July 25, 2010

Roundtable: Should Bush keep his Heisman?

At the College Football Roundtable each week, we ask members of the coverage staff for their opinions about a topic in the sport.

TODAY'S QUESTION: USC has returned Reggie Bush's Heisman. In your eyes, is he still the Heisman winner from 2005?

Olin Buchanan's answer:
I thought Vince Young should have won the Heisman in '05, but I certainly didn't have a problem when Bush won. He, too, was deserving. But now that USC has returned the replica of his trophy in the wake of the scandal, I think it definitely raises a legitimate question of whether the Heisman Trust should take his trophy and remove his name from the list of winners. In a perverse way, taking the trophy away from Bush would make his winning more memorable. It's common knowledge that Vanessa Williams was Miss America and had her title stripped. Do you remember who replaced her? Besides, I doubt Bush is the only Heisman recipient to have received illegal benefits; he just got caught. That said, I could understand and respect the Trust's decision if they opted to disassociate Bush from the trophy.

Tom Dienhart's answer:
Yes. I don't think he should vacate the award. Any extra benefits Bush received had no impact on how he performed on the field. He made all of those wondrous moves, cuts and runs on his own. I saw it. You saw it. We all saw it. The guy was the best college football player in the nation in 2005. History can't erase that. Taking the trophy away from Bush is just a symbolic gesture.

David Fox's answer:
USC returning Reggie Bush's Heisman is a wholly ceremonial action, a way to acknowledge publicly the shame of the NCAA violations. I can't condone what Bush did or the way USC was willfully ignorant about the whole thing, but returning the Heisman can't take away what I saw with my own eyes in 2005. Bush simply was one of the best players of the decade, and 2005 was one of the best individual seasons of the decade. I mean, Bush averaged 8.7 yards per carry and rushed for 1,740 yards on a team that included Matt Leinart, LenDale White, Dwayne Jarrett and Steve Smith. We'll always have the debates of who should have won the Heisman that season (Vince Young maybe?), but Bush won it and he deserved it. I'm not going to give into revisionist history.

Mike Huguenin's answer:
While the Heisman Trust is within its rights to remove his name from the list of winners for what he did off the field, Bush won the award for what he did on the field and nothing can change that. Taking the Heisman away is like the NCAA forcing a team to "vacate" a win, and you simply can't erase what happened. Bush won the Heisman, and nothing -- hyperventilating from some media types, removing his name from the list of winners, returning the trophy -- changes that.

Steve Megargee's answer:
There are two ways to answer this question. In one respect, this move seems similar to when the NCAA decides to force a team to vacate victories. You can't turn back time or erase someone's memories. USC may have returned Reggie Bush's Heisman, but it's not as though I'm suddenly going to forget Bush's brilliant 2005 season or that year's Heisman ceremony. On the other hand, I think just about anyone who watched the Rose Bowl that season realizes Texas QB Vince Young was the more deserving Heisman Trophy winner, whether or not he actually got his hands on the trophy. In my eyes, Young always will be the best player from the 2005 season because of what he showed on the field in a head-to-head matchup with Bush's team. If USC officials want to return Bush's Heisman, perhaps they should send it to Austin.


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