From the sexual-assault charges to stealing crab legs, Jameis Winston is by no means the Golden Boy of PR. Paul Finebaum, however, thinks it’s much worse than that.
The long-time radio host – who now works for ESPN and has authored a new book, My Conference Can Beat Your Conference: Why the SEC Still Rules College Football – recently called Winston a “train-wreck,” one that could derail Florida State’s upcoming season.
“I may be a little jaded in the fact that I’ve lived in Alabama for a long time – I don’t anymore – and he’s from that area,” Finebaum said of Winston, a Hueytown native, on The Damon Amendolara Show. “And you do talk to people. You talk to people that went to high school with him, who coached him, and you pick up some of that. And then you watch the bouncing ball – or in this case, the oblong, the pigskin. I just don’t really care for him. The things that I don’t like oftentimes are what makes him good – and that’s his brash nature. He took control of that Florida State team even as a freshman, just like he did in high school, just like he’s always done. But I think he wears it badly.”
“I was embarrassed for him listening to his Heisman speech,” Feinbaum continued. “Even compared to Manziel the year before – (who’s) not exactly the poster child for what’s right in America – Manziel gave an eloquent speech. Winston’s speech was hard to listen to. I wanted to say, ‘Someone grab this guy and teach him that when you’re in public, don’t be so brash. Don’t be so in-your-face. This is the Heisman Trust we’re talking about.’”
Winston didn’t do himself any favors during Florida State’s Media Day, either, when he trash-talked the SEC and said that Alabama and Auburn are his true rivalry games.
“Listen, that doesn’t bother me,” Finebaum said. “I don’t care. But be careful. You already have a couple of charges against you. You weren’t charged; be fortunate that you weren’t. You keep making mistakes. You’re still walking around and being enabled by Jimbo Fisher and everyone else.”
Winston even got into a tussle with teammate Jalen Ramsey, who was kicked out of practice Sunday after laying a hard hit on the Heisman winner. Fisher then called out Ramsey in the media for his lack of character and leadership.
“Again, that’s why I think it’s going to be a train-wreck,” Finebaum cautioned. “I’ve seen this before. I’ve covered college athletics for 30 years, and when this many things go wrong, it usually has a trickle-down effect on the team, particularly when you’re No. 1 in the country and the defending national champion.”
While some media love Winston because he’s so charismatic and quotable, Finebaum would like to see him – not to mention Fisher and FSU in general – held to a higher standard.
“As someone who wrote for a living for a long time and now is working for ESPN, I don’t want to turn this into (a media issue),” Finebaum said. “But for the most part, people that cover college sports – I say for the most part – are not very aggressive. They’re intimidated. I’m not talking about people at ESPN or CBS or FOX. I’m talking about local reporters who don’t have much access, who don’t have much influence, and they tend to just go along to get along.”
“I’ve been there before,” Funebaum continued. “It’s tough covering a beat, particularly in a small town like Tallahassee, Florida, that is run by the FSU athletic department and by the university. But I’m somewhat embarrassed that the questions are so lame and the response is even worse when we talk about people like Jameis Winston.”