Should Reggie Bush Have Apologized to USC?

Dexter RogersCorrespondent IAugust 14, 2010

FOXBORO, MA - AUGUST 12: Reggie Bush # 25 of the New Orleans Saints scores a touchdown against the defense of Darius Butler # 28 of the New England Patriots during the preseason game against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium on August 12, 2010 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Jim Rogash/Getty Images

New Orleans Saints running back, and former USC standout, Reggie Bush issued an apology to new Athletic Director Pat Haden.

Well, sort of.

Even though reports have circulated that Bush issued an apology, according to Haden he didn’t receive one.  During the 15 minute phone conversation with Bush, Haden said he was contrite but not apologetic.  Haden issued the following statement to the LA Times, "Never did he say I'm sorry or I apologize. Never did he say, 'I lied to the NCAA or I took stuff.'"

Haden continued: "I would say it was conversation of him being contrite, but not an apology."

Here’s what Bush had to say about shaming the university, "Obviously, it does, but at the end of the day it is what it is," Bush said. "All I can really do now is focus on the New Orleans Saints and just try to move on. It bothers me and it sucks. The whole situation is terrible and nobody feels worse about it than I do."

Bush continued: "But, at the same time, I can't dwell on the negatives because I do have a job to do and I have a whole organization and a city riding on my back, not necessarily my back, but the team's back."

There’s more. 

Apparently, Bush isn’t allowed back on the campus where he displayed his greatness.  Haden stated, "I wish I could ask Reggie to come talk to our football team. I can't. He's not allowed on the campus. But I think he would tell them what a big mistake he made and how sorry he is."

We know Bush was on the take at USC in 2004 and 2005.  It was revealed he pocketed over $300,000 and received a lavish car.  Bush’s parents were living in a $700,000 home and received money to travel to his away games.

What Bush did is cited as the reason why USC got popped with four years of probation and a two year bowl ban, among other things.

Should Bush have apologized to Haden?

Apologized for what?

If I were Bush, instead of apologizing, I would have been a man and put my name on it.  I would have said what many athletes are afraid to say, that student athletes should be paid. 

Bush should have issued the following, “Yeah, I was on the take. Now what?  It wasn’t fair to me, being the big man on campus, generating millions, and I couldn’t get any of it."

He should have concluded with, “I was on the take because my family needed it. I was on the take because the NCAA, my coach, and the university were getting their pockets lined.  I got tired of seeing my jerseys all over California, and not seeing a cent from that merchandising revenue.  In essence the system forced me to take the money.”

USC was getting rich off of Bush’s talents, the head coach had a huge contract, and fans were wearing his jersey.  Meanwhile Bush had a scholarship for an opportunity to receive an education.

Who was getting the better end of the deal here?

This isn’t about Bush taking money.  This is about everyone around Bush profiting from his ability to play football except him.  It’s about college athletes all over the country getting treated like modern day slaves. 

It’s about coaches like Rick Pitino having sex outside his marriage and embarrassing the University of Louisville, yet not getting disciplined by the campus president.

It’s about the likes of John Calipari, who has two Final Four appearances wiped off the books, in 1996 at UMass and 2007 at Memphis, cashing big checks at Kentucky. Despite these blatant violations, he was not disciplined by the NCAA for his actions.

You have players like Bush who took money being blasted by the media.  Then the big bad NCAA suspends Dez Bryant last season for having a meal with former NFL star Deion Sanders.

Give me a break.

Let’s be real.  Bush was playing in front of 100,000 strong at the Coliseum.  He trots on the field to see tons of No. 5 jerseys of which he cannot reap any rewards from.  He’s being coached by a man who is making millions of dollars.  He’s driving around in a beat up car and his parents are struggling.

If athletes are responsible for creating huge sums of revenue, they should have access to some of the dough.  Athletes should receive a stipend that acknowledges their efforts. 

No longer can the NCAA ignore this problem and blame everyone except themselves.  For a non profit entity, it’s sure rolling in the dough.  Yet the NCAA continually upholds and enforces archaic legislation that prohibits athletes from getting a piece of the pie.

Meanwhile everyone is quick to point the finger at Bush. 

What about Pete Carroll? 

Carroll saw what was about to go down at USC.  That’s why he bolted up north to coach in the NFL.  He’s smiling and still earning millions of dollars, yet the media is hammering Bush.  If the media wants to hammer Bush that’s fine, but sock it to Carroll as well. 

Blast the guy who was in charge of the program.  Ask him the tough questions about what was going on and induce him to apologize as well.

Bottom line: The system needs to be changed. Pay the players so they won’t have to apologize for being on the take.