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

Ugay guyz

May 17th, 2010
10:26 pm

What…where is ugay7…dirt nap

Ugay guyz

May 17th, 2010
10:27 pm

If this is all true, ugay will have to give up the *) NC…Herchel and Trans Ams come to Mind

Ugay guyz

May 17th, 2010
10:27 pm

Herchel is flaming


May 17th, 2010
10:34 pm

Faulty reporting Tony Blowhart

as per usual for you, sir.

How in the name of heaven can you only discuss the $ 300,000 dollars given to the top football player in the nation, when as I see it the biggest payoff was the mansion given his parents by agents.

And, how can you discuss Southern California without disclosing that it is so obvious that the NCAA has to label Lack of Institutional Control for agents also giving O J Mayo benefits.

They talked of the 3-Pete but the facts are that LSU was declared National Champions by everyone not named AP Poll, so to have a 3-Pete you have to have won more than 1.

Pete Carroll just got out of town a few minutes before this PROBATION.

This has nothing to do with Alabama.

This is only about sports agents giving monies and other benefits to NCAA student-athletes in the Southern California Athletics Department. That and Brandon Ting USC football player and steroids.

The NCAA can be lied to. All of this reminds me of Tee Martin at Tennessee admitting that he took $7,000 in 2 wire transfers at a 711, after lying about it for years and then responding in the 3rd person that “That was a different Tee Martin, back then with the Tennessee vols. This Tee Martin, today, is a Christian and would never take those monies now.”

Southern California is going down. Why make it sound like it will be a conspiracy if they do not Tony ? This is all so obvious.


May 17th, 2010
10:48 pm

USC has always cheated, but really got crazy under Carroll, Orgeron and Kiffin. They deserve a penalty similar to Miami. MANY lost scholarships. NO bowls for 3 years. I do not think they will receive near the punishment they deserve simply because they are the only big name program that generates national dollars for the NCAA west of Texas. The NCAA will not punish their golden west coast goose

Joey M

May 17th, 2010
10:55 pm

ABSOLUTELY they need to be punished. Lose multiple scholarships, banned from BCS games, lose National Title, no Heisman trophy, Reggie Bush should be banned from stepping on any college campus. There needs to be heavy punishment to deter other schools from making the same risks. It is hard to punish the player other than to remove any and all stats from record while at the school and maybe bar them from entering any college campus is about it. They can’t take money from him. Hurt his pride is the next best thing.


May 18th, 2010
12:01 am

Tina, first, what the #### has this got to do with UGA?

Second, when you can produce comparative arrest records from UGA and any other school, start typing. Until then, have shut the #### up.

Third, UGA is the only school to date, that turns over all campus arrests to local police for prosecution. All other schools (felonies excluded) handle it “internally” as UGA did until 2005.

All the sudden, aka since 2005, UGA has a major problem? No, since 2005, UGA is the only school turning offenders over to local police and NOT covering it up. They should be commended as you dumb ####.


May 18th, 2010
12:07 am

Give me a break.

We all recall the 2001 season and all the arrests

And, 2002

And, 2003

And, 2004


May 18th, 2010
12:33 am

Death Penalty!


May 18th, 2010
4:28 am

Did he cheat on the field? Use drugs? Hurt anyone? No? Nothing to see here. Move on. USC made millions off Reggie Bush and his Heisman. If he got a little of it back, so be it.


May 18th, 2010
5:18 am

30 Georgia Bulldogs’ Football Player Arrests
21 Tennessee vols’ Football Player Arrests
21 Florida crocodiles’ Football Player Arrests
13 Florida State criminoles’ Football Player Arrests


Is THIS what you want me to provide



May 18th, 2010
6:48 am

BuLLdawg, for other schools, what about ALL the on-campus incidents handled by campus police. There is no record of that for you to google. And the schools will not provide it for you. I’ve even emailed Mark Bradley about it. He emailed back saying:

My understanding is that Georgia’s policy is tougher than many schools. Cutting down on underage drinking is one of the president’s causes.

