I-A College Football
    === Dorm Report: Seminoles move forward in wake of Winston decision ===
 By Nicholas DeLorenzo, Associate College Football Editor
 Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - Following an investigation into
 allegations of sexual misconduct from a Dec. 7, 2012 incident, the highly-
 publicized case against Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston has been
 "We've carefully examined all the evidence in this case and have concluded
 that no charges will be brought against anyone in this case," Florida state
 attorney for the Second Judicial Circuit Willie Meggs said during Thursday's
 press conference. "We have a duty as prosecutors to determine if each case has
 a reasonable likelihood of conviction. After reviewing the facts in this case,
 we do not feel that we can reach those burdens."
 In what has been a bizarre case from the very start, considering the
 Tallahassee Police Department effectively shelved the investigation until
 reports resurfaced in mid-November, the state concluded that, despite finding
 DNA at the scene that matched Winston's, the accuser's inconsistent accounts
 of the event would not hold up in court.
 "Obviously it would have been somewhat better if we had all gotten into this
 case a little bit earlier," Meggs said. "Time is important and it certainly
 would have been nice (to have had) what we know now (last) December."
 Shortly after Meggs made his address, Winston was slated to make a statement,
 but instead it was his head coach Jimbo Fisher who took the podium on his
 "As you might imagine, I was pleased to hear that the State Attorney's Office
 exonerated Jameis in the matter," Fisher said. "I'm not going to answer any
 questions about the situation, but I would like to point out that our
 community and university are blessed to have really good people in place to
 review matters like this. I know Jameis is pleased he can focus on being a
 student at a great university and he's excited about helping our team achieve
 its goals this year. Right now, we're all looking forward to what we have in
 front of us on Saturday."
 It's been a tumultuous few weeks for everyone involved, and opinions will
 continue to swirl on both sides of the argument for some time, but the one
 thing we know for sure is that this is a closed case, and the end of this
 distraction has come as a sigh of relief for the Florida State football
 That's not to say that Thursday's outcome was a "win" for the Seminoles. Any
 time a football program is linked to such a high-profile, delicate and
 disturbing case, it's a black mark for the institution. Things like this
 should not be taken lightly -- which, unfortunately, Meggs and the press
 clearly did at times during the announcement with inappropriate joking and
 laughter, which undermined the accuser, and frankly, anybody who's ever been
 sexually abused. Because of Winston's public visibility, there will always be
 the thought that this case ultimately became more about football than it did
 about the law.
 But the facts remain that the Seminoles have a season to finish out, the fate
 of which was hanging in the balance leading up to the decision.
 The pendulum swing from this ruling was a great one. Had he been charged with
 a felony crime, Winston would have been suspended from the team effective
 immediately, but now Florida State will go on as planned for this Saturday's
 ACC championship game versus No. 20 Duke.
 Much to Florida State's credit, it has not wavered since news broke of these
 allegations a few weeks back, staying the course with its destructive path by
 racking up crushing defeats over Syracuse (59-3), Idaho (80-14) and Florida
 (37-7) in recent weeks to keep its undefeated season alive. In the process, it
 has risen to No. 1 in the BCS Standings following Alabama's loss to Auburn in
 the Iron Bowl, and after earning 58 of 60 first-place votes in the latest AP
 poll, a win over Duke on Saturday would all but assure its spot in the BCS
 National Championship game. With Winston's athletic eligibility unchanged
 after the verdict, the Seminoles, who are favored by more than four touchdowns
 for Saturday's matchup, shouldn't have much trouble with the Blue Devils.
 Although Meggs denied that the state's office revealed the investigation
 results so quickly to accommodate the football season, it was undoubtedly good
 timing for the program as well as for Winston himself considering voting for
 the Heisman Trophy closes on Dec. 9. The signal caller, who has already set
 ACC freshman records with 3,490 yards and 35 touchdowns this season, stepped
 up in the face of adversity by throwing nine touchdowns to just one
 interception over the last three weeks. Winston will, in all likelihood, be
 one of the Heisman finalists invited to New York for the Dec. 14 ceremony, and
 while his involvement with this case may cause him to lose a few votes, he's
 still expected to be the runaway winner, especially since the likes of Johnny
 Manziel, Marcus Mariota, and A.J. McCarron have taken major steps backwards in
 recent weeks.
 If the Seminoles can take care of business against the Blue Devils, they will
 likely take on either Ohio State or the winner of the SEC title game (Auburn
 vs. Missouri) in the BCS National Championship Game, where Winston can
 continue to separate himself from this incident.
 Clearly, in terms of his on-the-field production, the sky is the limit for
 Winston -- the projected Heisman winner, a potential national champion, and
 inarguably one of the top quarterback prospects when he's eligible to declare
 in 2015.
 Still, while he's been cleared in the eyes of the law, his mere involvement
 has raised suspicions and put his character in question, and it'll be up to
 him to keep his public persona a positive one from this point forward.
 12/06 11:01:22 ET

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