Saturday, December 10, 2005
Bush runs away with Heisman Trophy
By Ivan Maisel
NEW YORK -- Reggie Bush treated the Heisman Trophy field the same way he responds on a football field. He ran away from everyone chasing him.
The USC junior tailback won the highest percentage of first-place votes and the highest percentage of points (awarded on a 3-2-1 basis) in the 71-year history of the award. Texas quarterback Vince Young finished a distant second, and Bush's quarterback, 2004 Heisman winner Matt Leinart, finished an even more distant third.
"It means everything for me," Bush said. "Me and Matt just made history. We won it back-to-back. For my family, for my hometown of San Diego -- it's a great opportunity, a great feeling."
Bush received 794 first-place votes on the 892 ballots cast, or 84.9 percent. His 2,541 points represented 91.7 percent of the maximum possible, and his 933-point margin over Young trailed only one other Heisman winner, fellow Trojan O.J. Simpson in 1968.
"I was shocked. I'm humbled by it," Bush said.
Bush and Leinart will make history at the Rose Bowl on Jan. 4 when their Trojans take on Young's Longhorns. They will become the first pair of Heisman Trophy winners to play together in a college game.
The announcement, shortly before 9 p.m. ET, arrived with all the surprise of a sunrise over the Atlantic. Bush overtook Young in the final two games of the season with dominant performances against Fresno State and UCLA. He ignored superstition and, as he put it, "practiced and practiced" his acceptance speech.
Yet when he came to thanking his family, he barely made it past his mother, Denise Griffin, before choking up when he thanked his stepfather, Lamar Griffin.
"You took me in at the age of two ..." is all Bush got out.
At the news conference afterward, Bush said of breaking down, "It was from the heart. At least that let everybody know it was from the heart."
Young sounded stunned by the final margin, too. After a magnificent junior season in which he has led the Longhorns to a 12-0 record and led Division I-A in passing efficiency, he took no solace in finishing second.
"I'm just disappointed for my fans, definitely for my teammates, my family back at home, for not representing them in the right way," Young said in a low monotone. "I just felt like I didn't represent my team and my family when I didn't come up with the trophy."
|2005 Heisman Voting
||• Bush received 85 percent of possible first-place votes (784 out of 923) -- the highest percentage ever.
• Bush was named on 99 percent of the returned ballots (884 out of 892) -- the highest percentage in history.
• Young received the most second-place votes in history -- on a percentage basis.
• Leinart received the most third-place votes in history -- on a percentage basis.
• There has never been a more lopsided vote in Heisman history (the top 3 garnered the highest percentage of possible points ever.
The day didn't go the way that Young would have scripted. It didn't hit him until Saturday afternoon, as he rode in a limo with Texas sports information director John Bianco to the Texas-Duke basketball game at the Continental Airlines Arena, that he had missed the team's opening practice for the Rose Bowl. Young called teammates Aaron Harris, Rodrique Wright and Selvin Young to interrogate them about how the session went.
Coach Mack Brown flew up to New York from Austin on Saturday after a morning practice. When Brown saw his quarterback, Young greeted him with, "I really apologize for missing practice. I've never missed a practice in my life. I've called the guys."
Brown described the practice as "in shorts, with 24 commitments there, and our players showing off for them."
In other words, no big deal.
"Kid's standing here at the Heisman Trophy," Brown said. "Talk about a team attitude. And he was serious! 'I can't wait to get back. When is the next one?' "
It may not have helped that No. 2 Texas lost to No. 1 Duke, 97-66. That would be a prelude for what would happen at the Nokia Theater.
An ESPN camera captured the three finalists and their associates walking into the theater minutes before 6 p.m., at which point associate producer Caroline Davis shooed them back out onto West 44th Street and made them do it again. The only thing better than one take on camera is two.
Bush, Young and Leinart made their way down a long escalator to the theater stage, where producer David Ceisler went over the basics for the show. The winner would be announced at about 8:55 p.m. Ceisler suggested, ever so politely, that the winner keep his remarks short. The ESPN movie Codebreakers would begin when the show ended at 9 p.m.
"A minute or so speech, that would be great," Ceisler said. "After that, we're all in trouble."
Behind them, the Heisman Trophy portraits were hung above eye height. Leinart, as the last winner, had his portrait next to that of the first winner, the late Jay Berwanger of the University of Chicago. Leinart pulled out his camera and took a portrait of his portrait.
The three of them went backstage to the VIP Suite. While Leinart and Young tried to set up an Xbox NCAA Football game, Bush walked down the hall into a makeshift office.
He sat at a folding table in front of a borrowed laptop, went onto the Internet and printed out notes for three final exams. He would stand, catch the pages as they spewed out of the printer, and sit back down again.
"They start on Wednesday when I get back," Bush said of the tests, and then corrected himself. "In the event I win. Sports psychology, and on Thursday, I've got two political science exams: one on the presidency, one on black politics."
A couple of minutes later, Leinart walked in looking for his teammate.
"What are you doing?" Leinart asked.
Bush told him.
Leinart snorted. "Like you are going to study?" he said.
"What are you trying to say?" Bush said, taking mock umbrage.
"The show doesn't start until 7:50 p.m.," Bush said, referring to when he had to be ready. "May as well do something useful."
It has been a whirlwind four days for Bush. He arrived in Orlando on Wednesday for the following night's Home Depot Awards Show at Walt Disney World, where he won the Doak Walker Award.
"I got a chance to sit down in my hotel room for 30 to 45 minutes. Then I was back for interviews."
On the table next to the computer were a pair of blue-tinted rectangular glasses. Sports information director Tim Tessalone leaned over and suggested that Bush not wear them on television.
"Are you nearsighted?" someone asked Bush.
"No," Bush said. "The GQ look."
"He's definitely into fashion," Leinart said. "Not the girly type. He's got a new outfit every time he goes out. He likes sunglasses. He's into the whole sunglasses thing right now."
Choose the one thing that doesn't belong: Bush wore a blue pinstriped three-piece suit, gleaming studs in each ear, and black socks festooned with little Mickey Mouse faces.
Bush forgot to pack black dress socks, and guess what they sell in the gift shop at the Magic Kingdom.
When Bush walked up on the Nokia Theater stage for the first time Saturday, the glasses remained in his pocket.
When he walked off the stage for the last time -- after a three-minute, 20-second acceptance speech -- he had won the Heisman Trophy.
|Bush solidified his Heisman candidacy with dominant performances the last two weeks of the season.|
Ivan Maisel is a senior writer at ESPN.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.