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What if Jameis Winston had picked Stanford instead of Florida State?

We dive into the alternate reality and picture Winston's career in Cardinal and White

Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

After Jameis Winston, the top dual-threat quarterback in the recruiting class of 2012, chose to attend Florida State, the Hueytown, Alabama native became somewhat of a college football folk legend (and lightning rod). During his two years in Tallahassee, Winston was a resilient, mobile Heisman Trophy- and national championship-winning quarterback and was widely tainted by multiple off-field incidents.

I was unaware that Winston was heavily recruited by David Shaw, and was actually accepted to Stanford and offered a scholarship to play QB for the Cardinal.

That is, until last week, when the current Tampa Bay Buccaneers' second-year signal caller told Bay Area media that he was very close to becoming a member of the Cardinal. While the last four years have obviously played out differently, I (perhaps like many of you) have been asking myself: What if Jameis did pick Stanford?

If Jameis commits to Stanford in 2012...

  • The identity of "Stanford football" changes from the power run scheme of Student Body Left/Right to a more up-tempo zone read style of offense. This may come into play a few years later, in terms of recruiting and playcalling (aka less offensive lineman and more dynamic playmakers at RB and WR).
  • Winston is kept in check by David Shaw, the man who recruited him to Stanford.
  • Kevin Hogan doesn't see the field until at least his junior year. Jameis' talent is too big to pass up on right away, and the top quarterback recruit in the country would be named the Cardinal's starter before the season. Jameis succeeds Andrew Luck as the starter, and, of course, that means Hogan would be buried on the depth chart.
  • I can't see three Rose Bowl appearances and two wins being realistic anymore. However, one win and two appearances could be likely if Winston masters the offense in his three years, before becoming a mid-to-late round pick of Chip Kelly's Philadelphia Eagles, because in this alternate reality, Chip hasn't shot his coaching career in the foot with his brash decision-making just yet.

The fallout for Florida State looks like this...

  • Florida State chooses Jacob Coker to be their quarterback in 2013. Yes, there would be a perceived drop-off in talent level, but that guarantees a non-Alabama championship win in 2016. Take that, Nick Saban!
  • The BCS era ends with the Auburn Tigers cashing in on their streak of luck by defeating Florida State in Pasadena. Coker plays the game-manager role, letting his playmakers do the work. Meanwhile, the FSU defense (which produced seven of FSU's 11 NFL draftees in that year's draft) still carries the ‘Noles to the title game, but they can't quite finish the job.
  • Jimbo Fisher doesn't get his extension and finds himself coaching Vanderbilt to three consecutive 6-6 seasons before becoming the offensive coordinator at LSU.
  • The ‘Noles never flip heralded running back recruit Dalvin Cook from his initial commitment to Florida. Cook reaffirms his commitment to the Gators and wins the 2014 Heisman Trophy after a season in which he still manages to gain a ton of yards behind an offensive line that cannot block. Oh yeah, did I mention AJ McCarron wins the trophy in 2013? (Sorry, Jameis).

There's no telling how much chaos the rest of the college football world would fall into if this path played out; but Pac-12 titles and Rose Bowl appearances in three of the last four years are good enough for me.