Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Heisman Trust v. Reggie Bush

The Reggie Bush situation is one of the most intriguing things to happen to sports in years. But I am having a lot of trouble deciding on where I stand on this. I do feel like his taking of money does not affect his play at all, but at the same time, a rule is a rule, and he severely broke it. I knew I wanted to write an article on Bush, since this is the biggest current sports story. But I really have no definite feeling one way or the other, but I definitely have feelings about this, if that makes any sense. Okay, that sounded better in my head, but that is the best way to describe it. I am going to attempt to achieve some sort of definite feeling on this topic by the end of this article, so I’ll ask myself some hypothetical questions relating to the subject. But first, a preamble:


The Heisman Trophy is the most prestigious and meaningful award there is. There is no debate about this. What other sports ceremony, or any ceremony for that matter, can get most of its previous winners to attend. What other ceremony demands an over-the-top hour long special on ESPN. Not even the Noble Peace Prize can pull this off (Why would the Noble Peace Prize be on ESPN anyway?). This award is usually correct too, and not just given to the best player or second-best player on a playoff or championship contender. Actually, usually the Heisman winner is from the best schools, but that is because those schools (The USC’s, the Texas’s of the world), have the resources to go out and recruit the definite best players out of high school. That can never happen in the pro leagues, due to the parity and the fact that top draft picks (The professional equivalents of high recruits), always end up on the worst teams coming into the league. If you win the Heisman Trophy in college, you are remembered forever, and are held within the pantheon of great college players. Ask any NFL fan, and they’ll have no idea who Brian Sipe is. Yes, he won the MVP in 1980, but he is never mention with the all-time pro greats. A Heisman win automatically enters you into the select few in college, and that is why it matters so much.

Does Reggie Bush Truly Believe that He Did Wrong?

I do not really believe he does. The thinking I have with Bush, is the same way most thought when Michael Vick issued his apology for dog fighting right after he was accused and charged of doing so. Like most cynical people, I believed that Vick was sorry he got caught, and I feel the same way with Bush. People’s opinions do not change overnight. Maybe Vick’s 2 year prison stay hardened him into believing he was sorry, but Bush cannot go to prison for what he did. I am not sure if The Heisman Trust or whatever the hell the are called, can really believe that Bush wanted to give back the award. He just did not want the bad press, in my opinion. He did not feel like “Hey, I did something wrong and unfair and I violated the rules. I do not deserve this anymore”. He is just sorry he got caught, so I do not feel like anyone can really accept his “apology”

Should the Heisman Trust Re-Do the Voting?

No. Well, I guess if they were to, this would be the ideal year. 2005 runner-up Vince Young (and presumable winner) has one of the worst psyche’s and self-esteem of any professional athlete of the past ten years. Stepping aside from Young, the Trust made the right choice. There is no point on dwelling on the past. With that said, let’s move on. And continue talking about 2005.

Should Lane Kiffin (USC Head Coach) Be More Upset?

To me, this is the most surprising point of the whole situation. Wouldn’t anybody who has followed sports remotely the past three years believe that Kiffin would chastise Bush until Bush used the Heisman to stab Kiffin in the throat? Oh, that’s just me. Anyway, I though Kiffin would go off on Bush way more than he has. The most he has said is that talking about Bush is pointless, to paraphrase. Has Kiffin even talked to Bush on this? This wouldn’t really be necessary, but Kiffin is the coach that would do something like this. Here is how I imagine the exchange would go:

Bush: Hey Lane-

Kiffin: Mr. Kiffin.

Bush: You’re how old? Anyway, I am here to apologize to you and the university and the players, and really everyone who I-

Kiffin: You’re damn right you are apologizing! (Jumps over table in between them, begins to strangle Bush with telephone cord) You sick son-of-a-

Couldn’t you see this happening? I mean other then fact that Lane Kiffin is using a non-wireless phone in 2010, this is pretty believable right? It’s just me again? Zero for two today. But anyway, Kiffin is one of the most outspoken and feverish coaches in any sport. At the least, you would expect that he demands that Bush apologizes to each and every one of the juniors and seniors, for robbing them of playing in a bowl game. Which Bush should have done anyway, no matter how insane that sounds.

Why Does the NCAA Give Out Seemingly the Same Punishment for Everything?

I bring this up because the NCAA seems to only have one answer to college scandals. You take money and you are done. Look at the Unfortunate Example of Jeremy Bloom (Which sounds like a movie starring Johnny Depp). He took sponsorship money while in college from his lucrative skiing career. Except he was also playing wide receiver for the Colorado Buffalo football team. Apparently, trying to further your career is just as bad as falling into a seedy agent’s trap, which Bush did. This really is the same punishment. You took away Bloom’s football career, and you took the most meaningful sporting award there is out there away from Bush. They have the same degree of consequence. This does not seem right. If you take any money while a collegiate athlete, you are basically screwed. But what Bloom and Bush did are not the same, and the NCAA only has one (wrong) standard.

Did Taking Money Affect His Play on the Field?

Unless that money was directed towards steroids and human growth hormone, then no. This is a pretty big question. If what push did really did not affect his play on the field, then why should his award be taken away in the first place? I know he broke the rules and shattered his ineligibility, but doesn’t this seem a bit harsh? I asked my dad about it, and he said Bush deserved this. I am not sure if I necessarily agree with him. I know that the NCAA’s eligibility rules are stiff. But it seems kind of, well, stupid, for Bush to lose the Heisman for doing something that does not directly influence his play on the field. You cannot inject money, and it wasn’t like Bush was using this to make him a better player. He just bought a nice car and home for his family. He did break the rules, but I do not know if the NCAA should be prosecuting him for something that he did 5 years ago, and as punishment have Bush be pressured into giving away the award. And he was pressured. It just seems like a waste of time at this point, since Bush isn’t even in college anymore.

It almost seems like our justice system trying to prosecute somebody for murder, and that person is dead. So as punishment, they take that person’s Noble Prize away from his family. Now I know the fact that a murderer winning the Noble Prize seems pretty illogical, but this is the best example there is.

Does Taking the Award Away Matter at This Point?

As I said in the last paragraph, I do not think it does. It seems like the NCAA is spending too much time on something like this, and ignoring the issues of illegal recruitment they face everyday. The NCAA is kind of like the anti-MLB, at this point. Major League Baseball, sure they looked into the steroids. But they did not penalize the San Francisco Giants by taking away 2 first round draft picks and having McCovey Cove flood into their ballpark. Major League Baseball did not take Bonds’ name out of the record book. They did not take his 4 MVP awards that he won while on steroids. The NCAA did much more than MLB to combat their most pressing issue. For that, I have to give them credit. But I think that dwelling on the past and penalizing the players and taking the award away from Reggie, just does not matter at this point.

In sum, I think Reggie should keep the award. It took 1,500 words, but I think I figured it out my the end. Basically, the NCAA has better things to do. And same with Reggie, although he deserves the award. I am not sure the Heisman Trust does, however.

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