On the Prospect of Retroactive Penalties


If you’re over on Yahoo! Sports today, you’ll probably run into their “Reggie Bush Exclusive” roadblock. In it, you’ll hear all sorts of supposedly accurate (they must be true if they spelled out values down to the cent) figures about how much Reggie Bush and his family took from various shady agent-type figures during his tenure at USC. And if your luck is real bad, you’ll even stumble onto Dan Wetzel’s enthusiastic cries for USC’s 2004 title to be stripped, to make an example (b/c that’s worked so well in the past, just ask Michigan and UMass and all the teams that “learned their lessons” after they were retroactively punished) of the Trojans.

We’ve got a game tomorrow, and thus don’t want to spend a ton of time today enumerating all of our problems with the latest salvo from Yahoo’s team of crack investigative journalists. But Trojan fans everywhere, we encourage you to take these words from Will Leitch over at Deadspin to heart:

We know Michigan lost one of its Final Fours, or something similar, but only in some book somewhere; we don’t know who took their spot, and since we were watching, they won it in our memory, which is the only thing that really matters in the sports world. USC fans can scare themselves, but it’s not real: Even if Reggie Bush received money and they take away hardware and fictional titles, it still all happened, and you still all enjoyed it. Honest.

And just for the record, even if it meant USC getting another trophy in its case, you’ll never catch us calling for Texas to forfeit a title; even if Vince received a million bucks in agent money or they did something crazy like start a drug dealer in the National Championship game.

If They Take Away Reggie Bush’s Heisman, Did It Really Happen? [Deadspin]

Kyle Bunch

Partnerships for R/GA Ventures. Raised in California, adopted by Texas. Opinions expressed here are mine and they are fantastic.

16 thoughts on “On the Prospect of Retroactive Penalties

  1. I will preface this all by saying I’m a definite anti-USC fan.
    On the surface, you’re right, nobody will know who actually won if SC’s accomplishments are wiped from the record books. They’ll still be in our minds. I, for one, will still call the ND game a loss (since I’m an Irish fan). But, if this is true (and it’s looking worse and worse), no amount of pretending will make it better. It will be Reggie Bush and, by extension, USC cheating. The implications will be bad enough; any sanctions that could be handed down will be VERY bad news (see, “Michigan Men’s Basketball, Last 8 Years or So”).
    Let me end by saying that I don’t write this as an Irish fan. I don’t even write it as a Trojan-hater. I write it as a Cubs fan. Ok, I’ll wait until you’re done laughing.
    I remember sitting in the bleachers while haters jeered Sammy with the dreaded “S”-word. I shrugged it off and just kept cheering on my icon. Well, it sucks when you finally sober up to the reality that your icon was just a lame cheater. Like steriods back then, this whole agent/money thing is bigger than people realize. I’m sure people will read this comment and try to distinguish b/w drugs an money. No. They’re both cheating and, no matter what you think, one they’ve reared their head, they’ll both bite you in the ass. Take it from me.

  2. Why take it from you? B/c you’re a Cubs fan? Sweet.

    Two things totally refute your whole comment:

    1.) Michigan basketball started sucking WELL before they faced retroactive penalties for the likes of Chris Webber.

    2.) Sammy Sosa’s cheating DIRECTLY HELPED HIM PLAY BETTER. Reggie Bush’s meant that his family lived in a nicer house and wore some bad-ass suits to his Heisman Trophy ceremony.

    Trying to draw direct comparisons between the after-effects of Webberdom at Michigan and Sammy Sosa is a desperate attempt to make this more than it is. Furthermore, it totally undermines the entire discussion of the rules and what happened here. Rules may have been broken — rules that fall under the same lines as curfew and whether or not a player can have a job. Do you talk about teams who play players who missed curfew as cheaters? That’s just ridiculous. Cheating has to do with advantages that help you WIN a game. Reggie Bush was a stud who could do all the things he did well before anybody started trying to pay for his shit. The comparison you make is mealy-mouthed bullshit.

