I had an interested conversation about USC with my potential new roommate last night. A fellow sports fanatic and former Californian, Maytal really believes Southern California got ‘screwed’ by the NCAA for turning a blind eye to the Reggie Bush incident. She feels that the Trojans are just the unlucky school of the hundreds that cheat who got caught and of whom are now being made an example.
I have to stop right here and say that nothing infuriates me more when reading a blog post than when the writer waffles on his or her opinion for a given subject. Why waste your time and your readers’ time writing about a topic, sports-related or not, if you don’t have an opinion on it?
It was odd, then, that I found myself unsure of how to best approach a discussion on USC’s decision to return its Heisman trophy commemorating Bush’s receiving ‘The Most Prestigious Award in College Football’ and, even more uncertainly, Bush’s decision not to.
I agree with Dan Levy’s stance that college athletes are no longer ‘kids’ and know full well what they’re getting into when they decide to put their hand in the proverbial cookie jar. Reggie Bush knew what he was doing was wrong and did it anyway. Still, the Heisman trophy isn’t an humanitarian award bestowed upon the greatest collegiate football player who also happens to rescue puppies, tutor children and spend time with the elderly in his spare time, just as an example. It’s about numbers and results on the field, end of story. Right?
That was my thinking when I entered this lively dialogue with Maytal and our other, less-excited-about-sports-but-still-willing-to-put-up-with-us gal pal, Alisha. I steadfastly agreed with USC’s decision to return their replica of the trophy and applaud them for their commitment to return to good standing with the NCAA moving forward but during our conversation, I was pretty much okay with the idea of Bush holding on to his statuette.
After all, Bush broke records, increased his school’s popularity, enrollment and revenue, and outshone all of his fellow contenders for the Heisman in 2005. The trophy, as I stated earlier, isn’t about the well-rounded individual who dedicates his life off the field to the betterment of his community. It’s about rewarding a player for the most exceptional season in the trenches. Had Bush been found guilty of taking steroids or other performance-enhancing drugs, I’d have been the first in line to demand the return of his statue. But getting fancy cars and having a nice apartment for his parents paid for by agents doesn’t make him run faster, jump higher, or score any more points.
I went to the Heisman Trophy website’s history page to do some research before writing this article, just so I didn’t start saying something about how Bush still deserves the trophy based on his performance, even though he took kickbacks, and find out later that there’s a stipulation in the rules saying he had be by the book to receive the award.
The Heisman’s history page doesn’t say it, but the Heisman ballot apparently does. Good thing I read a ESPN religiously, or this post would have been more embarrassing than I’ve already allowed it to become. Gene Wojciechowski set me straight the day after my chat with Maytal and Alisha:
“There isn’t any wiggle room on a Heisman ballot. It says it right there, in bright red letters: ‘The recipient must be in compliance with the bylaws defining an NCAA student athlete.’”
There you have it, folks. Reggie Bush doesn’t deserve the Heisman Trophy for his 2005 season any more than I do for my 2005 season on the Windsor Residence Halls girls’ flag football team…which I rocked, by the way.
Mr. Bush, the Heisman Trust would like it’s trophy back. I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t want a trophy sitting in my house that I didn’t earn, serving as a constant reminder of the shame and disgrace I brought down upon my alma mater and the National Championship that now means absolutely nothing. Guess that’s your call though.