M. Bradley

Beginning in 2005, UGA sends these kids to Clarke County police for prosecution, does UT, UF, FSU, etc.? Don’t think so. You are comparing apples and oranges. Other schools don’t do this for a reason… figure it out.

I’m not saying we don’t have issues, but so do the other schools.

If this were NOT the case, don’t you think some reporter would be all over this, instead of just a bunch of people on blogs seeing what they can figure out from google?

Again, how does this have anything to do with Reggie Bush and USC. Amazing how UGA-haters are obsessed with bashing this school.

Forrest Gump is the most famous Bama grad

May 18th, 2010
8:20 am

“I’ll bet Forrest Gump really lives in Cali, maybe around the San Clemente area, and drives a truck with a Bulldawg on it…”

Do your special ed teachers beat you?

Forrest Gump is the most famous Bama grad

May 18th, 2010
8:22 am

“He cleverly stayed away from the statistical stew he brews up on a daily basis but go back and read the posts and some of the language. For instance, he’s the only clown who brings up the Urban Meyer 0-2 Auburn thing”

Huh, cause if you could actually read you’d have noticed the records etc that I posted. Also, Florida fans care about FL being 0-2 against AU under Meyer.

Tim Tebow cries.


May 18th, 2010
8:58 am

Wins should be forfeited, not vacated. The heisman and national title should be vacated and for three years a minimum of 7 scholarships each year should be lost as well as a bowl ban over that same period of time. Between Bush and Mayo, there was definately a lack of institutional control in Troy.

yo momma

May 18th, 2010
9:15 am

I’d revoke the National Championship. Pull 20 schollys over 3 years and pull all TV for two years. Hate to punish current players but the institution has to feel pain for the lack of control. I’d let them go to a bowl and be on TV for it but would restrict their selection process so they did not have opportunity to BCS bowl payoffs.


May 18th, 2010
9:41 am

The NCAA probably won’t do anything even though USC chose to rehire the 2 coaches primarily responsible for their recruiting “success” during the Reggie Bush era – Lane Kiffin (recruiting coordinator) and Ed Orgeron. Apparently, the PAC-10 is allowed a much more freestyle type of recruiting because Lane and Ed kept getting in trouble from Day – 1 in the SEC.

Allegedly, Bama was buying Memphis kids when they got in trouble. So now that USC has been caught (allegedly) buying kids from SoCal (Bush) and elsewhere (Mayo) – USC should get the same punishment that Bama received: vacate wins, no post season for a few years and burn a bunch of scholarships. USC should also be reprimanded for rehiring questionable coaches.

Please Dooley note that I am SO not missin’ Kiffin. Go Vols!

We’re waiting « The Fan Attic

May 18th, 2010
10:52 am

[...] — the judgment (assuming the rumors and allegations are true) better be at least equivalent. Tony Barnhart makes the point: If only half of what has been reported about Bush is true and USC skates on this one, there will [...]


May 18th, 2010
3:39 pm

Not ONLY should they take Bush’s Heisman away, THEY SHOULD TAKE MIKE GARRETT’S HEISMAN AWAY!

Chill Dogg RTR

May 18th, 2010
7:24 pm

>>Denver Dog: “Bama go (sic) wrist slapping for what should have been death penalty infracdtions. (sic)”

Huh?? You need to read some history, dog. Bama was hurting for years from their punishment.

>>Bootsie: “O.J. was found INNOCENT. Maybe you missed it.”

Congratulations! Yours is the most ignorant, uninformed comment on this page – and that’s saying something! The jury in the criminal trial said he was “not guilty” (they don’t say “innocent”), despite the evidence, for racial reasons. That does not mean he was not guilty of killing two people. He was still guilty of that no matter what some stupid jury says.