    Compare it to Ohio State and Maurice Clarett if you like….even though Reggie isn’t nearly that crazy. But that’s the only recent NCAA “scandal” that measures up to what’s happened here — and if the NCAA’s actions there are any indication, yes, this will completely go away and people will forget about it entirely.

  3. So childish! I used to like reading Dan’s column – but he has proven to be a hawk. And writing so much about taking away the title stinks of jealousy. Now, is it someone else’s jealousy spilling over through his words, or his own?

  4. yes, the NC and heisman still happened. true, nothing will change that fact.

    the real question, however, is if you as a trojan fan will remain proud of that accomplishment if it proves to have been achieved under the veil of improprieties. i should hope not.

  5. You’re right ???, we’ll be forced to hang our head in shame. In fact, it might get SO bad that we’ll resort to traveling the web, cowardly commenting anonymously on other people’s message boards.

  6. Exactl that I thought you’d say. Does accepting a CAR really compare to being late to curfew? I mean, really? Welcome to the “Barry Bonds” phase of your fandom. You know, the one where you blindly support your preferred team despite substantial evidence that it knowingly broke a rule stipulating that professional atheletes (you know, those ones that accept monetary compensation for the performance/noteriety in a particular sport) are banned from competing? That little pesking thing. The one that apparently compares to a “player [having] a job”. Yeah, those are close. Good argument. $100,000=staying out past bed time. Well, sign ME up.
    Noone said you had to hang your head in shame. Only that it’s becoming increasingly apparent to even the most casual observer that you’re team broke some major rules. Some might argue, the biggest rule in AMATEUR sports.
    Say what you want about Sosa “playing better”, nothing about his accomplishments carry any weight now. And it’s unfortunate that your blind allegiance keeps you from seeing the simple facts. Namely, that USC’s apparent lack of/care for institutional control likely led to them fielding a “professional” athelete. You see, you accept money and special benefits for playing football and you’re no longer an amateur. And, when amateur teams field professional atheletes, they are said to gain an advantage. Some might argue that, without the money, Reggie would have gone elsewhere. Thus, causing USC to play WORSE. See how that works?
    As for trolling the “cowardly” (nice use of Dan Wetzelian adjective) the web to make anonymous posts. I wanted to see if you, like Cardinals/Red Tide/Cubs/Giants fans would choose to vilify the messenger(s) and not the transgressors.

  7. You know what? The facts are the facts. I’m not so sure that the Yahoo! reports are trustworthy. There is ongoing NCAA investigation that will have to sort out the facts and the politics and all that. If the NCAA finds anything, history suggests that they will detail it enough that we can be sure it’s true.

    There are two things in my mind that stick about Reggie last year just after all the great highlights and the Heisman. One is his Mom being interviewed during the UCLA game saying Reggie was definitely going pro. I thought it was out of line and suggestive of a parent that’s looking to get paid, and frankly, it was ominous. Looking back, it’s entirely consistent with the Griffins being mixed up in all sorts of crap that Reggie may not have been aware of. The second thing was that bonehead lateral in the Rose Bowl. When in his entire SC career did they do anything like that? Even when the team was down, like at Arizona State or Cal in ’03 or against the Irish in ’05, never did they go sandlot. And they were schooling the Longhorns in the first half. Given all the garbage that’s coming out, it wouldn’t surprise me if that play fit in somewhere. Disappoint me greatly, but not surprise me.

    The real sad thing if Reggie was indeed getting extra benefits within an order of magnitude of what Yahoo! alleges is how it probably affected LenDale. Think about it. LenDale wasn’t a rich kid either and he probably came out a year early and missed an opportunity to be eternally great in the college game and be a top 5 pick in 2007. He may or may not make it as a pro, kinda like Mike Williams has pretty much flopped. LenDale was no Reggie, but he was great, like Charles White great vs. Marcus Allen legendary. What if he thought (as lots of 21 year olds think), that he deserved to get paid too?

    I hope none of it’s true, but something stinks and the facts need to be sorted out. If there is something there, Reggie needs to take responsibility and not push the penalty off on current and future players and the fans.

