When Winston was caught shoplifting seafood at a store in Tallahassee, Florida, he was ordered to reimburse the store and perform community service. He also was suspended from the baseball team, and at the time, Fisher said he stood by baseball coach Mike Martin's decision. Speaking to reporters Monday at the annual ACC Kickoff, Fisher explained why he declined to pile on the punishment.
"Not after we found out the story and what had happened and [what Winston did] was not a malicious thing," he said. "It was not done with intent."
At the time of the incident, the Leon County Sheriff's Office said it would not speculate on whether Winston took the items -- $32 worth of crab legs and crawfish -- intentionally.
"People need to realize, when you suspend him in baseball, you understand how important baseball is to him? That cut his heart out," Fisher said Monday. "If it was done maliciously, we may have done other things. It was a silly mistake and not done with any malicious doing, and you don't punish a guy twice for the same crime."
Fisher was hoping for a quiet summer off the field as the Seminoles prepare for the defense of their national championship. Off-the-field problems within programs spike in the summer months, but the Seminoles had managed to stay out of the news since Winston's citation at the end of April -- only until July, however, when sophomore receiver Jesus "Bobo" Wilson was charged with a felony for stealing another student's scooter. Wilson is suspended from playing in games for Florida State until the matter is resolved, per university policy.
Florida State has dealt with criminal investigations and felony charges several times in the past year. Winston was not charged in a sexual assault investigation in December, but offensive lineman Ira Denson was charged as an accessory to a first-degree felony in March and dismissed from the team. Denson was involved in a December shooting that left Seminoles running back Mario Pender's half-brother with a bullet wound to the head. The shooting stemmed from Denson and a friend using Pender's stolen credit card. Denson also was charged with petty theft and fraudulent use of a credit card.
Fisher said he handles felonies differently from lesser incidents. The serious nature of felonies usually becomes public, but he generally prefers to assess punishment for smaller issues in private.
"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.
"What you need to do is accept it, learn from it and don't repeat it. Everything doesn't need to be known. Kids have to have room to grow as individuals. Everything is not out there. Do you whip your kids in public? Don't think anyone is more upset at them than we are, but also nobody cares more for them than we do. There's got to be some privacy for these kids to grow and develop as human beings."
Nick Saban, who had Fisher on his LSU staff, spoke about player discipline last week at SEC media days.
"I want you to know that there's not one player -- not one player -- since I've been a head coach that I kicked off the team that ever went anywhere and amounted to anything and accomplished anything, playing or academically, all right?" he said.
"That's what you all think: What are you going to do to the guy? How many games is he getting suspended? Are you going to kick him off the team? Are there consequences? Yeah, we don't have to depend on the guy. They might get suspended for some games, because that's the one thing that will change their behavior -- because they all want to play. I get that part, and we do that. But I don't usually announce that."