I distinctly remember the first pang of impotent rage I had as a sports fan pretty clearly. Already angry at Ohio State losing to Florida State in the 1998 Sugar Bowl, I watched helplessly as Bobby Bowden continued to Good Ol' Boy grin away every one of Sebastian Janikowski's many run-ins with the law. It wasn't fair! It didn't matter than Janikowski was/is a freaking kicker, or that what happened at Florida State had exactly zero bearing on what happened at Ohio State, I just wanted justice. Petty, insignificant, 12 year old Johnny Ginter stomping around his parent's living room-style justice. For once.
And now another Florida State head coach is doing it again. This time it's Jimbo Fisher, handwaving away literal theft because the player has a great arm. Well no more! This is a society of law, and we need rules. Stupid, facile, impotent rules, but rules nonetheless. Maybe the flowchart below won't dispense the kind of law and order that pre-teen me craved, but at least we'll be able to make sense out of everything.
One of the most accurate and also useless phrases in the English language is "life isn't fair." The person who points out the complaint isn't going to be relieved to know that things suck, he already knows that things suck! That person wants the things that suck to not suck anymore! That's the whole point!
So yes, Jameis Winston gets treated differently than other football players, but the solution isn't to throw your hands up in the air and tell everyone that life, yet again, has become unfair. The solution is to point out how stupid it is that he gets any special treatment at all, no matter who he is, and how that needs to change.
Last November 30th, Marcus Hall double birded his way out of Michigan Stadium and into our hearts. A week later, he was effectively suspended for the entirety of the B1G Championship game because of those actions. Other incidents at Ohio State have been and will continue to be handled behind closed doors when possible, but Urban Meyer has made it clear with how he handled the incidents of Carlos Hyde, Bradley Roby, and Noah Spence; tarnish the program in public, and face the consequences.
Five months later, Jameis Winston stole a bunch of crab legs and faced zero punishment from his football coach, who said:
"Let me ask this: When your kids get in trouble at home, do you tell the neighborhood what you did to them?" he said. "Kids are going to make mistakes. Nobody's perfect. Our whole thing at Florida State is teaching kids to make decisions."
The truth is that players are going to do dumb crap on a regular basis no matter what. Jimbo Fisher slapping Jameis Winston on the wrist for a couple of games that don't matter won't stop the next Seminole from staring hungrily at the front window of a Piggly Wiggly. But it's dishonest as hell to hide behind a veneer of trust and love when the only real consideration about his punishment had to do with how well the dude can sling a football.
Be the hero to old people and suspend Winston for being a turd, or be the rebel for the young people and let him go for being awesome at sports, but either way be consistent. At the very least, you owe that to a long-forgotten weird gangly kid with a bowl cut in southwest Ohio circa mid-1990s.