With Reggie Bush reportedly set to have the 2005 Heisman Trophy stripped from him the question now moves to how this can be prevented from happening again. It's easy to put the onus on the coaches and agents but that isn't all of the problem.
The NCAA must learn from its mistakes and try to fix the black eye that is on college football right now.
Hold coaches responsible
Pete Carroll just happened to bolt for the NFL right before the NCAA laid the hammer down on USC. The program is now banned from postseason activity for two seasons and the head coach doesn't pay a price at all. How about punishing the man who was the face of the program from 2001-2009.
Yes I know you can't exactly punish somebody who is no longer coaching in the NCAA but what about a ban or at least a suspension if he decides to accept another job. John Calipari has left two basketball programs in shambles and hasn't paid a price for it.
Right now, there's too much temptation in front of coaches not to bend the rules considering that the punishment doesn't fit the crime.
Allow a courting period for agents
This opinion may not be popular among many but it needs to be done. Instead of having agents and players going behind the schools backs there should be a period during the season when the two can meet.
Make sure these visits are supervised on campus so there can't be any gifts given to players. It may seem a bit drastic but sometime drastic measures need to be taken to get the proper results.
Pay the players
Let's be realistic. Would it be that big of a problem to give a monthly allowance to players?
I'm not suggesting that they should be given a boat load of money but 100-200 dollars should suffice. It wouldn't solve the problem of agents flashing gifts in front of players faces. It would allow players a chance to turn down the free meal and buy it themselves though.
This will likely remain an issue that the NCAA will keep shoving aside.
If the reports are true and Bush loses the Heisman the NCAA is going to have to be consistent when investigating future athletes whose awards are under question. Bush more than likely isn't the first Heisman winner to receive gifts and odds are he won't be the last.
It's the NCAA's job to make sure that no Heisman candidate has committed any violations during the season they are up for the prestigious trophy.
No matter how you slice it this ended up being bad for Bush, the NCAA, and USC football. Everyone involved needs to learn from the mistakes that were committed and handle the fallout from all of this with class.