USC Trojan Football: The burning of the Bush
By Stephanie Sommer
The empire of Trojan football was called into question this past summer, when the evidence mounted that running back Reggie Bush received financial benefits from prospective agents. From 2001-2009, the University of Southern California regained its status as an elite football powerhouse. The investigation that had been in progress for years finally yielded evidence confirming that
Bush did, in fact, receive financial benefits in violation of NCAA rules. Bush and his family were well aware of the regulations, but ignored them, leaving the Trojans quite a mess to clean up.
Due to this direct violation, the Trojan's were hit with a two-year ban on post-season games, placed on four years of probation, lost 30 scholarships, and were forced to forfeit their 2004 victories. The Heisman trophy Bush won in 2004 after the Trojans' national championship is has also been stripped.
New USC Athletic Director, Pat Haden, quoted Bush in a recent article by USA Today, "He told me, ‘If I could turn the clock back, I would. If I could give the Heisman Trophy back, I would,'" But Haden said he never once has heard an open apology." He later continued, " I would say it was a conversation of him being contrite, not an apology." The question is, in whose lap does this violation lie in? Should the institution be penalized for the impatient acts of an ambitious college athlete?
The higher you are the harder the fall. For an empire such as the USC Trojans, a hit like this caused their program to have a difficult fall. This punishment seems unfair in that it is an overreaction due to the success of the program. This penalty was enforced to prove and emphasize a point, rather than just a mere enforcement. Now I understand rules are rules and if not enforced all respect and structure will be lost. Technically, the ruling may be just, but why punish a school for something one man did? Yes, together we stand, united we fall, but there is a point of personal responsibility; why strip a program of its pride, students of their scholarships, athletes of their dreams and staff of their jobs? Why should everyone suffer for one man's deliberate act?
L.A. Times reporter, Bill Plaschke, suggested in his September report, "Instead of being remembered as an arrogant villain stripped of the most famous award in the sport, he can be remembered as a flawed human being who had the dignity to admit he didn't deserve it." Bush needs to step down from his high horse and accept the responsibility for the chaos he has brought upon the Trojans.
The NCAA saw this as an opportunity to prove a point on a large scale. If USC had not been such a football powerhouse, this violation would not have been so harshly carried out. Sure, you may say that's a speculation, but think about it rationally. No post-season games for current seniors who were looking for their chance to shine, incoming athletes counting on the scholarships because they cannot afford the $50,000+ yearly tuition, and the athletes who played the 2004 season and fought for their victories. How is this fair?
Some may insist this punishment is well deserved and Bush and the Trojans deserve to pay, but the punishment seems excessive. In an interview with USA Today, Lane Kiffin told reporters, "We've got to many good things going on here, with this team and what they're doing this upcoming season. Unfortunately, we end up talking about the past a lot. I'm moving forward." In his L.A. Times article, Bill Plaschke proposed an idea for Bush to try and fix what he tore apart, "While Bush is currently banned from associating with the Trojans, he can nonetheless plant his flag in their future by being the only Trojan willing to sacrifice his past."
The acceptance of the "extra benefits" of Bush, took away the benefits of being a Trojan for past and future players.