If USC, Bush cheated, should they lose BCS title, Heisman?

  The 125-year NCAA investigation (okay, that’s a SLIGHT exaggeration) into the University of Southern California football program and star running back Reggie Bush is expected to mercifully come to an end soon. There were rumblings that the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions would release its report last week but it didn’t. The investigation has been going on since 2006 so what’s a few more days? USC went before the Infractions Committee in February. In the old days they used to come up with a decision about six weeks after the hearing. Not any more.  Hey, it’s complicated and this is one of the most complicated cases ever.

This all happened a long time ago so let’s recap: Bush, the 2005 Heisman Trophy winner, allegedly received $300,000 in cash and other benefits from a two “gentlemen” (Lloyd Lake, Michael Michaels) who wanted to be Bush’s agent. But Bush stiffed those guys and went with another agency. They sued. NCAA investigators hoped that Bush would be put on the witness stand or, at the very least, have to sit for a deposition. Lying to NCAA investigators has no consequences unless you’re a current college player (ask Dez Bryant). But lying under oath gets you fitted for a striped suit and tin cup. It came as no surprise when Bush settled the case out of court rather than be compelled to tell the truth about his relationship with the two gentlemen in question.

I don’t have to tell you that a lot of people are watching this case and are handicapping the outcome. Opinions differ.  Former USC coach Pete Carroll, who got out of town (Seattle Seahawks) in January just ahead of the NCAA posse, said last week that he would be surprised if tough sanctions came down.

But elsewhere in the college football universe, this is seen as a big case test on whether or not the NCAA has the stomach to take down a high-profile football program that is not named Alabama.

If only half of what has been reported about Bush is true and USC skates on this one, there will be a nuclear eruption in Tuscaloosa, Ala. The Crimson Tide program was hammered for rules violations in 2002 and the penalties came with a considerable amount of finger wagging from the NCAA. Who could forget infractions committee chairman Tom Yeager saying that the committee considered giving Alabama the death penalty? He said that Alabama was “absolutely staring down the barrel of a gun (death penalty)” but the committee settled on a two-year bowl ban and the loss of 21 scholarships over three years.

Will the NCAA have the same righteous indignation for misbehavior and lack of institutional control, if proven, that takes place on the West Coast?

It is going to get pretty nasty if USC just gets a slap on the wrist.

Here are two big questions to keep in mind as we await the USC verdict:

No. 1: The qualifications for winning the Heisman Trophy clearly state that the recipient must be NCAA eligible. What if the NCAA proves after the fact that Bush was NOT eligible when he competed and won the Heisman in 2005? Many Heisman winners have had brushes with the law after winning the award but none has ever been stripped of the honor. On its website it says that the “Heisman Trophy Trust ensures the continuation and the integrity of this award.” But would the Heisman Trust want to open this can of worms? My friend Tom Shatel of the Omaha World-Herald suggests that if Bush cheated his Heisman Trophy should just be “vacated” or just stricken from the record books like it never happened.

Here is what I would do. If it is proven that Mr. Bush was ineligible in 2005, rather than set the precedent of vacating the award for that year, I would simply send Mr. Bush a letter telling him he is no longer welcome at any function honoring past Heisman Trophy winners. You can keep the hardware, Reggie, but you are out of the club.  Of course now that Mr. Bush has been paid handsomely by the NFL I’m sure he feels the ends justify the means. In short, shame is probably no longer part of his makeup.

No. 2: Even if the NCAA puts USC on double-secret probation and takes away a bunch of scholarships, that body cannot strip USC of its 2004 BCS national championship. That’s because the NCAA doesn’t award national championships in Division I-A football. And what the NCAA does not giveth, it cannot taketh away.

The BCS does not have an enforcement arm and really doesn’t want to get into the enforcement business. But BCS officials have told me that they would have to consider it if the NCAA proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that USC cheated.

So I’ll put it to you. If the NCAA Committee on Infractions gets the goods on USC—and I’m talking about lock-solid proof– should the BCS take away the 2004 national championship and should Reggie Bush be stripped or otherwise publicly separated from 2005 his Heisman Trophy?

