Heisman Trophy ballots are out to voters with a Dec. 9 due date. The deadline is just days away, and the front-runner, Jameis Winston, is still sitting with an open sexual assault case. The award is set to be handed out on Dec. 14 and some would not mind seeing the Heisman Trust delay the ballot turn-in, with the hopes of the Winston case being resolved.
It sounds good in theory, but the show must go on. It is not about being callous or ignoring the situation; rather, it is about keeping the timeline and not opening Pandora's box in an effort to insulate against a "maybe" situation.
The idea of postponing ballots is a great dream. Give the investigation a couple of days past the original Dec. 9 due date, allow things to be resolved one way or the other and hand out the award to Winston with a cleared record. Or, if Winston is charged, give it to one of the other players voters decided to select.
However, as Mike McGovern at the Reading Eagle points out, there is no set timeline on the Winston situation. In fact, just as McGovern and others have pointed out, this investigation is a tangled web of mishandled information, he said-she said arguments and the hope that more evidence comes out for either side. Nothing indicates that this will be resolved quickly, or cleanly, for either party.
Now is not the time for the Heisman Trust to open the door based upon a whim, in an effort to save itself. Every college football fan understands the situation, the media understands the situation and the Trust does not have to insulate. The collegiate landscape understands the dilemma and regardless of the outcome, the Heisman Trophy will remain a prestigious award in the eyes of those for whom it holds value.
The Trust forced one Heisman winner to forfeit his title—2005 winner Reggie Bush. A look at the Heisman website shows no winner for the 2005 season—not a re-vote or a re-gifting of the award to the runner-up. Even with that "black eye", the trophy remains at the top of many people's minds when it comes to coveted college football awards.
Unlike Bush, Winston is facing a real-life problem, not simply a college football issue. The Florida State quarterback faces the possibility of a real charge with a real trial and, if convicted, real jail time. It's a situation far more serious than the fake charge, fake trial and fake sentence that the NCAA handed down to Bush.
This is a legal issue, and historically, the Trust has stayed out of the legal pond. As long as Winston remains eligible, he should be on the ballot, and those votes should be turned in on schedule. Don't delay the process because of what might happen, especially since the situation does not show any signs of being resolved quickly, or neatly.