Heisman Front-Runner Under Investigation For Sexual Assault
ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
The University of Alabama football team is unbeaten, ranked No. 1, and attempting to win a third straight national championship under head coach Nick Saban. Here to talk about the Crimson Tide's roll, and other stories in college football, is sportswriter Stefan Fatsis. Hiya, Stefan.
STEFAN FATSIS, BYLINE: Hey, Robert.
SIEGEL: Three national championships in a row - that would be something.
FATSIS: Yeah, it hasn't happened in the computer-driven BCS championship era that began in 1998, and is mercifully ending this year. And before that, you've got to go back to 1934 to '36 and the University of Minnesota. Alabama gave up 42 points to Johnny Manziel and Texas A&M. In its other nine games, it's surrendered a total of 60 points. And with every win, Nick Saban's reputation as a humorless, efficient football grind gets more and more solid.
This week, he gave a little talking-to to a reporter who asked him whether he had seen the cover of the current Sports Illustrated, which features his starting quarterback, A.J. McCarron. Here's what he said.
NICK SABAN: I haven't seen a newspaper today. I don't know what's happening in the world. I watch the Weather Channel - all right? - for 10 minutes in the morning while I have a cup of coffee. So I know what the weather is going to be so - if we can practice inside or outside.
SIEGEL: Hey, he's an educator. Florida State, Ohio State and Baylor are the other remaining unbeaten major conference teams. And Baylor, Stefan, might be the most intriguing team of them all.
FATSIS: Yeah, they're putting up these crazy offensive numbers; 61 points and 685 yards per game, that's just nuts. And also nuts is that until a few years ago, Baylor was a perennial also-ran. That changed under coach Art Briles, who landed players like Robert Griffin III - now of the Washington professional team - and borrowed from and modified every fast-paced, destabilizing scheme of recent years to create a virtually unstoppable offense, both rushing and passing.
SIEGEL: Now, Florida State is No. 2, behind Alabama in the rankings, and Florida State features a Heisman Trophy candidate in quarterback Jameis Winston. But the story in Florida has shifted this week from that to sexual assault allegations against Winston. What's happening?
FATSIS: Yeah, college football hype, life cross paths again. The incident involving Winston, who's a red-shirt freshman, took place last December, but police in Tallahassee didn't refer it to the state attorney's office until last week. Why isn't clear. There are reports that the accuser, a Florida State student at the time, was discouraged from pursuing charges. Winston's lawyer said the encounter was consensual.
The state attorney is going to decide whether there's enough evidence to pursue charges. Meanwhile, Winston is expected to start tomorrow against Idaho. The sports coverage goes on.
SIEGEL: Let's move on now to a much smaller college football team, Gallaudet University here in Washington, D.C. Tell us about it. What's going on at Gallaudet?
FATSIS: Well, Gallaudet is for students who are deaf or hard of hearing. It's had a football team for 118 of its 149 years. Actually in 1890, its quarterback invented the huddle so that other teams couldn't steal Gallaudet's hand signals. But Gallaudet has just 1,100 students, and a football budget that wouldn't pay for Alabama's Gatorade.
This year, though, the Bison are 9 and 1. They've got an NFL prospect on their roster. They won their conference and tomorrow, they will play seventh-ranked Hobart in a Division III playoff game. If this isn't the best story in college football this year, I don't know what is.
SIEGEL: OK, Stefan, have a great weekend.
FATSIS: You too, Robert.
SIEGEL: Stefan Fatsis is the author of "A Few Seconds of Panic: A Sportswriter Plays in the NFL." He joins us most Fridays to talk about sports, and about the business of sports.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:
This is NPR News.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.