BTW, the jury in the civil trial found him “Guilty” based on a “preponderance of the evidence”. Maybe you missed it.

Chill Dogg RTR

May 18th, 2010
7:29 pm

P.S. USC was not “co-champion” with LSU in 2003. LSU was the only champion because the BSC determines the official champion. AP and other polls don’t count anymore.


May 18th, 2010
8:17 pm

Can Auburn then self proclaim a NC like Bama has successfully done throughout history over a half dozen times ?

Gordito Mojito

May 19th, 2010
2:19 pm

The NCAA’s actions on U$C’s “Lack of Institutional Control” strikes at the very heart of its own viability. Like other political organizations, say the UN, it must exercise its authority or (like the UN) it will lose its authority as a viable governing body. Likewise for the Heisman Trust and BCS Committee.

What’s the value of any award or achievement if you know they cast a blind-eye at cheating? Like the Home Run record it’s a pyrrhic victory at best for those who cheat and a black eye on the sport as a whole.

The NCAA had better Hang’em or we’re spending a lot of money through alumni donations and football weekend based on politics rather than sport. In which case, they could save us all a ton of money and time by letting us know which team will win each year.


May 19th, 2010
2:58 pm

Delbert says: “USC is one of the most highly ranked academic institutions, just ahead of U. Mich. and UNC, and just behind UVA. That otherwise excellent institutions can allow careless, deceitful and corrupt activities is shameful.”

Delbert, USC cheats at EVERYTHING including submitting false information to inflate it’s academic rankings!! They are not the elite academic institution they proclaim to be but need to be viewed as such to maintain their very ambitious building/housing expansion. http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2009/06/08/usc

Cheating is at the very core of USC from President Sample on down. It is what they do. Period.

[...] —Tony Barhart wonders if Reggie Bush should lose his Heisman if found to be ineligible in 2005. [...]


May 19th, 2010
7:45 pm

Forrest Gump is the most famous Bama grad :

May 18th, 2010
8:22 am

Huh, cause if you could actually read you’d have noticed the records etc that I posted. Also, Florida fans care about FL being 0-2 against AU under Meyer.

Tim Tebow cries.

Uummm, actually, no Gator fans don’t really care about the Auburn thing at all; because, unlike Bama, we don’t play them every year anymore, and didn’t just lose 6 in a row to them like The Tide did between ‘02 and ‘07. In fact, those 2 games, in ‘06 and ‘07, are the only 2 games we’ve played against each other since 2002. I think it’s pretty safe to assume our ‘08 and ‘09 teams would have crushed AU like a grape if given the chance.

We used to face Auburn every year through that 2002 meeting, though, and in the previous 9 meetings, from ‘95 through ‘02, Florida was 8-1, with 7 wins in a row between ‘95 and ‘00, including a 29-6 win over them in the 2000 SECCG. So, losing a couple of games when your teams only meet every 4 years or so isn’t a big deal, and definitely pales in comparison to 7 losses in a row including a conference title game.

AU is now in the business of using UF castoffs to try and get relevant again. It might even work… former Gator quarterback, Cam Newton and former Gator linebacker, Chizik as coach may just be an improvement over recent AU teams. Even Tubby ended his tenure at AU with a 3-4 record against UF… probably why he always sounds like a jilted skank whenever he talks about UF in his lame interviews.

[...] Barnhart offers his take on what on the Reggie Bush [...]


May 21st, 2010
3:59 pm



May 23rd, 2010
3:14 pm

Should USC get the death penalty as a repeat violater, one of the options that the infractions comittee might hand down is that the coaching staff in place at the time of the violations could be subject to an NCAA ’show cause’ order. That would mean that any member institution would have to ’show cause’ in order to hire any of them for a specified number of penalty years. Since they were on probation for a major violation in 2001 and probation lasts for five years, they could be required to fire Lane Kiffin.


May 23rd, 2010
3:21 pm

The most deserving team was Auburn University.


