In wake of Winston case, Tallahassee PD to revise policies

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In early December of last year, following a three-week investigation, the Florida State’s Attorney office announced that there wasn’t enough evidence to prove that a sexual encounter between Jameis Winston and an alleged victim was not consensual, and that no sexual assault charges would be filed against the player. The state’s attorney in charge of that investigation, William Meggs, was highly critical of the Tallahassee Police Department’s investigation into the alleged rape in a New York Times report a handful of months later, a report in which the university subsequently expressed its disappointment.

Thanks at least in part to that Times report, however, the police in the college town are set to revamp how it handles complaints of sexual assault.

The Times wrote in an article Friday that the TPD “has begun working with a respected women’s advocacy group to rewrite its sexual assault complaint policy.” Additionally, the TPD will have all of its complaint policies, sexual assault and otherwise, reviewed by a Washington-based, non-profit research group

The executive director of the Refuge House told the paper that she is pleased with the steps the new police chief is taking.

“I applaud the chief of police’s initiative in both of these instance,” Meg Baldwin said.

Meggs unleashed a verbal barrage against the TPD in April, not the least of which involved detectives initially reaching out by phone to the Florida State quarterback in an attempt to get him in for questioning involving the alleged Dec. of 2012 rape.  That tack failed as Winston lawyered up and was never interviewed by the TPD.

“It’s insane to call a suspect on the phone,” Meggs said in April. “First off, you don’t know who you are talking to.” He said he would have gone straight to the baseball field. “If you walked up to Jameis Winston in the middle of baseball practice and said, ‘Come here, son, I need to talk to you,’ he would have said, ‘Yes, sir.'”

In a statement sent out in November 20, 2013 — exactly one week after reports of Winston being investigated for sexual assault surfaced — by the alleged victim’s family, it was claimed that the accuser’s attorney was warned by a Tallahassee Police detective that her client’s life “could be made miserable” if she pursued the complaint against Winston. The detective, the statement claimed, indicated that Tallahassee is “a big football town,” leaving the family to fear that the alleged victim could “be targeted on campus.”

The alleged victim, who was a Florida State student at the time of the alleged sexual assault, subsequently left school and moved out of state.

The family’s accusations led to a firestorm of criticism from the national media as well as women’s advocacy groups, and likely played a significant role in this policy development as well.

Lamar Jackson leapfrogged by Baker Mayfield as Bovada’s Heisman favorite

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So much for that wagering momentum, I guess.

Entering the 2017 season as not only the reigning winner but also as seemingly an afterthought, a pair of scintillating performances to open the year pushed Lamar Jackson to the head of Bovada.lv‘s Heisman Trophy pack.  Coming off a 26-point Week 3 loss to now-No. 2 Clemson in which he totaled nearly 400 yards of offense and three touchdowns, the Louisville quarterback has seen his odds lengthen a bit from 7/4 a week ago to 11/2 in Bovada‘s latest Heisman release.

Bovada’s new betting front-runner?  Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield, who went from 4/1 to 7/4.  Sam Darnold, 6/1, also saw his odds shorten slightly to a Jackson-match 11/2.

Oklahoma State quarterback Mason Rudolph, 10/1 in the previous odds release, is now at 9/1, same as the holding-steady-from-a-week-ago Penn State running back Saquon Barkley.

There’s also, interestingly, one true freshman on the board: J.K. Dobbins.  The Ohio State running back went from off the board to 40/1 odds.  His starting quarterback, J.T. Barrett, saw his odds go from 25/1 to 33/1.

Below is the latest set of 2017 Heisman Trophy odds, again courtesy of Bovada.lv.

Illinois adds UCF grad transfer QB Pete DiNovo

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Illinois has an immediate addition to its quarterback room.  Or its wide receivers room, depending on how things play out.

Pete DiNovo confirmed to the Tampa Bay Times Monday that he has decided to transfer to the Illini.  The acknowledgment comes a month after DiNovo decided to transfer from Central Florida.

As a graduate transfer, DiNovo would be eligible to play immediately this season.  Per the player, a former high school teammate and former high school coach currently at Illinois played a role in his decision.

“I couldn’t be happier with the way everything turned out,” DiNovo told the Times. “I can come up here and learn from Lovie (Smith) and everyone else on the coaching staff.”

DiNovo began his Knights career as a quarterback — he replaced Blake Bortles as UCF’s starter before being quickly replaced himself — before being moved to wide receiver before being moved back under center this offseason.  How the Illini will use DiNovo, who has an eye on a career in coaching after his playing days are over, remains to be seen.

UTEP stays in-house to replace fired OC Brent Pease

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Not surprisingly, UTEP will stay in-house following its in-season dismissal of one of its coordinators.

The Miners confirmed Sunday that offensive coordinator Brent Pease had been fired.  A day later, the football program announced that Brian Natkin has been given the keys to the offense by Sean Kugler and will call the plays moving forward.

Natkin began the season as special teams coordinator and tight ends coach.  He was an All-American tight end at UTEP a decade-and-a-half ago and became a full-time assistant at his alma mater in 2011.

Through three games, UTEP ranks second-to-last nationally in total offense at 204.7 yards per game and in yards per play (3.89). The Miners are also 125th (out of 130 teams) in scoring at 13 points per game.

The promotion of Natkin also means there will be some additional adjustments to Kugler’s staff.  Wide receivers coach Chuck Veliz will take over Pease’s other role as quarterbacks coach, while safeties coach Don Yanowsky assume Natkin’s duties as special teams coordinator.

Natkin will continue in his role as tight ends coach.

Oregon State QB Jake Luton discharged from hospital after leaving Wazzu game on a stretcher

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Oregon State quarterback Jake Luton was taken away on a stretcher after a tackle left him motionless on the Reser Stadium turf on Saturday.

Family members were called to the field, where medical professionals stabilized an apparently unconscious Luton and removed his face mask. The game continued, of course, as Oregon State lost to Washington State 52-23 despite Luton’s 179 passing yards and 22 rushing yards.

Luton tweeted on Saturday night that he’ll “be back.”

Luton has since been discharged from the hospital, according to The Oregonian, though his father posted a message stating Luton was probably dealing with a “thoracic spine fracture.”

Oregon State is off Saturday before hosting Washington on Sept. 30.