ACC won't penalize Jameis Winston

ByBrett McMurphy ESPN logo
Monday, November 24, 2014

The contact between Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston and an official in Saturday's Boston College game was "incidental and insignificant" and did not warrant an unsportsmanlike penalty, the ACC's coordinator of officials said.

With the score tied at 17 and 5:20 left in the third quarter, an official stood between Winston and center Cam Erving to prevent the Seminoles (No. 3 CFP, No. 1 AP) from running their next play. An official is instructed to stand over the ball to prevent the offense from snapping it until the defense has sufficient time to match the offense's substitutions. The center judge was not standing over the football, however, and Erving was already set with his hand on the ball.

Winston tried moving the official with his hand and arm before the center judge retreated to his normal position on the field.

Doug Rhoads, the ACC's coordinator of officials, said in a statement Sunday: "The center judge's positioning, which was due to the experimental year of having an eighth official, combined with the late substitution and by rule the need to allow the defense to matchup, led to contact between himself and the player. The official believed the contact was incidental and insignificant and did not rise to the level of unsportsmanlike conduct and automatic disqualification."

FSU coach Jimbo Fisher and Winston said there was nothing malicious about the contact between the reigning Heisman Trophy winner and an official in the third quarter of the Seminoles' 20-17 win over Boston College on Saturday.

"He was just holding me because he said we had a substitution," Winston said of the official. "It was actually a fast-tempo play, so I was trying to get up under there and let it ride."

Fisher said the play call was for Winston to snap the ball quickly after the previous play, but the official ruled Florida State made a substitution at running back, the coach said he was told.

"I don't think [Winston] realized it. He was caught up in the excitement of the moment," Fisher said. "Hey, you get emotional. He didn't realize. He thought he could snap the ball. ... He knew that was his job -- get out there and set and snap the ball."

Fisher said he didn't talk to Winston about the contact, which he felt was innocuous and unintentional.

"He doesn't even remember [when he came to the sideline]," Fisher said. "When I yell at players, five minutes later, I don't remember who I yelled at. You move on to the next thing."

Dave Cutaia, ESPN's college officiating expert and the former Pac-10 coordinator of officiating, said FSU should have been penalized 15 yards and Winston should have been ejected for the contact.

Fisher, though, was pleased that the officials did not levy punishment.

"They did a good job on that from that standpoint," he said. "I think they understood what was going on. Those guys handled that part of the game. They managed the game itself, and that part, I thought, very good. They did a very nice job."

The ACC routinely evaluates every game and reports from their officials. The ACC said it considers the matter closed.

Information from's Jared Shanker contributed to this report.

Related Video