Bush contrition just a bit late for USC

August, 13, 2010
8/13/10
12:47
PM ET
New USC athletic director Pat Haden told USA Today that he talked to Reggie Bush and Reggie Bush is sorry.
"He's really contrite," Haden told the newspaper. "He knows he made a series of mistakes. It wasn't just one mistake. It was a series of mistakes."

Well, that settles everything. Maybe the NCAA will give the Trojans back their scholarships and release a short statement: "Let bygones be bygones."

Or not.

Basically, after four-plus years, in which Bush mostly used a series of lawyers to avoid being accountable, which forced his alma mater to remain in the news in a negative way throughout the lengthy process that ended with major sanctions, the severity of which cannot be justified by the violations themselves but more likely are rooted in the "catch-me-if-you-can" attitude Bush, and subsequently USC, adopted. Bush says, "Whoops. Sorry."

Let's quickly look at the lines of Bush culpability.
  • He took extra benefits -- cash and gifts. He knew that was against NCAA rules.
  • Bush then refused to pay back money to the agents/marketers when he opted to sign with someone else. Perhaps this all could have ended quietly if Bush and his family weren’t greedy and weren’t so willing to double-cross an associate.
  • Bush then refused to pay back money to the agents/marketers when he opted to sign with someone else.
  • Bush said in 2006: "We have nothing to hide. When all is said and done ... everyone will see we have done absolutely nothing wrong." So add lying to his list of transgressions.
  • Even after Yahoo! broke the story of Denise and LaMar Griffin living in a $750,000 home in 2006, Bush could have realized at any point in the months -- years -- before Lloyd Lake sat down with the NCAA, "Hey, this might hurt USC. I'm a multimillionaire. What's a check for $300,000 to me?" And USC might not be missing 30 scholarships today.

You'll note, by the way, that Bush hasn't publicly come clean. I wonder how in depth he went with Haden about his "series of mistakes?"

Moreover, does Bush understand the depth of his damage to USC? Rival fans are enjoying acting like USC was a rogue football program under Pete Carroll. But that isn't a fair assessment based on the NCAA's own report. After a four-year investigation, the list of major violations for the football team included ... Reggie Bush.

The NCAA wrote: "There was relatively little effective monitoring of, among others, football locker rooms and sidelines, and there existed a general postgame locker room environment that made compliance efforts difficult."

Having been in the USC locker room many times, I won't dispute that. But, er, can you give us examples of major compliance failures, other than Bush, of course?

NCAA report: Crickets.

We write all of this not to relaunch the "USC got screwed" stuff, but merely to point at Bush and say what all USC fans should say to him: "Hey, dude, just about all of this is your fault. From your first taking extra benefits to how you handled yourself afterward. USC's weakened state falls on you first and foremost before it stains the institution and officials who could have done their jobs better."

Only after he becomes persona non grata at USC does Bush say "The whole situation is terrible and nobody feels worse about it than I do."

Actually, my guess is tens of thousands USC fans, alumni, administrators, players and coaches feel a whole lot worse than you do.

And their bad feelings are because of you.

Ted Miller | email

College Football

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