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Miami Hurricanes

Defense rests in Kellen Winslow sexual assault trial

Florida Football Insiders

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Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
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The defense has rested Monday afternoon in the sexual assault trial of former Miami Hurricanes All-American and NFL star Kellen Winslow II in San Diego, CA.

Lawyers for the 35 year old son of the Hall of Famer with the same name, called only five witnesses on his behalf Monday and most importantly, Winslow did not take the stand to rebut the allegations made by numerous accusers:

Prosecutors have charged Winslow with 12 criminal counts in a combined trial that has five alleged victims. Three of the accusers say that Winslow raped them, including one who says that she was 17 years old at the time in 2003. Winslow was also charged with other crimes including indecent exposure and lewd conduct involving two other women.

All three of the alleged sexual assault victims, including two homeless women in their 50s, faced Winslow in court and testified to his alleged actions. Observers said that the most compelling of the accusers was the now, 33 year old woman, “Jane Doe #3”, who was a 17 year old teenager in 2003.

She admitted that she had had consensual sex earlier that summer with Winslow, who at the time was a 19 year year old junior at the University of Miami, and was back home for the summer in San Diego. However, that Jane Doe says that Winslow forcibly raped her weeks later at a friend’s home with others in the house at the time.

The prosecution rested its case on Thursday afternoon and court was not in session on Friday. It had been expected that Winslow’s team of lawyers would put on a somewhat more lengthy defense, than what they eventually chose to do on Monday. The prosecution had no rebuttal witnesses Monday.

Winslow played for the Hurricanes from 2001 through 2003. He earned All-American honors and the John Mackey Award for the nation’s top tight end in his final season. He was the sixth overall pick of the Browns in the 2004 draft, where he reunited with the coach that recruited him and coached him originally at Miami, Butch Davis.

After his rookie season Winslow suffered a horrific knee and leg injuries in a motorcycle accident in a Cleveland suburb mall parking lot. He was unable to play in the 2005 season, because of the injuries.

Winslow played three more seasons for the Browns before being traded in the 2009 offseason to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. In exchange for a second and fifth round picks, the Bucs acquired Winslow and gave him, at that time, the largest contract for a tight end in NFL history with $36 million over six seasons.

In his first season in Tampa Bay he set the Bucs single season tight end receiving record with 77 catches and 884 yards. He led the team in receptions again in 2010, as the Bucs finished 10-6 and missed the playoffs on a tiebreaker. In his final Buccaneers season of 2011 Winslow finished with 75 receptions in a dismal 4-12 year.

Winslow was traded in the offseason of 2012 to the Seattle Seahawks, but they released him months later, when he refused to reduce his salary.

He bounced after that to the New England Patriots and the New York Jets with his final season being 2013. With the Jets, he only started three games, and was also suspended for four games by the NFL for violating the League’s substance-abuse policy.

Back to Monday. Judge Blaine Bowman told the jury that there would be closing arguments Tuesday morning, and then they would receive the case, thereafter.

Winslow is facing life in prison on the number of charges against him.

Miami Hurricanes

Stunning loss to FIU shows Miami still isn’t back

Matt Zemek

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Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
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On a recent Florida Football Insiders podcast, after Miami beat Louisville 52-27, I asked FFI columnist Jamil King if the Hurricanes had clearly turned the corner. It was not only easy, but logical, to be optimistic.

After all, Miami had truly cleaned up its act since the late-game escape in Pittsburgh The Canes then crushed Florida State on the road in the kind of physical, focused performance a good team delivers against a rival. Miami then scored over “half a hundred” against a Louisville team, which had defeated Wake Forest and Virginia this year.

Miami offered three straight convincing performances – somewhat shaky against Pitt, but good enough to win on the road against a decent opponent. Then, Miami maxed out on defense against Florida State and maxed out on offense against Louisville.

The Georgia Tech loss was a distant memory. The pronounced struggles of the offense in the first half of the season felt very remote. This was a different Miami team over the past three weeks.

Just to be sure, the Canes had a week off to rest, refocus, and recharge for the final two games of the season, one against Duke and one this weekend against Florida International.

Yes, Florida International viewed this game as its “Super Bowl” and was always going to be jacked up for a date with Miami. Former UM head coach Butch Davis, who led Miami to a No. 2 national ranking in the 2000 college football season before moving to the pros with the Cleveland Browns, badly wanted this win.

Okay. Sure. Fine.

Butch Davis really wanted this game. I wanted a million dollars and my own national TV show. You probably wanted five million dollars and an oceanfront condo.

