Commentary

Reggie Bush's gesture empty

Updated: September 15, 2010, 12:16 PM ET
By Ivan Maisel | ESPN.com

The 2005 Heisman Trophy belongs to no one, which is pretty silly, because I know who owns two of them.

If I'm the Heisman Trust's delivery guy, I'm beginning to get a little annoyed. Every time they send out a trophy with Reggie Bush's name, it comes back. That makes double the work. Two months ago, one came back from Heritage Hall on the USC campus. On Tuesday, Bush announced from New Orleans that his copy of the most famous trophy in American sports would be making a round trip, too.

So Bush committed this act of gallantry, and on the very day that the board of trustees that controls the Heisman met. It is very possibly a coincidence that these two events converged. It is also possible that New Mexico will play in the BCS championship game. The Heisman Trust provided the sword. Bush fell on it. He resigned before the trust fired him, which is the way such affairs are conducted.

Between USC and Bush, the Heisman Trust now has an overstocked warehouse. The way things are going, Heismans are going to start showing up at dollar stores. On the other hand, Jostens, which casts these iconic pieces of Americana, may be laying off workers as we speak. The American economy just can't catch a break.

Pardon my inability to take this stripping of rank seriously. Bush's gesture is as empty as the last four years of his answers. He denied wrongdoing until the NCAA napalmed the USC football program. Bush called athletic director Pat Haden to express, I don't know, something. Whatever Bush said, Haden put out a statement to make clear that Bush didn't express an apology. To this day, Bush has not explained what happened.

[+] EnlargeReggie Bush
Kevin Leahy/US PresswireReggie Bush will always own the 2005 season.

And now Bush announces that he is returning the Heisman because of "persistent media allegations dating back to my years at USC." Allegations? Media allegations? The NCAA pretty well established that Bush and his family took a substantial amount of improper benefits.

Bush said in his statement that he wants to work with the trustees of the Heisman "to establish an educational program which will assist student-athletes avoid some of the mistakes that I made." Reggie, please refer to the previous paragraph in your statement. Surely you meant "alleged mistakes."

Bush's misdeeds at USC don't warrant righteous indignation. His dissembling since he left does. (It's always the coverup, isn't it?)

I suppose the only way that Bush actually will own up to the rules he broke is if David Frost offers to pay him for four nights of interviews. Sweetheart, get me Michael Sheen's agent on Line 1. Early gossip for the other lead in Frost/Bush centers on Dulé Hill of "Psych" and Michael B. Jordan of "Friday Night Lights."

Others suggest that the role of Reggie Bush should be filled by Vince Young, the Texas quarterback who finished second to Bush in the 2005 Heisman voting. Giving Young the Heisman is a bad idea, and not just because he wasn't the best player in the nation that year.

For one thing, that trophy would look funny with an asterisk on it. For another, those who want Bush to pay for his misdeeds should realize that giving Young the Heisman would lessen Bush's humiliation. As long as the record books read "Vacated," Bush will be remembered.

Some of us remember that no player in the last 25 years has electrified a college football game the way that Bush did week after week in 2005. That season always will belong to him. Unlike those home run hitters who revived baseball a decade ago, Bush's wrongdoing had no effect on the games that he played, the runs that he made, the ankles that he broke on the opposing team. That's why I think stripping him of the Heisman is a hollow gesture.

Of course, the Heisman Trust didn't strip Reggie Bush of the 2005 Heisman Memorial Trophy. It will simply sign for it when the nation's most recognizable doorstop shows up at the door. The delivery guy in downtown Manhattan isn't happy. In the end, nobody is.

Ivan Maisel is a senior writer for ESPN.com and hosts the ESPNU College Football podcast. Send your questions and comments to him at Ivan.Maisel@ESPN.com.

Ivan Maisel | email

Senior Writer, ESPN.com

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