And what happens if, after four years of investigating, the NCAA comes up with nothing?

 

JACK HAIRSTON, RIP: We lost Jack Hairston over the weekend. Jack wrote for the AJC early in his career but was best known as longtime sports columnist for the Gainesville (Fla.) Sun.  He was 81 years old. Jack was a member of the Football Writers Association Hall of Fame and is survived by his wife, Marilyn, and two daughters.  Jack was a good man and helped me early in my career. Please keep his family in your prayers.

 

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393 comments Add your comment

David

May 17th, 2010
12:33 pm

They will never take the title or the Heisman trophy away. Mike Rozier admitted that he took money while at Nebraska. Heisman committee did not do anything. If the NCAA takes USC title away, then they need to take UGA’s title away, for the academic issues and the Firebird the boosters gave Walker.

Tide_7

May 17th, 2010
12:37 pm

1)After 5 years of investigating if they dont’ find something, they need to hire new investigators.
2)Auburn – if you can’t win it on the field, I guess you would take one from the back door.
3)Roll Tide – 13 and counting

Forrest Gump is the most famous Bama grad

May 17th, 2010
12:42 pm

“2)Auburn – if you can’t win it on the field, I guess you would take one from the back door.”

13-0, beotch! We don’t claim fake national championships like the hillbillies of Tuscaloser.

“if you can’t win it on the field”

You must suck at math. What game did Auburn lose? Answer: ZERO!

Forrest Gump is the most famous Bama grad

May 17th, 2010
12:43 pm

“Roll Tide – 13 and counting”

LOL! Bama isn’t known for being a school for math majors.

XpatHeel

May 17th, 2010
12:44 pm

Don, Mr. SEC Football, aka Barnyard, can only peck out one article a day. Any more and he wants O.T.

THE storyline of the day is the ESPN deal w/ the ACC…not some 6 yr. old story of how USC and Bush have cheated. Now he has to wear a dunce cap and stand in the corner. Big Deal. Wrist Slap coming.

The per school pay out negotiated by the ACC is now in the same room w/ the SEC, and includes basketball. ESPN will no longer be hyping the $ec at the expense of the ACC. You guys will have to start sharing Prime Time on the WWL, like it or not.

Will

May 17th, 2010
12:44 pm

I am for the death penalty if all of these allegations are true. It’s time to send a message to Myer, Kiffin and Saban that cheating will not be permitted any longer,

Galin Hall

May 17th, 2010
12:45 pm

Is a frog’s ass, water-tight?

Jacketman

May 17th, 2010
12:47 pm

HELL YES!!!! They need to show that USC is NOT above everyone else! Strip the Title, Strip the Heisman, and long time probabtion!!!!!

fishtales

May 17th, 2010
12:47 pm

13…8…whatever you want it doesn’t matter to us. And you don’t really need much math to know that 8 is a lot more than 1/2.

Forrest Gump is the most famous Bama grad

May 17th, 2010
12:49 pm

“And you don’t really need much math to know”

That statement says everything I need to know about Bama grads.

Rob

May 17th, 2010
12:52 pm

I hate to sound cynical, but I can’t help but wonder if conference expansion and new tv contracts could play a role here. If four 16-team megaconferences emerge from expansion, there is an outside chance that those 64 schools would break entirely with the NCAA, even possibly forming their own basketball tournament. Recent articles and comments seemed to indicate that the PAC-10 might not expand after all. However, USC is the only national tv draw in the PAC-10 and a weakened USC might force the PAC-10 to expand to 16.

gcs

May 17th, 2010
12:53 pm

Yes, take the Heisman back. Yes take the BCS national championship. Yes, forfeit all games Bush participated in while ineligible. Yes, forfeit all games Joe McKnight participated in while ineligible.
And yes, hammer the basketball team as well.

If, after four years of investigating, the NCAA comes up with nothing…
I think it would be time to investigate the NCAA. This organization is more secretive than Skull & Bones. They have absolutely no due process of law, no checks & balances and do whatever they want without repercussions.
Maybe Alabama, Florida State, SMU, Memphis, et al should file a class action lawsuit.

