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

Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

May 17th, 2010
8:23 am

NCAA needs to clear across the board- if they damaged Bama and punished them, then the same needs to go for USC. And now with Kiffin as HC, expect more sanctions to follow.

Pago Pago Dawg

May 17th, 2010
8:29 am

They gave SMU the “death penalty” for a lot less!! SMU still trying to get back to normal….

DawginLex

May 17th, 2010
8:35 am

FBR

May 17th, 2010
8:37 am

In essence, you have an ineligible player playing on an ineligible team. The National Championship and Bush’s Heisman trophy should be taken back—If found guilty—if not, it will diminish the meaning and spirit of both awards.

JOHN BON GRAVY

May 17th, 2010
8:37 am

HELLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLZ YA!

Beast from the East

May 17th, 2010
8:38 am

I say they should take back the Heisman and the BCS trophy if they are guilty. I also beilve that USC should be hit with “lack of institutional control” because of the OJ Mayo issue that goes along with this. It appears they cheated and have yet to suffer the consequences. It’s a shame the current players are the ones that get punished with no bowl appearances, etc. I don’t mind that Kiffin will suffer, because if ANYONE deserves to get hosed, it’s him after what he did up at UT. What comes around goes around!

Da Coach

May 17th, 2010
8:38 am

Seriuosly, who in their right mind needs (5) years to figure this out?

Beast from the East

May 17th, 2010
8:39 am

Sorry….believe not beilve!

RAPIN_Bergers

May 17th, 2010
8:40 am

Beast from the East

May 17th, 2010
8:41 am

Da Coach, I’m with you. I guess they’re just as elusive over there in California as Bin Laden is in the Middle East!

Rudy

May 17th, 2010
8:41 am

The only way USC gets in hot water is if they could prove they knew what was going on with Bush. They aren’t linked to the two “gentleman”. Now McKnight’s case adds a potential pattern to this issue of kids getting money from outsiders. When you combine both I think the NCAA could look at some schollies but I doubt anything major will happen here since Bush settled and never had to testify.

Alphare

May 17th, 2010
8:47 am

But in Southern Cal, you cannot buy a text book with $300,000.

Gatorbait 17-3

May 17th, 2010
8:47 am

Sock it to em!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

phil

May 17th, 2010
8:51 am

Come on folks, ain’t nothing gonna happen to usc! a slap on the wrist, maybe. alabama, what are they gonna whine about? If they do, the sanctions committe will come back and investigate them. alabama better stay quiet on this one. It’s all about money and power, and usc has both.

L. Bo

May 17th, 2010
8:54 am

take it away. take that BS co-championship from 03 away too.

NoGaGator

May 17th, 2010
8:56 am

Between the basketball and Football programs, it certainly appears that there is a “lack of institutional control” going on at USC and it starts at the top.

Mike Garrett was the AD who hired Pete Carroll, Tim Floyd, and now, Loser Lane. I wonder how many violations he and his henchmen Wild Boyzz have already committed. Perhaps even worsei was Garrett throwing the Basketball program under the bus in an attempt to reduce the upcoming penalties on his beloved football program.

The NCAA needs to drop a heavy hammer on USC. Before doing that however, they should privately provide USC’s president an option where the penalties are less if Garrett is fired asap.

Gen Neyland

May 17th, 2010
8:56 am

Hmm, I can only imagine the many fingers poised, waiting to hammer away at Wikipedia…Aside from that, we sports fans are a blood-thirsty bunch that love to see anybody but our own bleed. Here’s to hoping the NCAA takes a 125 year old investigation into a 125 year probation for USCwest…

KR

May 17th, 2010
8:59 am

To me, the punishment is simple:

All USC wins during the time frame that Bush was a part of the team should be vacated. USC gets the same sanctions that Alabama got.

The BCS should advise USC that their 2004 Championship has been nullified and demand return of the crystal football. Failure to return the trophy will be grounds for exclusion from all future BCS bowls.

The Heisman Trophy folks should remove Bush’s name from their rolls and advise him that he will never be allowed to participate in any of their events ever again. He should also be banned from using the word “Heisman” in any way related to himself.

Of course, this is all dependent on evidence of guilt.

Call IT

May 17th, 2010
9:00 am

Sure if they cheated, but at this point, who cares as this will not impact USC since that season is long over?

Ya know?

Enough Said!

P-Man

May 17th, 2010
9:03 am

I’ll be surprised if anything happens at all. Either there won’t be enough “evidence”, or it’ll just be a slap on the wrist. Even if they are found guilty, USC will not be as severely punished as any team from the South would be.