  8. Again, it’s all speculation at this point, but if agents actually were in USC locker rooms, sidelines, players facilities, that takes it a noted step beyond the whole Maurice Clarett deal. Clarett got busted for being aligned and accepting benefits from a booster. Reggie Bush and, maybe, USC are under suspicion for being aligned with and accepting benefits from sports agent(s). If USC’s football program is implicated in this (and who knows), it will be considerably worse thatn Maurice Clarett. It will be worse than Michigan B-Ball. It will be better compare to Alabama (should have written “Crimson” above) Tide. Even then, that only involved boosters and Alabama officials, not officials, agents and players.
    It would be best if this was all a big mistake. It just doesn’t look good, though.

  9. 1. Michigan never won either a Big 10 or NCAA title with the Fab 5. Runner-up, yes.

    2. Maurice Clarett never played a down after his freshman season. Why? He was suspended, decided instead to go pro and Mike Williams joined him so to speak, remember? Oh yeah, OSU was not found at fault for him being a dumbass.

    3. I doubt we’ve heard the last of Bushgate. When ESPN turns on you, they aren’t guided by fairness. They throw the shit on the wall and see what sticks. In OSU’s case, it washed off but left a stain. If there were agents in the lockerroom, PC has some splainin to do.

    4, Luckily for you guys, Yahoo! Sports broke the story not the WWL. Therefore the “reporting” by ESPN will be at a minimum. ESPN’s way of being a lazy slouch with a “source” to tell them everything didn’t yield results. Having to dig for answers and actually get results on their own, goes against everything they stand for. So any more news on this story will have to be uncovered by others.

  10. Re-run–

    All the hang your head stuff was addressing some other guy, who posted as ???. Not every comment on here is replying to you, although as a Golden Domer, I’m in no way surprised you think that way.

    But I’ll concede, you’re right — if you’re going off of the Yahoo! Sports article, which is all we have right now, it doesn’t look good.

    But as much as this could suck somewhere off in the future for us, losing to Nebraska tomorrow would suck a lot worse RIGHT NOW.

    So you’ll pardon me if I’m not going to get all lathered up over Yahoo’s report just yet.

    Finally, I’ll explain my future absence from this, or any other thread about Reggiegate, with this: the biggest factor in this case, beyond what Reggie may have done, what USC may have known about, and what can be proven, is the NCAA. The most mercurial, bereft of logic governing body in all of the sports land. So regardless of the “facts”, which we still don’t really know, we’re still left to speculate idly about what the NCAA’s going to do.

    And let me put it this way — if USC’s going to have to suffer ANYTHING at the hands of all of this bullshit (and I say bullshit b/c of all the obvious flaws in this system, the fact we all know that Reggie wouldn’t be the only guy on a Championship team who took $$$), the last thing I want to do is agonize over the possible decisions of the NCAA before they happen.

    Sadly at this point, what’s done is done, and now we’re left to have our fate decided by Uncle Chester, the one who loves to sniff airplane glue.

    At least we’ve still got 12 teams to take it out on this season.

  11. This should not prevent you from your annual pummeling of ND. I do admire your OOC schedule this year. Nobody can say you “Ducked” anyone.

  12. Oops, sorry Max. I was too busy lighting cigars with hundred dollar bills and meticulously grooming my hair for hours on end to catch that conversations don’t revolve solely around me. My bad.
    Seriously though, you’re right. The NCAA determines what will happen and there’s no logic to their logic (ex. the hiring of Elton Brand). It seems logical to guess that Reggie Bush isn’t the only Trojan to take illegal benefits and that such activity occurs in many, many other NCAA programs. That’s why I likened it to the steroid scandal. Nobody wants to face up to the possibility of it, including the sports’ governing body. As far as I’m concerned ANY team is just as likely to engage in this. There’s too much money.
    As for Bush, he sounds toasted. If they have receipts with his name on it and his family accepted payments in his name (which his agent as much as admitted), then he won’t come out clean. That doesn’t matter in the scheme of things though as the Judicial Branch doesn’t hand out sentences for that sort of thing. All that really is worth questioning is whether Agents were that close to players and it’s virtually undeniable. I’d guess the NCAA wants this to go away as badly as, well, USC. As long as the public perception is “whatever” then they’ll just let it pass and punish people that don’t impact the fans’ confidence in the game.