.

Rob

May 17th, 2010
12:55 pm

There are online reports that the ACC has reached a new tv deal with ESPN for $155 million per year. Much better then their old deal but short of the $205 million dollar deal that the SEC has. Does the ajc have any news on this?

kgator79

May 17th, 2010
1:00 pm

XpatHeel….you really think some deal by ESPN with the ACC has the SEC one bit concerned, especially when it comes to “sharing primetime games?” There isnt even a competition. Pick a date and the SEC has many more great games the nation would rather watch than anything the ACC could ever offer. Face it, nobody cares to turn on a game at 7:30 and see Maryland/Boston College when they can go and watch LSU/Auburn or Alabama/Tennessee ect..Even ESPN knows that.

Tombo

May 17th, 2010
1:06 pm

Without vacating the wins, the NCAA implies it is okay to pay players or families and the punishment will only be scholarship losses. Opens Pandora’s box. Need to nail USC to wall and make an example of them. Come on…they kicked Dez Bryant out for a year for talking to Deion. Surely there’s gotta be some major punishment for taking huge amounts of goods/services/cash from an agent.

The NCAA needs to put pressure on BCS and Heisman that their association with college football is in jeopardy if they don’t take punitive steps if Bush found to be in violation.

To stop it from happening, there needs to be jail time for the agents preying on the kids. Put some of the burden on the agents rather than just expecting schools to police the kids 24/7.

kgator79

May 17th, 2010
1:10 pm

Rob….yeah that deal is official. ESPN outbid Foxsports. I honestly think it would have been a better deal for the ACC to go with Fox, utilizing all the Fox sports channels for their games, instead of trying to share the stage with the SEC on ESPN. When it comes to basketball, its a great deal for the ACC, but in football your typical ACC game is going to be that 12 noon game that ESPN use to have for those Big 10 games they would show. Primetime will still going mostly to the SEC because of better matchups.

BIG Nick

May 17th, 2010
1:10 pm

But Reggie Bush was an underprivledged minority who had no other way of being paid $300,000…It’s not his fault. Remember he is black, so he gets a pass and if you do try and hold him accountable for his actions then you are a racist!

T3

May 17th, 2010
1:14 pm

I agree xpatheel.

So, ESPN agrees to a new multi-year deal with the ACC,and
Barnhart chooses to run an article about Reggie Bush.

Typical Barnhart.

help, I live in Ga

May 17th, 2010
1:19 pm

First, they should bring in Phil Fulmer to testify.
Second, they should take all the victories from those two seasons, and give them to Bobby Bowden.
Third, they should take all the Saints victories and give them to the Colts–including the Super Bowl.
Fourth, they should take all the players that left Tennessee and force them to play for Kiffen.
And finally take away all their scholarships for 4 years AND MAKE them play every game on national TV with their walk-ons.
That should do it.

One more thing. They should let Monte retire back to his home in Tampa an not have to coach with the Spawn anymore. Ok one more thing. They should make Monte Knox Kiffen, lose the Monte from his name so he will just be Knox Kiffen–the most beat up kid on the block.

That should do it.

LOL

May 17th, 2010
1:19 pm

Is there a whinier bunch than ACC fans? My god, you folks always have your panties in a wad about some perceived slight.

Einsteindawg

May 17th, 2010
1:22 pm

Nothing will happen to USC except a little verbal posturing by the NCAA. Folks, it’s all about the money and the NCAA love their billions the same as the PAC 10, SEC, ACC, Big 10, Big 12, BSC, etc. If you want someone to blame, how about blaming television. These huge contracts help justify all the cheating from recruiting on down the line. Just my opinion.

gdawginkalamazoo

May 17th, 2010
1:26 pm

Reggie Bush invited Coach Carroll over for dinner with his family one night. Coach asked him how could he afford such a big house on a freshman’s salary. Pete is very familiar with the salary structure for USC football players so you can’t say he (the university) didn’t know.