XpatHeel

May 17th, 2010
9:03 am

ACC trumps $ec w/ new ESPN agreement. Read it here…http://www.sportsbusinessjournal.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=article.preview&articleid=65729

Now, back to what you were blathering about…oh yea…the real USC getting put in the slammer. So much for the value of a Pac 10 – Big 12 marriage.

Eric

May 17th, 2010
9:05 am

Absolutely! And send that championship trophy to Auburn, where it belongs!

Bulldog59

May 17th, 2010
9:06 am

If proven at fault, Tony’s suggestion for Bush works well, keep the statue, just don’t come around us anymore.

For USC, if proven at fault, implement NCAA sanctions against USC.

For the BCS Title….”Taking” the title, “vacating” wins, who cares. Have the old fashion “*” by the title and footnote that USC was later put on probation, etc.

What else can you do?

JB

May 17th, 2010
9:14 am

Biggest difference in Southern Cal and Football in the South…..they are looking for reasons to find and punish the SEC because they know the passion in the South and how ALL schools push the limits…… But Southern Cal UNDER PETE CARROLL was the golden team, the favorite, the one team the NCAA wanted to be the shining program on the hill. It’s killing them to expose all this and stain that program. By all accounts I’ve read, they cheated. Now, who knows, but they wouldn’t have to look hard or far.

GEEZ

May 17th, 2010
9:17 am

OMG, your asking these dogpoops..of course take it all away from USC..only UGAY is allowed to cheat

Kevin Bacon

May 17th, 2010
9:19 am

Should Reggie Bush and his momma be deservedly punished, some public figure will look into the television cameras and with a straight face link said punishment to the Saints, the Super Bowl, the Super Dome, New Orleans, levees breaking, Hurricane Katrina, George Bush (no relation), and racism.

For you People magazine readers the headline is “Kim’s Revenge”.

uga_b

May 17th, 2010
9:20 am

If they are found guilty, I think ESPN should do a bunch of shows claiming they are still the best team ever. Also, the NCAA should add wins to them instead of vacating them because clearly this was a distraction that kept them from winning. I also think the rest of us should be forced to pay all of their legal expenses because it is so cool Snoop Dogg likes them.

Special K

May 17th, 2010
9:22 am

Something should happen but it won’t. The only teams to get hammered by the ncaa are in the south.

5IML

May 17th, 2010
9:23 am

Knowing the cyclical nature of college football, the NCAA waited for USC to start a downward turn before completing the investigation. Whatever penalty USC receives really won’t make a difference since they are heading back into mediocrity anyway. Great timing, NCAA!

Richham

May 17th, 2010
9:24 am

Absolutely! I don’t care what anyone says, Bush was a one man recking crew while he was on the field. He was the best player no matter who they played and directly responsible for them winning a bunch of games.

SaintsLSU

May 17th, 2010
9:26 am

I have never liked USC. Not solely based on the ‘03 split NC w/ LSU, but that is sure part of it. They need to be hammered just like everyone else would. Don’t get me wrong, I love what Reggie does for my Saints, but if a violation was made then it must be done. He seems like the person that it would not bother him to be banished from Heisman ceremonies anyway. Still glad to have him on the Saints regardless.

Tony, you said USC can’t be stripped of it’s 2004 BCS NC, but since LSU won the BCS in ‘03, can USC be stripped of the ‘03 AP NC? Assuming USC is found guilty of everything?

Richham

May 17th, 2010
9:26 am

The really funny part of this is what does Lame Kiffin do now? Oh it would be too funny to watch him bolt another school.

Maybe he’s decided to be a politician and run for president.

Richham

May 17th, 2010
9:28 am

oh and before the typo police get on here i see that i misspelled recking…I mean wrecking.

Miles

May 17th, 2010
9:31 am

Question #1: Bush’s Heisman Trophy should be taken from him. Question #2: USC’s National Championship should be taken from them. Mr. Barnhart, why do you take such a nonchalant and blase stance on these ethical issues? This sort of crap is precisely what tarnishes the great game of college football. Do you truly love the game?

GTville

May 17th, 2010
9:32 am

If he took money, it did not change his physical makeup…he was still an athlete and assumed to be free from steriods, so he won his award on the field and should keep it.

As far as the team’s national championship, taking it away is really meaningless. The records would show a blank space for the year with an asterisk stating USC won but then forfieted….so in otherwords, they won it.

The result should be for USC to implement better controls. Kifffin knows the rules and will push the limits in all cases, so the USC President and academic arm of the school should be forced to feel the pressure and implement changes. Scholarships should be lost for 4 years and other contols.

