Jameis Winston

Jameis on paying players: ‘free education… enough for me’


Earlier this year, and after his father did itJameis Winston again stoked the flames that he might (unexpectedly) stay at Florida State beyond the 2014 season and eschew (for now) early entry into the NFL.

In very passionate comments, Winston left no doubt as to the value he places on the education he’s receiving at FSU.

“It’s very important to me. I was always raised as a student first and an athlete second,” Winston said to NFL.com in regards to earning his degree before moving on to the NFL.

“I think that’s the main purpose in college. Some athletes lose that perspective. It’s about being a student-athlete, and not just getting that easy money and going to the league. Even if kids leave early, I would want them to come back and get that degree.”

Given the huge amount of money pouring into school coffers off the backs of these student-athletes, there’s been a push like never before to see them benefit from a financial windfall that grows exponentially from year to year. Winston, based on his star power earned through winning the Heisman and his Seminoles claiming the final BCS title last season, would be one of the players who could very easily cash in on his image before turning professional.

Winston, though, has no desire.

“We’re blessed to get a free education… and that’s enough for me,” the quarterback said during the opening of the ACC Media Days.

(Writer’s note: feel free to get the “he stole crab legs, he obviously needs the money” jokes out of your system. Go ahead. I’ll wait.)

(OK, we good? Good.)

Speaking of ill-gotten seafood, Winston, for all the highs, has seen his share of lows over the past several months.  In addition to the shoplifting citation, Winston was wrapped up in an in-season controversy involving the alleged rape the year before of an FSU student and subsequent investigation.  Winston was never charged, but the off-field incidents — one also involving the theft of soda from a Burger King as well as a long-running BB gun battle that caused property damage — have put a dent in his image to varying degrees.

In regards to the crab caper, Winston said in a statement of apology at the time that his ” conduct needs to be above reproach.”  Sunday afternoon, Winston reiterated that stance and expounded it.

“Definitely not, because I fixed everything,” Winston said when asked if the way he looks at people, the media and law enforcement has changed. “I was cleared, and I mean, I’ve got to hold myself to a certain standard that the media may view me in, that the regular people may view me in, but I know I can do that because I’ve learned the true definition of being a leader and being a leader on and off the field. As a leader for the Florida State Seminoles, I not only have to respect the name on the back of my jersey, but I have a great university that is looking for me to be a great student athlete, and more importantly I have teammates that are counting on me.

“Accountability is something that’s very important to me, and so, yes, I have learned, and I’ve learned that leadership is more important playing the quarterback position than anything else.”

FSU and head coach Jimbo Fisher can only hope that Winston is as loud or louder on the field as he was in 2013, and much, much quieter off of it since December of last year.

Kentucky QB Patrick Towles to transfer

Patrick Towles

Kentucky quarterback Patrick Towles will transfer, he announced in an Instagram post Sunday afternoon.

Towles leaves school as Kentucky’s sixth-most prolific passer, completing 427-of-759 passes for 5,099 yards with 24 touchdowns and 24 interceptions.

Once compared to Ben Roethlisberger, Towles’ career peeked in a 2014 game with then-No. 1 Mississippi State, as he completed 24-of-43 passes for 390 yards with two touchdowns in a 45-31 loss to the Bulldogs.

But Kentucky stumbled down the stretch, starting 5-1 and finishing 5-7, and Towles stumbled through a 2015 campaign in which he threw nine touchdowns against 14 interceptions.

He’d been passed by freshman Drew Barker by the end of the season, and threw only four passes in a loss to Louisville on Saturday.

A junior, Towles will complete his political science degree in December and be eligible for immediate playing time at a new destination in 2016.

Penn State fires offensive coordinator John Donovan

Penn State football practice, Sept 9, 2015

Penn State has fired offensive coordinator John Donovan, the program announced Sunday.

