and control things that you can control. And deal with the other issues when it's time to deal with them.
"I think that's part of maturity. As coaches, as people in general, everybody has that issue in life. Those are very hard things to do."
There haven't been any noticeable changes around the program and Fisher indicated it's business as usual. He developed a cold over the weekend and jokingly threatened to sneeze on reporters who broke the football-questions-only policy. Otherwise, his press conference was typical.
Winston is scheduled to hold his normal press conference on Wednesday and is expected to start in Saturday's game against Idaho (1-9) barring a development in the case. He was his usual gregarious self during and after the game last weekend.
"Jameis has done a very nice job all season of not being a redshirt freshman as far as his mental approach to playing," Fisher said.
Everything could change at a moment's notice, however. The outcome of the investigation could come after the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game on Dec. 7 — exactly one year from the date of the original report. The uncertainty of Winston's status could also affect the decision-making of Heisman Trophy voters with ballots due after that weekend.
Voters could also drop Florida State out of the top two in the polls and the BCS standings if Winston is eventually suspended.
Winston, 19, is at the center of a sexual assault investigation in which the victim reported the incident from a campus dorm on Dec. 7, 2012. University police fielded the original call and passed it along to the Tallahassee Police Department once it was determined the incident took place off-campus.
Winston's lawyer, Tim Jansen, last week said he had given officials two affidavits from eye witnesses that "completely exonerate my client." He believed the investigation was closed months ago.
Jansen released a statement Sunday expressing concerns that State Attorney Willie Meggs has made "extrajudicial statements" about the investigation during media interviews. Jansen accused Meggs of addressing a confidential law enforcement investigation and inferring that witnesses have been affected by "attorneys and collusion."
Meggs told the Associated Press Sunday evening, "I'm not going to respond to him." The prosecutor also said he would request to speak with Winston, but, "We can't make people talk to us. ... We can't make suspects talk."
The investigation became public last week after several media outlets filed information requests with the Tallahassee police. The department passed the case to Meggs' office for the first time last week.
Florida State released a statement Wednesday saying the university was aware of an investigation and noted that "there is no change in Jameis Winston's status."
Winston played Saturday and completed 19 of 21 passes for 277 yards and two touchdowns in the Seminoles 59-3 victory to finish the Atlantic Coast Conference regular season undefeated. Florida State hosts Idaho, then takes on the Gators at Florida on Nov. 30 before the ACC title game on Dec. 7 in Charlotte, N.C.