Sean Maguire is Florida State's backup quarterback. (Melina Vastola - USA Today Sports / November 25, 2013)
The Crimson Tide and Seminoles are 1-2 in the BCS standings for the fourth consecutive week, with No. 3 Ohio State well behind. So if Alabama defeats No. 4 Auburn on Saturday and wins the Southeastern Conference championship game a week later, and if FSU puts Florida out of its misery Saturday and then claims the ACC title, the BCS figures to be set.
But what happens if authorities investigating Seminoles quarterback Jameis Winston for sexual assault charge the Heisman Trophy candidate with a felony before pollsters and computers determine the final BCS standings Dec. 8?
With the exception of “extraordinary circumstances as determined by the administration,” school policy mandates suspension of athletes charged with a felony, and without Winston, the Seminoles clearly are a lesser team.
The Orlando Sentinel’s Brendan Sonnone explains the FSU disciplinary dynamics in this story.
But were Winston suspended, would voters in the Harris and coaches’ polls, two thirds of the BCS calculation, drop Florida State? As a Harris voter, I would, provided there were a credible alternative, such as an undefeated Ohio State or once-beaten Missouri or Auburn.
Timing would be paramount were Winston charged. If that happened next week, voters would see the Seminoles in the ACC championship game with backup Sean Maguire, like Winston a redshirt freshman. Maguire inherited the No. 2 job earlier this month when sophomore Jacob Coker had knee surgery.
Maguire went 9-of-14 for 84 yards, with a touchdown and interception, in Saturday’s 80-14 rout of Idaho. For the season, he’s 13-of-21 for 116 yards, with two scores and two picks.
Please understand that I am in no way comparing the damage caused by a sports injury to the pain and trauma of sexual assault, but in 2000, the NCAA basketball tournament selection committee dropped Cincinnati from a No. 1 to No. 2 seed after Bearcats All-American Kenyon Martin broke a leg during the conference tournament.
The reason: Cincinnati in postseason was not going to be the dominant team it was during the regular season. Similar logic might apply to Florida State without Winston, though one player’s absence can affect basketball more than it does football.
Here’s the top 25 I submitted to Harris on Sunday. The same 25 made the poll, so for what it’s worth, my ballot mirrored the consensus.
2. Florida State
3. Ohio State
7. Oklahoma State