Badly wanting something doesn’t mean you’ll get it. In no reasonable universe should Florida International beat Miami. Come close, MAYBE, but certainly not beat the Canes.

GULP!

FIU didn’t merely beat Miami 30-24. FIU beat UP the Canes.

The Panthers were clearly better, clearly faster, clearly stronger, clearly better-coached.

Miami committed two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties on the same play.

Miami burned all its timeouts with 4:51 left in the game. The Canes threw a bunch of passes short of the sticks and in bounds on their last drives.

Miami couldn’t stop FIU when the Panthers recovered a late onside kick with just over three minutes left, and needed one first down to seal the win.

Miami’s offensive line couldn’t protect Jarren Williams.

As for Williams, he couldn’t protect the ball. Forget about making great plays; Williams couldn’t at least avoid huge mistakes. He had only thrown three interceptions all season coming into Saturday night. At the Miami Marlins baseball park Saturday night, he threw three of them, including two in the second half to dig the hole, further.

Miami wasn’t prepared at the start of the game. And, Manny Diaz’s staff didn’t make halftime adjustments. Miami kicked a field goal on fourth and two from the FIU 6 late in the third quarter, when trailing by 16 points.

What a disaster.

We at least have clarity on the question, “Has Miami turned the corner?” Nope. Not at all. No way.

At least this makes everyone sure of where the program stands entering next season. That, at least, is helpful, even if nothing about this game helped the Hurricanes.

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Miami Hurricanes

Canes return to familiar location for “home game” Saturday

Florida Football Insiders

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Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
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As the Miami Hurricanes get set to battle Crosstown rival FIU on Saturday, there will do so at the location that used to be their home for seven decades. And don’t think for a second that this year’s version of the Canes are not fully aware of the significance of playing where the legendary Orange Bowl Stadium, used to stand.

The two schools will be battling at what is now the Florida Marlins Baseball park which was constructed a decade ago on the grounds that used to host Orange Bowl Stadium. Marlins park has already previously hosted bowl games in December in previous years, and that’s the place where Miami dominated college football for the better part of a 10-year run in the mid-1980s through the early 1990s.

Hurricanesports.com had a fantastic retrospective item on former immortalized Cane coaches and legendary players of the past reminiscing about their favorite memories of having played in the Orange Bowl.

Without question, the foundation of Miami’s success was the intimidation of playing in that hallowed venue, where they once won 58 games in a row. Of course, it always seemed to help that the Hurricanes would be picked to play in the Orange Bowl New Year’s Day game itself, which was essentially a home game against the then, Big Eight conference champion for so many years.

One of those coaches, Jimmy Johnson, told the site about his favorite Canes memory,

“The most obvious favorite memory of the Orange Bowl was going undefeated and winning the national championship against Oklahoma (1988). It was so rewarding because we were disappointed from the 11-1 record the year before. One was one of my favorite memories, the other was my biggest disappointment.” 

The man who led Miami’s monumental National Championship win over Nebraska in the 1984 New Year’s Day Orange Bowl, Bernie Kosar, said of that game/that stadium,

“For me, our program-defining game was against Nebraska in the Orange Bowl for the 1983 National Championship. During that game, coach Howard Schnellenberger trusted me, a freshman, to throw it aggressively downfield from the first play.

“The confidence and belief that all our coaches and players had in me meant I had an enormous responsibility and I wasn’t going to disappoint. I don’t want to sound dramatic, but failure was not an option.” 

The five national titles, the 19 All-Americans and two Heisman winners (Vinny Testaverde and Gino Torretta) who were part of Miami football in the Orange Bowl obviously made it even more special to put on the Orange and White there.

And, first-year coach Manny Diaz has perspective on what it means to be back at that location, if not in the same stadium, as well. He told WQAM Radio in Miami this week,

“I think it’s going to be special for us. I think it’s going to be special for all football fans in South Florida. Just setting the GPS on the car and turning down there, parking in somebody’s front yard and walking into Marlins Park and just seeing a football game.

“It’s obviously a little disorienting. The field goes north-south instead of east-west like it used to back in the OB, but it will be great to be back in Little Havana. It should be a great atmosphere in there.”

Of course on the other sideline with the FIU Panthers is former Hurricanes coach, Butch Davis, who was the architect of the turn-around in the early 2000s for Miami becoming a National Championship program, again.

Davis had previously been an assistant with Jimmy Johnson for the further rise of Miami football post-Howard Schnellenberger in the mid-1980s.

So while the players on the field Saturday for both schools weren’t born when there Hurricanes truly became “The U,” it’s still a neat bit of a nostalgia that they will be playing at a place that used to mean so much to the fabric of college football in South Florida.

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