“I have tremendous respect for John and the work he has put in the last five years,” head coach James Franklin said in a statement. “I wish him and his family nothing but the best in the future.”

Donovan originally hooked up with Franklin when the two were at Maryland, then coordinated his offenses at Vanderbilt and later Penn State.

Despite playing with what many project to be a future first-round pick in quarterback Christian Hackenberg, Penn State ranked 101st nationally in scoring, 108th in total offense and 80th in yards per play.

Penn State dropped its final three games of the regular season and averaged only 14.6 points in its five losses.

Purdue retains head coach Darrell Hazell, fires both coordinators

Markell Jones
AP Photo

It’s never a good thing when a head coach has to fire both of his coordinators on the same day. Of course, it’s never a good thing to be 6-30, either.

Both are realities at Purdue, as the Boilers announced Sunday head coach Darrell Hazell will return for a fourth season in 2016, but offensive coordinator John Shoop, defensive coordinator Greg Hudson and defensive line coach Rubin Carter will not.

“I appreciate the efforts of each of those guys over the last three years,” Hazell said in a statement. “They are quality men who are well respected by their players and their peers, and I am disappointed that things didn’t work out better. But I believe that in order to turn around this program, we need to make some significant changes and move in a different direction at those positions.”

Purdue, 2-10 in 2015, ranked 115th nationally in yards per play and 112th in yards per play allowed.

Virginia Tech announces Justin Fuente as head coach; Bud Foster to stay on as DC

Associated Press

Justin Fuente is officially Virginia Tech’s new head coach. A day after reports linked the two parties, the Hokies made the match official by announcing the 39-year-old as their new head coach on Sunday afternoon.

“Justin is a very impressive individual who also happens to be one of the brightest offensive minds in college football,” Virginia Tech AD Whit Babcock said in a statement. “He elevated Memphis to unprecedented heights. His recruiting philosophy is progressive and comprehensive. Coach Fuente has displayed tremendous talent in evaluating players and developing young men as they strive to reach their full potential. Simply put, Coach Fuente exudes all the qualities that Hokies hold near and dear. We are excited to officially welcome Justin Fuente as the leader of the Virginia Tech football program.”

Fuente went 26-23 in four years as Memphis’s head coach, but his success runs far beyond a simple won-loss record. After going 7-17 in his first two seasons, Fuente guided the Tigers to a 19-6 mark in 2014-15, which included a 15-game winning streak, a No. 13 national ranking and a win over rival Ole Miss within that run.

Simply put, it was the absolute peak of modern Memphis football.

And now Fuente is tasked with taking Virginia Tech to new heights. The Hokies dominated the ACC throughout much of the 2000’s, taking conference crowns in 2004, 2007, 2008 and 2010. But as Florida State and Clemson have risen, Virginia Tech has fallen.

After posting 13 top-25 finishes in 14 seasons, the Hokies are set to conclude their fourth straight campaign outside the national rankings, going just 16-16 in ACC play over that span.

The offensive numbers state exactly why Fuente was hired, and what he must do in Blacksburg; Memphis ranks seventh nationally in scoring offense and eighth in passing efficiency, while Virginia Tech sits at 64th and 59th, respectively.

The cupboard is not bare, though. Virginia Tech is in the midst of a 23-year bowl streak, and Fuente has already secured one key commitment — longtime defensive coordinator Bud Foster has agreed to stay on staff.

“I’ve been privileged to work for a legendary coach who always did it the right way,” Foster said. “I enjoyed that chapter and the success we’ve had, however, I am equally excited for the next chapter and working for Justin. Justin and I share a vision for the future of our program. After spending time together, I’m convinced he’s the right person to continue building on the standard we’ve established at Virginia Tech. I’m truly looking forward to working with him and supporting him.”

Clearly, Babcock and the VT brass believe, a Fuente offense and a Foster defense are what the Hokies need to catch Clemson and Florida State.

Now it’s Fuente’s job to make that happen.