SaintsLSU, I wouldn’t worry about that “split” NC with USC. You guys got the BCS crystal football which is what counts.

UcantCLA

May 17th, 2010
1:28 pm

YES!!!!!! Cheaty Petey is gone and now the program is in shambles. but I’ll admit Im kinda biased.

Harry C

May 17th, 2010
1:30 pm

Yes, USC needs to lose the championship if found quilty especially as there are rumors of “new” violations. I also believe Bush needs to lose the Heisman and it given to the runner-up in the voting.

Whopper Dawg

May 17th, 2010
1:32 pm

I live outside of Memphis, and there basketball team just got Hammered. They should go after the Trojans too.

gdawginkalamazoo

May 17th, 2010
1:32 pm

Given the fact that he settled out of court instead of testifying and trying to clear his name would be an admission of guilt. IF the Heisman club has rules and those rules were broken then I would imagine they have consequences for breaking those rules. Follow those. Same for the NCAA and USC. Rules broken, pay the consequences. I think USC knows this will be the case and therefore they hired Kiffin to burn the probation time off the clock. After that is done they will can him.

gdawginkalamazoo

May 17th, 2010
1:33 pm

So Thursday nights are all booked up with ACC football. Was that a doubleheader deal? Next are we going to have noon kickoffs on Thursday?

Billy

May 17th, 2010
1:35 pm

First of all, I cannot stand USC, and think it would be hillarious to watch them suffer. But, having said that, I also cannot stand the fact that one sorry low life, breaks the rules and the entire team has to suffer. And it isn’t even his team that’s suffereing, but an entirely different one. The NCAA system of punishment is a joke. The true violaters are never really punished, just the other people who happen to go the same school. What they should do, is make all players sign a contract that will make them liable for any damages they cause due to rules violations.
So, take his heisman, but leave the title.

bills

May 17th, 2010
1:37 pm

Tina, your continuing rants against UGA are not only out of place in this blog but seriously overstate problems in Athens (and Tuscaloosa and Columbia and Oxford and Knoxville, etc.). UGA has done nothing at the level of USC’s problems, and you should be aware of that. Take it somewhere else where the sun don’t shine, babe.

KJ

May 17th, 2010
1:37 pm

LOL @ bringing UGA into a discussion that has nothing to do with them. Give the trolls a rope long enough, and they’ll pull UGA into the Kennedy assassination. Pathetic, jealous trolls.

Oh, and the reason there’s no story about whatever deal the ACC made, is that nobody cares. This is football we’re talking about.

jackyldo

May 17th, 2010
1:40 pm

Basketball and football players getting extras from alums and who knows what else. If you don’t punish alums everywhere step up and get a little more involved..

This dual issue shows institutional lack of control… Vacate wins, punish with scolarship reductions and a year or two ban on post season.

Show your serious or don’t even bother calling yourself an enforcement branch.

74 Dawg

May 17th, 2010
1:41 pm

What about Matt Leinert’s parents renting the million dollar condo for $2000 a month,and Joe McKnight getting a new car “for all his Hos”? And add in the Mayo. This is worse than the Bama situation,and in line with what broke up the old Southwest Conference. It is either total arrogance or a total lack of institutional control.

Hambone

May 17th, 2010
1:42 pm

Judge not less you be judged yourself. It does not matter we are all human with flaws of greed and winning. Make yourself whole then help your neighbor.

Mitchell Gantt

May 17th, 2010
1:44 pm

You’re a little too quick to jump on the “explosion in Tuscaloosa” bandwagon, Tony. It’s a lot more likely that the people in the know over there are praying for a slap on the wrist; Alabama has been under NCAA investigation for major recruiting violations and academic fraud since the summer of 2007, and the longer the investigation has gone on, the more violations the NCAA has uncovered. They are next in line for the Infractions Committee. Saban, Mal Moore, and Mike Slive all know it, and so does every reporter in the southeast, as well as most national reporters, but nobody will break the story without a witness willing to go on the record. That hasn’t happened yet, but it’s not going to be terribly much longer.

74 Dawg

May 17th, 2010
1:44 pm

By the way,is that how you spell Hos? Spell checker was no help.

