Reggie Bush, The Martyr Of College Football, Has No Reason To Apologize

Chris CluffCorrespondent IISeptember 19, 2010

NEW YORK - DECEMBER 10:  Running back Reggie Bush #5 of the USC Trojans poses with the 2005 Heisman trophy after winning the award at the 71st Annual Heisman Ceremony on December 10, 2005 in New York City.  (Photo by Stephen Chernin/Getty Images)
Stephen Chernin/Getty Images

Reggie Bush has been vilified and convicted in the court of public opinion, with most anyone involved in college football or the media trying to turn him into one of the sport’s all-time villains.

Washington coach Steve Sarkisian was the latest to jump on the “Rip Reggie” bandwagon, telling ESPN, “He had a chance to apologize, look like the good guy. But in giving [the Heisman Trophy] back and not apologizing, he just looks like an idiot again.”

Coach, you’re the one who looks like an idiot—actually a hypocrite—because you were part of Bush’s USC team and are just as culpable for “breaking the rules” as Bush was.

But here’s a point most people are missing: Why should Bush apologize for anything?

Reggie Bush should be hailed as a martyr for sacrificing his reputation to expose on the grandest scale the inequities of college sports, for revealing the warts of a bewitched system that has long taken advantage of young athletes, for reminding everyone that colleges make millions off these kids and give them a pittance in return.

It’s understandable that Sarkisian and everyone else involved in college football would attack Bush: These self-righteous hypocrites need to protect the highly profitable institution of college football, and guys like Sarkisian (and many media and fans) are so brainwashed into thinking the NCAA is such an upstanding organization that they would never think of questioning its judgment.

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Together, the good ol’ boys who run the Confederacy, er, NCAA and the good ol’ media who propagate the busted system have managed to turn public opinion against Bush and make him seem like the greatest villain in the history of college sports.

But, to paraphrase one of the great quotes in movie history: Don’t fall for the banana in the tailpipe.

Many of these fools who are ripping Bush obviously have no understanding of the seedy underbelly of college athletics. If they did, they would never, ever blame the kids.

Life is not black and white. It’s full of grays, hundreds of shades of gray. (If you don’t know that by now, you’re either too young to know it or you’re simply a fool—or maybe a blissfully ignorant sheep who would never think to question the motivations of the people who tell you what to think.)

College athletes like Bush live within the darkest shadows of that gray, shadows cast by the unethical adults who are trying to make money off those kids, and it is so easy for the young men to make questionable decisions in such a shady environment.

Bush put it very well the other day, when he told reporters: “You’re still a kid, but you’re still asked to make adult decisions.”

The young men who play football for these large universities and bring them millions of dollars are just pawns controlled by the hypocritical rules of a two-faced organization that says it is about bettering the lives of its student-athletes, but in reality is just using them to make a lot of money.

The people at fault are the adults: the stodgy old geezers who run the antiquated, greedy NCAA; the scumbag agents and their runners who seduce kids and their parents with promises of a better life; the parents who don’t know any better or don’t care that they might be harming their kids’ future; and the university compliance people whose job it is to make sure scumbag agents don’t come into contact with their athletes.

To blame these kids, who are being used and jerked around by adults who just want to make money off them, is the biggest travesty in sports.

Bush should be applauded for turning the tables on these leaches. He’s far from the only athlete to take money from an agent while still playing college ball.

He’s far from the only athlete ever to “get in trouble” with the NCAA. But he’s easily the most high-profile player ever to reveal the flaws in the system.

And that’s why he has been attacked like no other. The NCAA can’t have people questioning its “values.”  

If the NCAA wasn’t so full of hypocrites—greedy, gutless wonders who somehow also manage to convince so many people that they are a righteous bunch—it would do the right thing, the logical thing, and start paying its football players.

Bush was right when he told reporters this week: “Obviously something has to be changed. You’ve got universities making millions of dollars off these kids and they don’t get paid. The majority of college athletes who come in on scholarship come in [with] nothing. That’s where you have a problem. You’re making all this money off these kids and you’re giving them crumbs, and then you’re surrounding these kids with money and telling them not to touch it.”

As much as it’s time to institute a playoff in D-I, it’s also time to pay the players.

It’s well past time to end the farce that is major college football. It’s time to quit pretending these athletes are all students.

Some are, sure, but a vast majority are just there to play ball. And the universities and their coaches wouldn’t care about these kids if they couldn’t play ball and make the schools money.

It’s time to end the charade, time to quit pretending school comes first and athletics second, time to get rid of the veil of so-called propriety.

It’s time to pay college football players. If they want a free education, too, give it to them. But end the hoax. Pay them a standard wage.

Keep player limits similar to the scholarship limits schools currently have. End the whole question of amateur status. Make college football the official minor leagues of the NFL.

Of course, like so many things, it makes too much sense and won’t ever happen. The NCAA is run by a bunch of greedy bureaucrats who enjoy the wealth the kids bring them. Why would they ever get rid of such a golden goose?

It’s the very reason there is no playoff system: The NCAA doesn’t want to lose the millions and millions of dollars it makes off the bowl system (and isn’t smart enough to figure out how to add a playoff without losing the bowls).

The NCAA is not going to change its money-grubbing ways. It will continue to extol bogus virtues while using young men to get rich. And whenever their indentured servants “break the rules,” they will be punished.

Reggie Bush faced the wrath of the NCAA and its misguided and self-righteous minions for daring to question its warped values and turning the tables in his favor.

But Bush didn’t hurt anyone, didn’t affect the integrity of the game of football, didn’t cheat the game in any way. He played hard, played well, entertained people and made his school and conference millions of dollars.

Bush has no reason to apologize. And if you think he does, you should go back with the other sheep and eat your banana.


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