  13. I hear SOOOO MUCH jealousy and anger. You guys talking about breaking rules and Bush giving USC a “Professional” edge is LAUGHABLE! It’s not like he broke out a check book on the field and paid off DB’s and LB’s in order to rack up GODLY numbers. He didn’t “cheat” on the field you morons! Matt Leinart was a 5th year senior and a LOT closer to being an NFL athlete, but NO ONE has mentioned a thing about him giving USC a “professional” edge. JEZUS! Take the 2004 Title? Why don’t we go back and help write the ten commandments too?

    If you guys want to point fingers, point them at yourselves for being so easily brainwashed by TERRIBLE journalists who haven’t offered 1 shred of PROOF! “sources reported allegedly.” is how every other sentence in that Yahoo crap ends. They might as well tell me that an alien or Santa Claus is their official source. WHY AREN’T YOU BLAMING HIS PARENTS?
    How many of you knew what your parents’ finances were like in college and what they were planning on doing with them in the future?
    Where is your moral outraage over a back-up punter stabbing a starting punter to get the job? Now that’s cheating I won’t tolerate!
    Since you “Haters” love baseball so much, riddle me this… Was Pete Rose a cheater or one of the best players of all time? Most Americans think he should be in the Hall of Fame and I agree. What he did off the field was seperate from what he did on the field!
    You “Haters” can say we(USC Fans) are one sided or whatever you want to think, but we HONESTLY don’t care about that BULLSHIT!
    Football games are hard fought battles! USC vs. Notre Dame & USC vs. Texas last year will provide us w/ 2 of the BEST college football games EVER and you want to change that somehow with a little whiteout?
    Taking away our 2004 Title is a TOTAL JOKE! Fine you can have it if we can keep our 2006 Trophy you deuschbags! We beat Oklahoma like the red-headed stepchild they were/are and it felt like a preseason game anyway. Jason White who? Where’s that Heisman winner?
    Speaking of Oklahoma, where’s your outrage over Rhett Bomar? He got caught red-handed w/ his hand in the cookie jar and I didn’t hear about making OU Bowl ineligible. NOR DID I HEAR USC FANS CALLING FOR JACK SHIT! Why?


    Go write some letters to Bush about corruption and see if anything happens!


  14. Reggie MIGHT have broken some rules, but there is an ONGOING NCAA investigation…lets not take everything to heart just yet. Even if they prove that he did take money and so forth, I can’t see USC being punished. Maurice Clarett successfully fingered Ohio State and the NCAA did nothing to them. Reggie’s parents are HUGELY to blame, along with himself, but Carrol and USC should not be punished mainly because eagle watching players parents isn’t part of coaching.

    And to all those douchebags (USC haters, Dan Wetzel included)… Taking away Reggie’s Heisman and USC’s championship hardware WILL NOT affect everyone knowing who the most dominant team in college football over the past 5 years has been. 3 Heisman trophy winners, 48-2 record, 4+ BCS appearances, countless All-Americans, resurrection of one of football’s elite and tradition rich schools, and a current #2 coaches poll ranking is something that the NCAA will not remove from people’s memories. Tomorrow, USC will thrash Nebraska and be on its way to a 4th straight BCS bowl, probably in Glendale, AZ. FIGHT ON !!!

  15. Remember about ten years ago the University of Washington was severly punished by the NCAA for a player accepting a loan of $50,000 that the school had no knowledge of? The punishment essentially ruined the UW football program and forced a great coach Don James into retirement. Now the Bush (and others) scandle(s) involves tons more money and yet USC does not seem to be responsible at all. I guess that UW is expendable but USC plays by other rules because it is a better draw for the big TV money. Come on NCAA play fair!

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