Tarnished Trojan: Who Gets the Heisman If Reggie Bush Is Stripped?

Mike MartinCorrespondent ISeptember 19, 2008

One of these days the NCAA has to make a ruling on Reggie Bush's transgressions—excuse me, alleged transgressions.  I'm not here to say that Bush did or did not take benefits while at USC.

If you're not familiar with the claims, either crawl back under your rock or Google "Reggie Bush NCAA Violation Update Blog," and you'll find tons of documented transgressions of the University of Southern California Trojans led by Reggie Bush.  His bad deeds are so numerous, I can't be bothered to type them.

I'm looking exclusively at the 2005 Heisman Trophy and assuming that Reggie Bush is stripped of the award.  If any of Bush's transgressions are found to be true, he should be forced to hand over the Heisman.

Additionally, it only seems fair that the person who received the second-most votes be given the award.  That man is Vince Young of the Texas Longhorns.  Case closed...or is it?

Reggie Bush, with 2,541 points, was a pretty clear winner over Young, who had 1,608 total points—nearly a 1,000-point difference between the two athletes.

Bush, the Doak Walker Award and Walter Camp Award recipient, garnered the highest percentage of first place votes in the history of the Heisman.  Listing his production and impact on his team for the year would be difficult.  Clearly Reggie Bush was the best athlete in college football that year.

Let's just assume that Reggie Bush was caught before the season and ruled ineligible for the 2005 season.  Would that automatically slide Vince Young up to become the Heisman Trophy recipient?

After all, there's again a thousand-point separation between first place and second place.  Vince Young seems to be the logical person for Reggie Bush to hand the trophy off to.

But there's another piece to the puzzle.  First and third in the voting were both in the same backfield at USC: Reggie Bush and Matt Leinart.  

1. Reggie BushUSC78489112541
2. Vince YoungTexas796131451608
3. Matt LeinartUSC18147449797


Did Bush make Leinart look good enough to be third in the voting—and by subtracting Bush, would Leinart not have looked so hot?

While nobody before or since Bush has been the level of Bush, someone would have taken Bush's reps in practice and snaps in games.  Given the quality of athletes up and down the USC roster, one would assume that someone else would step up and be the next guy—not the quality of Bush, but a quality replacement no less. 


Did Bush and Leinart make balloters split their votes between two on the same team, producing the 1,000-point gap between Young and Leinart?

This one is hardest to gauge.  In 2006 the Ohio State Buckeyes had Troy Smith and Ted Ginn, Jr. in contention for the Heisman, and the university's position on it was that they'd hype both athletes equally. Then when one appeared to be far enough ahead of the other, the Buckeyes would solidify their official support for that individual.

Ohio State's thinking was that if both were hyped, they could wind up splitting the votes, and neither could wind up winning the most coveted individual award in college football.


Was Young productive enough in the regular season to have convinced voters that head-to-head, Young was better than Leinart?

Vince Young, on critical plays, kept Texas in games.  He was his own Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush.  Texas had many fine athletes in 2005, but none were the true gamebreakers that Young appeared to be.  However, we didn't see how truly lethal Young's legs were until he went up against USC, and the Heisman had already been awarded before the BCS Championship.

I feel that, yes, Bush and Leinart did make voters split their votes.  Take Bush out of the picture, and Leinart doesn't get pushed into the end zone against Notre Dame—and they don't have an undefeated season.  But Leinart would not have had someone like Bush stealing the spotlight either.

Although the voting would have been close between Matt Leinart and Vince Young, Young was a dual-threat QB and a freak of an athlete who would have won the Heisman. 

Should Reggie Bush be stripped of the Heisman, Vince Young should receive it.