OVERTIME | Bush still a great player despite Heisman controversy

Reggie Bush made history last week when he forfeited his 2005 Heisman Trophy after speculation that it would be stripped from him due to allegations that he had accepted thousands of dollars in gifts from California marketing agents.

The Heisman he won as the starting running back at the University of Southern California was the first to be vacated in the history of the award.

Bush is a prime example of a collegiate athlete calling into question his amateur status. Amateur status means playing without financial compensation, and violations are a serious problem in college athletics. A majority of the time, guilty programs are getting caught after the fact or not at all.

Because Bush was recently ruled to have been technically ineligible in 2005, USC’s victories for that season and participation in the national championship game have been vacated. Also, the program is now on two years of probation and has lost 30 football scholarships over three years.

USC has had to take the brunt of Bush’s alleged poor decision, and it is unfair for all of the student-athletes, administration and fans.

What Bush did was wrong and it is only right that his Heisman is gone.

However, none of that

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will negate the incredible player that he was and it is a shame that his career has been tainted.

Allegations against Bush first came out in 2006, soon after the New Orleans Saints drafted him with the second overall pick in the NFL Draft.

Since then, Bush has been candid regarding the details of the allegations, but he has always maintained that they are false.

When Bush won the award in 2005, he had one of the greatest seasons in college football history. He ran for 1,740 yards and 18 touchdowns.

These are the things for which I will remember Bush.

When talking about Bush, I will always be thinking about his speed, his athleticism and his participation in the 2006 Rose Bowl.

In the game, Texas defeated USC 41-38 in overtime. I believe it to be the best college football game ever played.

Bush won the Heisman by the second largest margin in Heisman voting history, ahead of former Texas quarterback and current Tennessee Titans starter Vince Young.

Bush also received 933 votes, the third most in the 72 years the award has been offered.

He was obviously the best player in the country that year and deserved the award.

Whether or not the award was vacated, Bush will always be the 2005 Heisman Trophy winner in my mind.

He has since won a Super Bowl ring and signed a contract worth millions of dollars: two things that might make this entire ordeal a little more bearable for him.

I believe that Bush gave away the award because the situation was annoying and was a distraction.

He is on record as saying that he did not want the Heisman Trophy to lose the “dignity of the award.”

USC’s new athletic director, Pat Haden, had already returned the Heisman from USC’s trophy case, and their wins have all been vacated.

The trophy that Bush could have kept would only be a constant reminder of the downfall of one of the nation’s best college football careers. In his three years at USC, the team won 34 straight games, two national titles and was a national runner-up.

If there is something positive to take from this incident, it would have to be that none of the sanctions imposed on USC were related to on-field action.

Improper benefits are against the rules, but nothing that they did gave them an unfair advantage on the field.

The USC teams that Reggie Bush played on will forever be some of the best college football teams to have stepped on the gridiron.

Five years later, they are known as a tainted team because they broke the rules, but I remember them more for what they did on the field and their resilience during that amazing national championship game against Texas.

How people remember Bush’s collegiate career is a choice: they can choose to remember his career as nothing less than spectacular, or they can remember him as a cheater off the field.

I will choose to see him as the special player that he was and still is.

Yes, what he did was wrong, and his actions are affecting the school now, but I am a sucker for great athletes.

I can’t help but be a fan of the former Trojan and I hope that three years from now, when USC is back to being a fully functioning program, Bush will be remembered as a legend and not as the cheater who gave back his Heisman Trophy.

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