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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher said quarterback Jameis Winston's nebulous legal status should not factor into voters' evaluation of the Seminoles, who are atop the BCS standings for the first time in 14 years.
While the debate about which teams should travel to Pasadena for the BCS National Championship reached a fever pitch in the wake of Auburn's stunning upset of Alabama this past weekend, the Seminoles' perch at No. 1 may be precarious because of Winston's ongoing legal situation.
"We've went undefeated," Fisher said. "It's up [to] them what they do, but I don't think that should be in consideration."
The investigation into Winston's role in an alleged sexual assault is in its third week, and a decision on whether the redshirt freshman will be charged with a crime might not come before the final BCS standings are released after the regular season, state attorney Willie Meggs said last week.
FSU rules state that any student-athlete charged with a felony is immediately ineligible for competition (except in "extraordinary" circumstances), meaning voters may need to cast their ballots without knowing whether Winston would be available for the BCS title game.
Florida State (12-0) is a four-touchdown favorite in Saturday's ACC championship game against Duke (10-2). Fisher said if the Seminoles finish undefeated, they deserve a chance to play for the national title -- regardless of Winston's status.
|Jameis Winston has passed for 3,490 yards and 35 touchdowns this season, making him a front-runner for the Heisman Trophy.|
"It's a team sport," Fisher said. "We're not a one-man team."
However, Fisher wouldn't say voters should reward any undefeated team with a spot in the BCS title game.
Both Florida State and Ohio State are 12-0, but No. 3 Auburn or No. 5 Missouri -- each with one loss -- could end the season with a more impressive slate of wins. Measuring an undefeated team with a weaker schedule against a one-loss team with a cache of impressive victories is up to each voter, Fisher said.
"If I was undefeated, it would upset me very much if someone jumped me," he said. "But at the same time, if I felt our one-loss team was better -- I understand both sides of that. But that's not for me to decide."
Fisher will have a chance to decide on his ballot in the USA Today coaches' poll, which makes up one-third of the BCS formula. He stopped short of saying he wouldn't put a one-loss team ahead of an undefeated team on his final ballot.
"It has nothing to do with one loss," Fisher said. "I rate who I think is the best team, who I think is No. 2, No. 3 and No. 4. Who they played on the field and how they did it -- that's how I rank them. That's my criteria."
How much Winston's legal status will factor into the criteria of other voters is the question, and the same is true of his place in the Heisman Trophy race. Voters must submit their final ballots for that award by 5 p.m. ET on Dec. 9.
"I think Jameis is one of the most outstanding players in the country," Fisher said. "Other people have outstanding players, and that's not for me to judge. But I'll say this: I'm glad he's on my team."