One of the greatest things about writing about the Seminoles is the debate that usually ensues when it comes to FSU and comparisons of the 1993 Championship team and the 2013 Championship team. I throw out the 1999 from this discussion – although the program’s dominance that season (coupled with birth of my son Bennett) was one of those football seasons you remember like it was yesterday.
It has been a debate since Jameis Winston threw his first pass against Pittsburgh last season which Heisman Trophy winning quarterback is the best in the program’s history. I have sentimental issues with this as I was a junior in 1993 and was at the national title game in the Orange Bowl. Many of the players were in class with me like Derrick Brooks, Ward, and Clay Shiver.
But when I look at the 2013 team – which was a more athletic version of the one 20 years ago, it is hard to argue that both teams were pretty much equal with the exception of kicker. Roberto Aguayo beats Scott Bentley, easily.
So, in talking about which quarterback is better, I asked my good friend Kim straight up who is better. Kim (who for the purpose of the article has no name, but is heavily involved in education) is a graduate of “God’s Country” and is someone who I have known since we were in junior high, so you know she could share plenty of dirt on me. I asked the simple question, but her answer was anything but “lite.”
“There is no disputing the numbers...most of them are pretty close between the two. The Charlie Ward era had a lot going for it...stars in many positions, not just QB.”
I love it when someone can make my argument without me having to open my trap.
“His pass rate was higher than Winston's by a few percentage points, but he was just a star on and off the field. Those years playing basketball were pretty fun, too.”
When it comes to the present, Kim makes some pretty strong points as well.
“Winston seems to be the full package if he can maintain the consistency and follow-thru (in his passes). He is just exciting to watch. I can't make a decision one way or another. Feel like that would be bad juju.”
Based on professional opinion (which personally, I do not think it has anything on Kim’s comments), there is a great debate that can only be explained as “mostly even” with the press.
“Winston's statistics are nothing short of sensational, as he led the nation in passer efficiency rating (190.1) and set FBS freshman records with 3,820 yards passing and 38 touchdown passes, not to mention he has guided the 'Noles to a 13-0 mark and a spot Jan. 6 in the BCS National Championship,” said John Crist of Bleacher Report.
Just for some worthless knowledge to impress the ladies – should you be on campus in Tallahassee - FSU is now the 10th school to boast at least a trio of Heisman awards, joining Army, Auburn, Florida, Michigan, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma and USC. Winston became the second freshman—second in a row, as a matter of fact—to earn the bronze after Texas A&M QB Johnny Manziel, who broke through in 2012 but could do no better than a fifth-place finish in 2013.
Ward completed 264 of 380 passes (69.5 percent) for 3,032 yards with 27 touchdowns and four interceptions in 1993, plus he added 65 carries for 339 yards and four more TDs on the ground. While his efficiency rating of 157.8 would only rank 15th in the nation by 2013's standards, it wasn't as easy to throw the ball then and FSU's "Fast Break" offense—the name came from him also being the point guard on the basketball team—was considered revolutionary at the time.
Ward's microscopic interception percentage of 1.1 proves that he took better care of the football in flight than Winston (2.6).
Ward, was also older and more mature and when you look at the school being in the middle of controversy in both Championship runs, was the string silent type. I can vouch for that personally. Ward could sit in a room with you for three hours and never say a word.
What it truly boils down to when deciding which player is simple – the jury is still out.
Both had signature moments that fans talk about like they were heroic measures. But in the end, it is just like Kim said to me earlier this weekend.
“Let me answer that after this season!”
If the Seminoles can run the table and final another national title, I figure I won’t need to ask Kim, or anyone else what the answer is. Actions will speak louder than words.