Allegations of sexual assault. A suspension from baseball for stealing crab legs from a grocery store. A suspension from football for yelling an obscene, demeaning phrase in the middle of the Florida State student union. Allegations of violating NCAA rules by selling autographs.
All of those storylines have brought down an avalanche of well-deserved negative publicity on Jameis Winston.
But the latest storyline — that Winston may have been shaving points during Florida State’s 42-31 win at Louisville October 30 — should be met with a heaping dose of skepticism given the source: A gambling website run by a guy who calls himself Incarcerated Bob and who, according to veteran sports journalist David Purdum, has repeatedly posted bogus stories in the past aimed at gaining him publicity and allowing him to sucker gamblers into paying him for picks. (Purdum wrote about Incarcerated Bob on his own website last year, but now covers gambling for ESPN.)
The latest dose of nonsense came in the form of a post on Incarcerated Bob’s website says that Chris Rabb, a former high school teammate and close friend of Winston who’s now a defensive end at the University of Alabama-Birmingham, wagered $5,500 against Florida State on the first half line against Louisville, meaning he would win his wager if the Cardinals were either winning, tied or down by a point.
If Rabb really had placed such a bet, Winston’s performance in the first half would have sounded alarms.
Florida State played an awful first half and trailed 21-7 at the break before dominating in the second half, meaning that anyone who would have bet on Louisville in the first half would have won his or her bet with room to spare. The insinuation in the report is that Winston conspired with Rabb to play so poorly in the first half that the Seminoles would fail to cover the first-half line, thereby allowing Rabb to win his bet.
The problem with the story is that unless Rabb really did place such a bet, there’s no reason to read anything into Winston’s performance. And given Incarcerated Bob’s history, there’s little reason to believe the story about Rabb.
Incarcerated Bob’s site has developed a big following over the past several years, and some of the stuff reported on his site has come to fruition. (For instance, he posted before most other outlets that LeBron James would be going back to Cleveland. But that’s an educated guess that a host of other reporters and bloggers were making for months leading up to James’ decision.)
But a lot of what he’s posted in the past — including a claim that former Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd was in $80,000 of gambling debt and one that Floyd Mayweather bet almost $6 million on the Miami Heat in Game 7 of the 2013 Eastern Conference Finals — have turned out to be completely false.
Here’s how The Big Lead’s Jason McIntyre summed up the Boyd situation after reporters had asked Boyd about Incarcerated Bob’s report:
Enter a fraud named “Incarcerated Bob.” You’ve never heard of him because he’s a joke who has already been exposed as a complete fraud (you must read this). Every six months, when someone mentions him to me on twitter, I block that person for being stupid. “Incarcerated Bob” attempted to buy credibility by purchasing twitter followers, and when that failed, he started throwing more rumors at the internet, and because gullible people will believe anything, flat-out lies became “well I read it on the internet.”
Here’s what we know actually happened the night of the Louisville game:
— Winston played a lousy first half that included two interceptions, and Florida State fell into a 21-0 hole and trailed by 14 at the half, coming nowhere near covering the first-half line.
— Winston played a much better second half and led FSU to a come-from-behind victory to preserve its undefeated season as well as Winston’s undefeated record as a starting QB, the team’s No. 2 ranking and its place in the College Football Playoff picture.
But it’s worth noting that this wasn’t the first time this season that FSU played like garbage in the first half against an inferior opponent before coming back to win.
That’s exactly what happened on September 27 against NC State, when the Seminoles trailed by 17 at the half before rallying to win 56-41. There’s no sign of unusual gambling activity around that game, or around the Notre Dame game, when FSU trailed by a touchdown at the half but eventually came up with a last-second goal-line stand to win 31-27.
It’s also worth noting that, as Bud Elliott writes over at SB Nation’s Tomahawk Nation site, a whole lot of what happened in the first half — from a freshman receiver quitting his route on one of Winston’s interceptions to below-average pass protection by the FSU offensive line — wasn’t Winston’s fault.
In fact, Elliot notes, there were several occasions on which Winston went out of his way to give the Noles a better chance to succeed when he could have easily let something bad happen without anyone noticing if he were shaving points.
Despite all of that, the rumor mill revved up on Friday morning, when TMZ posted an item, attributing to a “report” but not clarifying that the report came from Incarcerated Bob.
That provoked a lot of reaction on Twitter, most of it from people either criticizing Incarcerated Bob, criticizing TMZ for “running with it” or some combination of both.
Here’s some of the reaction:
TMZ then reported on Friday afternoon that UAB was investigating the claims involving Rabb to find out if he’d done anything wrong.
From the report:
One email, sent by a UAB official to someone involved in the story, includes a line which reads, “These allegations may affect Chris’ eligibility so it is very important that we speak as soon as possible.”
The allegation in question … Jameis tanked the 1st half of the FSU vs. Louisville game to help Rabb win a $5,000 bet.
Of course, point-shaving is illegal … but it seems UAB is also interested to see if Rabb was gambling on college sports at all — a huge no-no for active college athletes.
We contacted UAB for comment several times — but the school refused to comment.
UAB later confirmed in a statement that the school is “aware of the allegation and looking into the matter,” according to AL.com.
But the investigation appears to have been triggered by a turn of events that started with a scam by a guy who’s been exposed in the past as a fraud.