Skeezix

May 17th, 2010
1:48 pm

If these charges prove true, they should receive at a minimum the same punishment as Bama-but I would like to see them get the death penalty, lose the title and the Heisman. This would set the proper tone for the future. It is time that colleges go back to placing academics, integrity, and honor first and quit selling out to the modern day multi-billion dollar sports industry.

Greensboro News & Record

May 17th, 2010
1:55 pm

…….Nesbitt for Hesman……..

Greensboro News & Record

May 17th, 2010
1:56 pm

gdawginkalamazoo

May 17th, 2010
1:57 pm

Billy, the thing with “don’t punish the entire team” is that there had to be some of the other players on there that knew something about this. Locker room talk, flashing the cash (house). Those kids should have reported it. Ahh, but that is never going to happen because Reggie was the star. You don’t want to rat out the program. Can’t blow the whistle on your team mates or you thrown under the bus. All the kids are trying to get to the NFL and made their home at USC.

Wilbur

May 17th, 2010
2:02 pm

Heck, if the NCAA is really serious about cleaning up college sports…let them require all incoming freshmen to meet each schools incoming freshman class admission requirements on college boards and HS GPA…..oh they don’t want do that…because they’d get sued by every attorney on the grounds of limiting minority rights to higher education and they’d get fired by their home institutions because the alumni donations would drop by about 75% and their athelic departments would be recruiting kids that normally go to DIII schools….my goodness it would look like 1960 all over again wouldn’t it.

Reptiles Rule

May 17th, 2010
2:22 pm

“Will” states in his 12:44 post…”It’s time to send a message to Myer (Meyer, I’ll guess), Kiffin and Saban that cheating will not be permitted anymore. Meyer and Saban???? Since when???? Will, I hate to tell you this, but KICKING YOUR BUTT is NOT an NCAA violation!

Reason (Trojan Alum)

May 17th, 2010
2:27 pm

The NCAA cannot take away what it doesn’t award. USC was the AP and BCS National Champions. Also, the NCAA cannot take away Heisman trophies because they don’t award them. Even if you take away Reggie bush’s contributions we still beat Oklahoma by multiple touchdowns in 2004. The NCAA has no solid evidence of any wrong doings accept for the testimony of a convicted felon, such evidence would not be admissible in a civil court. The allegations made against Reggie bush fall within 2005 season, if any wins were vacated it would be from that season. Trust me USC fans are trying to forget the 2005 Rose Bowl already, so who cares take those wins.

API blows

May 17th, 2010
2:31 pm

Forrest Gump is the most famous Bama grad

Your school is a cow college. You have a building that has “Dairy Science” written on it. You can drive through town and have a sociology degree thrown in your car window. It’s almost lost accredidation TWICE in 10 years. Oh, and they are 4 in the NCAA for most probations due to NCAA violations. They also had to pay off Terry Bowden to shut him up about Dye’s system of giving players $10,000 for signing with Auburn and a $600 a month allowance. Go wash your John Deere.

Forrest Gump is the most famous Bama grad

May 17th, 2010
2:41 pm

“Your school is a cow college.”

Yeah, Auburn does have a great Vet school. Why do you hate animals?

“You have a building that has “Dairy Science” written on it.”

OH NO!!!!!! NOT DAIRY!!!!!!!!!! You must think that dairy is a bad thing, moron.

“You can drive through town and have a sociology degree thrown in your car window.”

LOL! Ok, well at least we can get jobs outside of Tuscaloser.

“It’s almost lost accredidation TWICE in 10 years.”

LOL! You can’t even spell!!!!!!!! We ranked higher in the top 100 Universities than Bama, ma’am.

“Oh, and they are 4 in the NCAA for most probations due to NCAA violations.”

Proof please.

“They also had to pay off Terry Bowden ”

At least we didn’t have to fire a coach over prostitution.

John Deere? Dern, ya got me dare, ma’am. Last time I checked, John Deere’s were the top made lawn equipment in the country.

Guess your mom/sister didn’t teach you no common sense.

