Florida State's Winston motivated to repeat success


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GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Jameis Winston didn't waste much time making his presence known Sunday.

When the Florida State quarterback and reigning Heisman Trophy winner arrived for his media session at the first day of ACC Football Kickoff, he started with a question for the 50-plus media members assembled around his table:

"Before I say anything, how does it feel to see an ACC team come in here with a national title? Can we get a round of applause?"

That bravado has become a sort of signature for Winston, and over the next hour he fielded questions on everything from his baseball career to his offseason shoplifting citation.

On the latter topic, in which Winston was cited for taking crab legs from a local grocery store, he said he has learned from the experience.

"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," he said. "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."

Winston, who made his college football debut in Florida State's 41-13 win against Pitt in September at Heinz Field, said he didn't mind the spotlight because it only came as a result of his on-field success.

He also said that, despite all the plaudits, he has just as much motivation heading into 2014.

"It's really easy because we always play with a chip on our shoulder and we have high expectations," he said. "We know if we become complacent or we become off in any way that we will lose."

Possible NCAA changes

ACC commissioner John Swofford opened Sunday's events with his annual forum, and said that he expects the proposed NCAA governance change -- which would grant more autonomy to the "power five" conferences -- to pass into effect in August.

"The good ship 'status quo' has sailed," Swofford said. "It's time for some changes and some significant changes, and it's going to present some challenges, but it's time for that, and those are the right kinds of things to do and to address."

If and when the new structure does go into effect, Swofford said he expects the first item on the docket to be addressing the value of a scholarship and, potentially, adding to create a full cost-of-attendance model.

Swofford was also optimistic the ACC and Big 12's joint proposal to the NCAA that would eliminate the requirements for conference championship games will pass.

Current legislation mandates that a conference must have 12 teams and two divisions to hold a championship game, but the league is pushing for the option to possibly scrap divisions entirely, which would create much more scheduling flexibility.

Swofford cautioned, though, that if the NCAA rule change passes, that doesn't mean the ACC will definitely change its set-up.

"We just feel like its appropriate for the conferences to make that determination rather than the NCAA," Swofford said. "We may or may not make some changes. We could eliminate divisions, we could change divisions, but we may not do either."

Duke optimistic

The Duke players who spoke Sunday were in the unusual position, for Duke, of being defending division champions.

Facing another wide-open Coastal division this year, Blue Devils linebacker Kelby Brown was optimistic his team could repeat its surprise performance from 2013.

"There definitely is a winner's effect," he said. "What happened to Duke football, man, those guys were excited with one win in a season. Now we've shown, not to other people, we've shown ourselves that we can do this. That just kind of changes the way that we approach the season."

Sam Werner: swerner@post-gazette.com and Twitter @SWernerPG


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