Reggie Bush is without a doubt one of the greatest players to play college football. His highlights were amazing to watch and to this day, still have people talking. From 2003-2005 Bush and the USC Trojans were must watch television. Unfortunately, if you look in the USC record books or look around the campus, Heritage Hall, Coliseum, and the McKay Center, you will see no pictures of Bush or any of his accolades that he earned.
In 2010 the NCAA ruled that Bush and his family received improper benefits while at USC, and slammed the football program with harsh penalties that included the loss of 30 scholarships, a two year bowl ban, and vacating 14 wins. That led to the loss of their 2004 BCS National Championship. USC was also forced to disassociate itself from Bush, which meant all of his records, images, and likenesses had to be erased. USC also has to refuse him sideline access to games and practices.
In an article written by Arash Markazi of the LA Times, Bush stated that he hopes the NCAA will allow him to return to USC and that he still loves the university no matter what has happened. He hopes to one day take his wife and kids to the school where he made history. The last appearance Bush made that was related to USC, was the 2015 Pac-12 Championship, where Bush was honored as a part of the conference all-century team. He also was allowed into the USC locker room to greet the players before the game.
In the article, Markazi also dropped some key information that made Bush’s situation even more interesting. USC made several attempts to appeal the permanent disassociation of Bush and were denied multiple times. Through time, many believed it was USC that wouldn’t allow Bush to return to the program, when it was really the NCAA that was upholding the ban.
It has been nine years since the sanctions and USC is finally clear of the harsh punishment. It is now time for the NCAA to turn the page and drop the permanent ban of Bush from USC.
Since the USC sanctions, other scandals have come to light, to the point where it made the Bush scandal look very small. Back in 2002, former Michigan Basketball star Webber was indicted on five charges, which included lying to a grand jury for misrepresenting his relationship with Michigan booster Ed Martin. The NCAA forced Michigan to disassociate from former NBA All-Star Chris Webber for 10 years. This past season the NCAA allowed Webber to return to the university after those 10 years. Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh invited Webber to join the team as an honorary captain before that game.
Many USC fans can use the Michigan and Webber scandal as an argument towards the NCAA reinstating Bush is the fact that a Michigan booster provided Webber with improper benefits. Webber also lied to a federal grad jury to make matters worse. With Bush, no USC booster provided any improper benefits towards Bush himself. The real violation was that Bush’s family was provided a house, rent free along with other benefits from a couple of sports agents during the time Bush was playing at USC. There was also no real concrete evidence that Bush took any improper benefits while he was playing at USC. It was also proven that the NCAA had malicious intent to harshly punish the Trojans and used former USC running backs coach Todd McNair, to further punish the program.
If the NCAA can allow someone to return after actually committing a violation, then they should allow for USC to bring Bush back. Again after nine years, it’s time to turn the page.
The impact of Bush is still felt to this day. There are many USC fans who still wear his No. 5 jersey to football games or around campus. Other fans have shared how Bush was the reason they started watching college football and even voiced that the former Heisman Trophy winner should be allowed back to USC. Not to mention, he has had an impact on numerous current and past college football players, such as cornerback Adoree Jackson and the late Joe McKnight who have stated that they both looked up to Bush.
With his current position at Fox Sports as a college football analyst, it could be possible that Bush makes his return to the Coliseum and the program, however it’ll be under the basis of the NCAA. Many former teammates, past USC football legends, and even players from other teams, have made the call for the NCAA to allow Bush to return to USC. He wants to be around to help young players with anything that they need and at this rate, given the current state of the university and program, that wouldn’t be a bad idea if allowed.
It’s a continuous black cloud and travesty that one of the greatest college football players is banned from a legendary program like USC. It is time for the NCAA to finally lift the ban and allow for USC to honor the legendary running back that dazzled fans’ eyes.
Having Bush around the program could help a university that has been seen under a negative light this past year. It would also officially turn a page on a sanction that has been served long after it should have been lifted.
The time to allow Bush back to USC is now.
The right thing to do is to turn the page and allow No. 5 and USC to be reunited in the Coliseum.