Tide Rising

May 17th, 2010
2:55 pm

Lot of misinformation going on here. I see that a lot of people have the impression that Bama got nailed with lack of institutional control. Nope. We got hit hard with 3 major violations but none of them involved lack of institutional control. The heavy penalties were because of one out of control booster Logan Young buying players and this guy was a Vandy grad and not a Bama grad.

Of the 2 other major violations 2 private lawyers sued the NCAA to release docs that the NCAA thought they would never have to release. The fact of the matter is that the NCAA investigator Johannigmeir fabricated the evidence in one of the allegations. This was flat out proven in court documents. Not an opinion. It is a PROVEN FACT.

In the other allegation the testimony used against Bama was from Phil Fulmer and Tom Culpepper. The testimony of both men was contradictory, they ended up calling each other liars, and yet their testimony for some reason was used despite the fact that some, parts, or all of the testimony of 1 or both men was false given the numerous contradictions. So if one or both of the men’s testimony is false then how can the testimony of either be used?

The 2 high school coaches who were basically steering Albert Means to the highest bidder testified that Tenn, Ark, Bama, and 2 Big 10 teams were all bidding to get means. Why were the other schools left off the hook if the coaches said boosters for those schools were also bidding?

It is also a FACT that the NCAA ignored its own rules and bylaws in the Alabama case. Bama self reported one of the 3 major allegations and according to the NCAA’s own rules and bylaws the NCAA had a one year window to respond. They responded well after the 1 year window but then later ignored its own rules. What good is an organization that ignores its own rules and bylaws?

Bottom line is that nobody knows what the NCAA will do. Why? Because in the words of Danny Sheridan who sets the betting lines for USA Today and several of Vegas’s leading casinos “The NCAA is a corrupt and highly politicized organization that could not stand up to public nor congressional scrutiny”. Sheridan also wrote that its punishments were highly inconsistent, arbitrary, and capricious. And people think the NCAA will do the right thing one way or another? Gimme a break.

Dave

May 17th, 2010
2:57 pm

We already know what the NCAA has in terms of evidence. The NCAA is making a judgment call about USC’s compliance efforts — whether they were serious or simply for show. You can’t stop people determined to get around rules. You can only make a serious enough effort to make it difficult.

Which means it doesn’t matter whether or not Pete knew Lake and Michaels were funneling Bush cash and prizes. It only matters that they had access to the locker room.

The BCS will do nothing. They see it as just one more controversy and another set of POed members of Congress they don’t need, although I think they’re being short-sighted. The MNC is tainted enough already. This will just add fuel to that fire, which is more dangerous to their gaosl in the long run.

Dave

May 17th, 2010
3:00 pm

Tide Rising — just curious: why didn’t Alabama sue if the NCAA violated its own by-laws?

Tide Rising

May 17th, 2010
3:12 pm

Dave,

Alabama’s lawyers pointed this out both in our hearing and in our appeal. The ncaa simply ignored the fact that they ignored their own rules. You can do that when you answer to no one.

Tide Rising

May 17th, 2010
3:24 pm

Dave,

One other thing. The private lawyers who sued the NCAA had nothing to do with the university’s appeal. They were Alabama grads who knew something was really afoul with the ncaa and sued on their own dime to expose the ncaa. They pretty much knew the NCAA wasn’t being factual with their investigation. The school itself was intimidated and just threw itself at the mercy of the NCAA. If Tommy Gallion and his law partner hadn’t sued to make the ncaa’s docs public then we would never have found out just how much crap they fabricated. On a side note on one of the 3 major allegations a player involved Kenny Smith and his mother sued the ncaa successfully. Turns out he was forced under pressure from Fulmer to go along with allegations against Bama which he ended up later recanting on and suing the ncaa and Fulmer over. And of course he won.

Steve Spurrier

May 17th, 2010
3:35 pm

Check with Klempsin. They had 150+ violations that were discovered afer their MNC and all they got was 2 years probation. Of course the Death Penalty was invented because of their cheating ways and SMU got it the next year. Klempsin kept the trophy. Pure BS.