Either way, if you are an athlete and cheat the rules, you stand to gain a lot of money in the NFL. If your school and future atheletes suffer the consequences, too bad for them. You win, they lose. There is really no way to shame or punish the star.

Lame Kiffin

May 17th, 2010
9:34 am

Reggie, Who?

Charlie Bama

May 17th, 2010
9:36 am

I say throw the book at ‘em. If Alabama can eat the unfairness (or some degree of it, for sure), so can a fancy pants west coast program. The fact that this investigation has taken soooo long tells me the NCAA is way too hesitant to do the right thing. It’s open komono time, gents! Lets us see the real you.

george

May 17th, 2010
9:41 am

if O J simpson did not lose his heisman for murdering 2 people I highly doubt bush will lose his.

Chuck

May 17th, 2010
9:49 am

It’s the NCAA, so what they should do and what they will do are two drastically different things.

They should force USC to vacate their wins for that season. That will force the BCS to strip their title from them. They should also put them on three years probation with a loss of scholarships. USC showed a lack of institutional control in not researching Bush’s relationship with these agents when it was first reported.

What the NY Downtown Athletic Club does with his Heisman Trophy is up to them.

Denver Dog

May 17th, 2010
9:52 am

They are part of the protected group. Bama, Ohio State, Notre Dame. Bama go wrist slapping for what should have been death penalty infracdtions. FSU got nothing for what it did. Ohio and Notre Dame don’t even get a look. It is all about the money. Ask SMU grads about why Texas got SMU in trouble, and you will see why there will be nothing really done to USC. I think that a man.boy named Kiffin was involved in those early recruiting days at USC. Imagine that?

Obamination

May 17th, 2010
9:52 am

This self-righteous blather from “Mr. SEC” is a joke.

What Jan Kemp exposed at UGA was much worse.

UGA deliberately engaged in institutionally-sanctioned academic
fraud that was sponsored and facilitated by people employed at UGA,
including the President.

Its one thing when agents and boosters corrupt college athletics.

Its an entirely more damning situtation when its the
university itself sponsoring and facilitating all of the corruption.

Perhaps, the NCAA should strip UGA of its 1980 title since that happened during the years that Jan Kemp documented that academic fraud was rampant.

But hey, you’ll never hear that from Barnhart.

Afterall, we’re talking about “Mr. SEC” here.

John H. Davidson

May 17th, 2010
9:55 am

DEATH PENALTY!! If it was good enouth for SMU, it is good enough for USC. Q–What is the difference between Craig James/Eric Dickerson and Reggie Bush?? A–There is no difference. So, NCAA has a solid precedent here — death penalty.

Bank CEO

May 17th, 2010
9:57 am

Ha, that’s nothing.

We’re still committing fraud worse than that every single day.

We run this state, and country.

Lady Ga Ga Gator

May 17th, 2010
9:59 am

This would not have taken so long if Coach Spurrier was still at Florida. He took down Alabama with Travis Carroll’s help.

Alphare

May 17th, 2010
10:00 am

BAMA was in trouble mainly because of TN, is it true?

Which school is taking on SoCal? None as I know of.

Denver Dog

May 17th, 2010
10:01 am

Way to go obamination, pull UGA into the USC pay to play controversy. I think UGA did the time for the remedial class thing 25 years ago, 4 ACC schools are reeling from acadmic fraud in the last 2 years, inlcuding Ga Tech. So let’s address the pay for play at USC, which is what this case is about. Not just football, but all sports at USC. Again, ask SMU about it

Tech Fan Since 1950

May 17th, 2010
10:02 am

“NCAA doesn’t award national championships in Division I-A football.” What a farce, since the NCAA awards championships in all the other sports and divisions including football. The BCS continues to be a fraud as it is full of deception and trickery. Shame on the NCAA for letting such a system exist. Talk about an investigation!

richtfan

May 17th, 2010
10:02 am

if they’ve taken this long, then there is likely a lot there. the ncaa should nut up and strip them of the title. if there is even one small bit of evidence that makes this worse than what Bama did, then USC should get the death penalty. However, I doubt that the ncaa has the guts to do that. they see kiffin and company as a cash cow and would not want to damage that program regardless what infractions it had committed.

1 Star

May 17th, 2010
10:02 am

Bush cheated, yes.

But just exactly how did USC cheat?

Coach Cool

May 17th, 2010
10:05 am

Hmmm… #5 cheated at USC when he was in school?

Now former Trojan Brian Cushing gets pinched for PEDs?

Cheatin @ Southern Cal??

REALLY??