Without saying so, Reggie Bush confirmed that he received improper benefits during his time at USC. He returned his copy of the 2005 Heisman Trophy this week in hopes to alleviate the scrutiny he is getting due to his wrongdoings.
I say good for you Reggie. It isn’t as if the NCAA didn’t drop the hammer on the USC football program already, although I don’t think Bush could have prevented that. In addition, Bush still hasn’t admitted that he, and his family, received improper benefits that were in violation of NCAA rules.
However, he returned his award. The Heisman Trust is going to vacate the 2005 award so that the record books say “nobody” won the 2005 Heisman. I suppose it was a good-natured gesture on Bush’s part. It would have been a pretty ignorant move on his part if he tried to keep it after USC and the Heisman Trust washed their hands of him.
So, good for Bush in the sense that he accepted his punishment. But, I feel USC and the Heisman Trust are in the wrong here. My Heisman argument is lengthier so that will wait.
First, let’s go over what Runnin’ Reggie did. He accepted numerous gifts from a California agent during his tenure with USC. Now, he should have known the money, cars and housing he was getting from this guy were against NCAA rules. If you have even seen a trailer for Blue Chips you know that the NCAA isn’t down with illegal gifts. So, Reggie and his family took some cash and a house – they violated the rules, period.
USC and Pete Carroll had to know that this was going on. I’m sure Bush wasn’t the only guy getting hit up by agents. It seems this year the agent issues are really rising to the top as numerous programs are calling out the backdoor policies being practiced by these pro agents. Anyway, USC surely knew something. But, Bush just helped them win a National Title and was well on his way to leading them to another BCS Championship Game that year. Why would they suspend the best player in the nation?
Now, USC is pretending like Bush never played for them. They have taken down his likeness all around the football and athletic facilities. They returned his Heisman and are taking their punishment in kind. Don’t worry Trojan fans, this program will bounce back. Three years won’t demolish the recruiting base so much that they will be set back. They won’t be top-10 for a couple of seasons but they won’t turn into Duke.
However, USC should own the fact that Reggie Bush played for them. He was the most electric player in the nation while he played their. He didn’t burn down a building, he took some money and a car. Can you blame a “broke” college kid for taking a wad of cash that was handed to them? I would have gladly taken over $200,000 in gifts during my time at school. I put quotes around broke because I personally don’t know what his family situation was during his time at USC, nor do I know if he was getting any other help. I am not here to accuse. I am actually here to defend Reggie Bush.
The reason I say defend is because what he did off the field didn’t change how he played on the field. Please, tell me how a free car is going to make someone run faster or hit a hole harder? It doesn’t. Reggie Bush did not become a better football player because of the benefits he received. Now, I don’t agree with what he did. There is no getting around the rules he broke. But, it never changed the way he played on the field. In addition, it didn’t make the USC teams any better – Bush made them better but his gifts didn’t. The NCAA should not have taken away those wins or what the 2005 USC team did.
That brings me to the Heisman Trust. They have vacated the award from 2005 and I understand why. Bush accepted improper gifts and broke NCAA rules. So, he shouldn’t receive NCAA awards. So, I don’t think Bush should keep the award but I don’t understand why the Trust wants to keep the 2005 award vacated. It isn’t as if everyone is going to say, ‘Oh, Reggie Bush never won the 2005 Heisman’. Yeah right, no one is going to pay attention to that. Only the record books will believe that one – and since this isn’t a Disney movie I’m pretty sure those pieces of paper won’t mind either.
Vince Young was the runner-up in 2005. He was a distant second, but second none-the-less. However, after the 2005 National Title game I think you might find a few Heisman voters who would have changed their ballots around – especially after Bush’s ridiculous lateral that halted a USC drive and Young’s heroics late in the game. The Trust has said a second vote or awarding the trophy to Young will not happen because you could not recreate the 2005 voting situation. However, why would you? Clearly the voters had their say. Bush was deemed the best followed by Young. The award could simply fall to the runner-up in this case regardless of the disparity in voting.
Of course, Young affirms that Bush is the rightful winner, whether or not the powers that be agree. So, I suppose that is all the evidence you need for the debacle that has ensued from Bush’s wrongdoings.
Sure, Reggie Bush broke the rules. But he didn’t wear rocket shoes or put flubber on his jersey. His actions on the field should remain separate from what he did off the field and the Heisman Trust should probably have taken that into account.