While there a more questions than answers in this whole sorted mess. A number of people that I have talked to have feelings that range from not surprised to shocked and dismayed. Many that I have talked to are more surprised that Reggie Bush would act this way when he showed us a completely different side publicly. While I am surprised that Reggie Bush is attached to this sort of story I'm not surprised that it happens at all.
As I have looked around some other sites the general tone is that there has to be some truth to this story. The classic Watergate term of "what did USC know and when did he know it" seems to be the general thoughts that people have. It is an important question and the answer will determine the future of the program.
This is not some Chicken Little the sky is falling panic mode that people are in. Fans truly are concerned about how bad this could get. And I'm not talking about giving back a Heisman Trophy or forfeiting a National Championship. The problems of this situation are on a go forward basis. We could lose scholarships, we could lose televised games and we could lose the chance to play in bowl games.
While I'm disgusted at this behavior I'm also not surprised. College athletics has had problems with boosters for years and the NCAA has been too slow to catch up. Now it's the agent's. When I read the story about the agents hanging around Heritage Hall I was a little surprised that they had that sort of access to just hang around and wait for players you it was a disaster in waiting. USC's open policy has allowed the perception to be made that this program isn't concerned about its reputation and that its anything goes.
Now, lets look at what some of the media are saying. Dan Shanoff on his blog writes:
About Reggie Bush:
I'd strip Bush of the trophy and give it to runner-up Vince Young. That's adding insult to injury. (And righting a wrong: The Rose Bowl proved that VY deserved the Heisman last year.)
I think that's legitimate. If Bush is ruled ineligible as the Heisman Bylaws state then he should be made to give it back. Of course his wanting to give it to Vince Young is self-righteous. Based on what I have read about Vince Young that time has passed in his eyes and that chapter is closed.
The most fascinating upshot? That makes Auburn your 2004 national champ. (Remember: Auburn was unbeaten and controversially left out of the BCS title game. They ended the season No. 2 in the final BCS rankings. If I was Auburn, I would start this p.r. campaign RIGHT NOW.)
Again, more self-righteous arrogance. Even if they pull the NC title, which I think is unlikely, installing Auburn, as the National Champion is ludicrous. Auburn wouldn't accept it and no one would accept Auburn if they did accept it. Of course that might not surprise many with state of things with the Auburn football program of late.
About the Coaches:
But I think it would be a mistake to let Pete Carroll off the hook, simply because he claims not to have known anything.
As the head of the program - its CEO, effectively - he is responsible for what happens. To think that he didn't keep tabs on his best player either shows remarkable willful negligence -- or remarkable willful stupidity. With either excuse, do you really want that guy coaching your team?
Some of this I said in my earlier post but this is the crux of the whole case. If a coach knew what was going on then SC is screwed in the worst way and it will go all the way to Mike Garrett. If it happens on your watch then you are responsible.
While I think he makes some good points I think Shanoff's tone of incredulity is self-serving, arrogant and smacks of having an axe to grind with Pete Carroll. Most of the other news organizations who have stories out on this pretty much say the same things but what would you expect them to say that what may have occurred is ok and is no big deal; that the NCAA doesn't really care if you break the rules, of course not.
My track record on these issues is pretty clear; keep the program clean and good character should always be the rule not the exception. I'm not interested in people burying their heads in the sand. I have seen on some other boards that these stories are really nothing new. You're kidding me right? I do not recall in any of the previous stories about agents having access to the locker room or that Ornstein provided financial help or that the someone on the coaching staff knew. I can assure you that, if true, this is new and explosive news and does not bode well for USC.
I am past caring about Reggie Bush. He's gone and he may have left a path of destruction in his wake. His decisions may have cost USC some of the prestige that they have worked so hard build over the past few decades. Some fans don't seem to get that. They also don't understand the potential ramifications. As I wrote on Cardinal and Gold earlier this summer:
I'm a huge SC fan but I can't accept players whose actions disrupt team chemistry or whose selfish actions will hurt the institution that gave them the chance to make millions only to have those actions make it tougher for future teams to come. I would rather not have won all that we have only to have it taken away because of selfishness.
This is exactly what may be happening here.