Reggie Bush Had to Give the Heisman Back, or Else It Was Going To Be Taken Back

Kristian SiutaCorrespondent IISeptember 17, 2010

PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 04:  Reggie Bush #5 of the USC Trojans runs the ball against Cedric Griffin #8 of the Texas Longhorns during the first quarter of the BCS National Championship Rose Bowl Game at the Rose Bowl on January 4, 2006 in Pasadena, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

Reggie Bush is no longer the 2005 Heisman trophy award winner. During the summer, newly-hired USC Athletic Director Pat Haden removed Reggie Bush’s replica trophy from the Trojans' trophy case. Haden did not just stop there, he also went as far as removing all memorabilia and jerseys on campus of the former Trojan great.

Reggie Bush did not have his trophy ripped from his grasp this week, he kindly handed the trophy over to the Heisman trust.

Although to be kind, either way the trophy was no longer his. If Bush was not going to give back the award, there is no doubt that the trust committee was coming for it.

Sure, some might say that Bush did the respectful act of returning the trophy after a grueling investigation found the former Trojan to be ineligible.

However, the performances that Bush displayed each and every Saturday in 2005 proved to voters that No. 5 was far and away the most outstanding college football player that season.

Anyone who would like to contest that statement? If so, that year was the widest margin of victory in terms of votes that the Heisman committee ever witnessed. Reggie Bush’s playmaking ability was the reason for runaway victory.

All of that now is forgotten. The 2005 Heisman trophy winner has now been vacated, or at least in the Heisman trust’s eyes. In terms of the fans, everyone will remember the highlight reel plays that made SportsCenter’s top 10 plays routinely.

Now that Bush has returned the award, folks around the country wanted his perspective of the situation. Bush then went on the offensive, after staying quiet throughout the whole investigation.

Bush criticized the very school and organization for which he suited up and displayed his talents for each and every game. Now, the former Trojan is calling for players to be paid and rewarded for revenue, ticket sales, and jersey sales.

Maybe Bush saw the flashy Hollywood ride that head coach Pete Carroll was cruising around Downtown L.A. in, and wanted a piece of the pie as well? Then again, maybe the house that Bush’s family received was payment for the jersey sales that Bush’s No. 5 brought in at the Coliseum?

Bush even went on to defend other players around the country who are now being uncovered to have taken part in similar “charitable gifts.”  Reggie Bush defended the college athletes who come from poor families, who are striving to reach the next level to help out their families.

The key phrase is, next level. In college, the players on scholarships are handed free tuition for their entire college career. That is before they even play a single down of college football.

Think back to the NFL draft three years ago. Matt Ryan, a signal caller from Boston College, was tabbed as the best quarterback in the entire draft. “Matty Ice” lived up to those lofty expectations, but before Ryan even took a single snap, veteran players across the league were up in arms due to his robust signing bonus of nearly $35 million. At that time, his contract was the largest of any rookie player ever.

For Reggie Bush, think back to his first season at USC. Pete Carroll sent Bush a scholarship offer to compete and earn a top-tier education at the University of Southern California. Who among us is going to turn down that once-in-a-lifetime opportunity?

From that time, Reggie Bush and his family virtually inherited $50,000 a year for tuition. 

Not too shabby for a signing bonus in college, right? For players trying to get to the next level, a free college education and a chance to play in the spotlight on national television every weekend is a dream come true.

Although for Reggie Bush, his dream of the NFL came a little earlier than most. Brushing shoulders with agents, accepting cash incentives, gifts for family members, and stylish cars brought on the NFL lifestyle too soon.

Bush essentially was extorting money from a potential NFL agent. Something an amateur student-athlete should have no part in while striving to be an eligible college athlete.

In the end, long after his career at USC came to end, Bush was ruled ineligible.  His role in accepting cash gifts for himself as well as on his family’s behalf was the determining factor. The money was always going to be there when Reggie’s career came to an end at USC, unfortunately for USC and Reggie Bush, both parties are now paying for it five years later.

Both USC and Reggie Bush were caught with their hands in the cookie jar. Pat Haden and USC are taking steps to disassociate their prestigious institution from their former Heisman award winner, but Reggie Bush has not taken the steps to fully own his mistakes.

Now, Reggie Bush is attempting to return to USC in the future to earn his degree. One has to wonder how wisely that scholarship offer extended to Bush in 2001 is paying off in the long run for the USC Trojans.

In USC’s case, the Trojans will be feeling the hurt from the NCAA sanctions handed down this past Summer for years to come. Now, USC has one less Heisman Trophy for the cardinal and gold fans to boast their chests about, as well as one less National Championship.

Reggie Bush on the other hand, somewhat quietly returned his award, not the money or gifts he “allegedly” received at USC, but just the hardware. His name is now vacated from Heisman Trophy lure and all record books. It is almost as if Reggie Bush never played college football for USC.

Then again, Reggie Bush, for the better part of his college career, was already essentially a pro athlete.