May 23rd, 2010
3:58 pm

Buckhead Bulldog

May 23rd, 2010
6:51 pm

I do have to agree with my AU cousins on this one…The Auburn Tigers were THE BEST team, and deserved a shot the title. I was at the SECCG that year, and the AUt team was a brutal machine similiar to the Tide last year…..sorry for POff both AU and UA but it is my best comparison. Both teams were unstoppable. ESPN sucks!


May 23rd, 2010
7:51 pm

Seems to me that if they’ve done this to other programs, they should do the same to USC. Are they not held to the same rules as everyone else?


May 23rd, 2010
7:54 pm

I think I read that rules are for everybody and if the rules were broken then punishment should be given.


May 23rd, 2010
8:15 pm

If we find USC guity of cheating we will probably take some scholarships away from Alabama.


May 23rd, 2010
8:16 pm

The Death Penalty would be great for Kiddie Kiffin.


May 23rd, 2010
9:17 pm

I agree that USC should be punished for these infractions, if true; however, Auburn doesn’t necessarily deserve the title as a result. Reggie Bush was a very important piece in ‘04, but he wasn’t the focal point that he was in 2005. Realistically, USC would have won the title in 2004, with or without him. The DAC should strip him of his Heisman and USC should be placed on probation and monitored, but to start reassigning national championship trophies is probably not a good idea unless there is evidence of pervasive, program-wide infractions.

joe robby

May 24th, 2010
9:18 am

This is for “Tina” and “Obamanation”…….neither of you know NOTHING about what you are jabbering about. You’re using an article about Reggie Bush and USC to be hateful little pricks. You’re both small people that probably aren’t worth spitting on.

UGA paid its own price for the Jan Kemp era investigation. The NCAA had no jurisdiction, but UGA itself put our athletic programs at a disadvantage vs. the rest of the SEC by raising academic requirements for athletes beyond SEC minimums. Which is the biggest reason why UGA went 20 years without an SEC title. Because time after time we watched players who couldn’t get into UGA go to Auburn, FSU, Tennessee, Clemson, etc. and then play against UGA.

The Kemp investigation actually helped UGA because we brought in Dr. Knapp who got us focused on where we needed to be and that started the rise of UGA’s stature amongst public universities. Along with HOPE, UGA is recognized as one of the best.

Now you can hold UGA to task for its special admits. But then you would also have to hold to task 98% of the rest of the members of the NCAA.

Tina, your babbling about arrests means nothing. Except that you’re trying to read something into the situation that isn’t there. Instead of an investigation of UGA, you should get a life. One with a little more honesty and truth. Because if that’s what you were really concerened about, your spin on this might have more to do with Athens/UGA being a place where breaking the law is punishable instead of being covered up as it is at MANY other places instead of trying to blame the school for enforcing rules upon its athletes.


May 25th, 2010
5:39 pm

USC is fail and full of the AIDS.


May 30th, 2010
11:20 am

5 years and nothing happening other than a meeting with the NCAA. It seems like everyone is worried about litigation and what it would mean to the NCAA is they should lose a lawsuit.

Then there is the whole question about Congress and the BCS…. If I were the NCAA or BCS I would be a bit concerned about the pasture they are walking in…


May 31st, 2010
7:12 am

Its just been reported that the NCAA will finally announce what/if sanctions will be placed on USC this Friday (June 5)…Speculation says that any sanctions will be applied backward (loss of national title, wins, Heisman) and not forward (future bowl appearances).


June 7th, 2010
11:20 am

Its taken this long, so why not wait some more days?—–Its been reported that the NCAA will announced their rulings about USC sometime this week, and not Friday June 4, as previously mentioned.


June 10th, 2010
3:39 pm

Well, its FINALLY happened! As I write this the NCAA is ready to impose SEVERE sanctions on the USC football program. What a great day it is NOT to be a Trojan fan…