Hold That! Reggie Bush Won’t Let USC Retire His Number Until He Gets Back His Heisman

The USC Trojans want to give former running back Reggie Bush his flowers by retiring his jersey. But Reggie wants the celebration once a piece of his outstanding collegiate football career is restored: his Heisman trophy.

That ceremony in sunny Southern California will have to wait.

Reggie Bush is not your negro, to quote the documentary of the same name about American writer James Baldwin holding his country accountable in an unfinished manuscript. Like Baldwin, who exiled himself from the States in the face of adversity, Bush returned his Heisman during a time that would have never have been envisioned in an NIL era.

Why Did Reggie Bush Have Heisman Taken?

Bush had a legendary season with the USC Trojans in 2005 that yielded him the Heisman Trophy until a four-year probe revealed he violated NCAA rules about improperly receiving gifts. The NCAA found that he and his family accepted prohibited gifts, including cash, travel expenses, and a San Diego-area home rent-free.

The NCAA investigated, and sanctions came down on USC for not regulating Bush. It is almost impossible to imagine a world where teens turned adults aren’t valued as NIL millionaires, whether real or speculative. Bush returned his trophy in 2010.

Today’s athletes are lauded for being popular through exploiting their potential on social media, and college is now a place where you can get paid even if you never make it pro. If Reggie Bush were playing today, he would be one of the superstars of the PAC-12 and at the top of the NIL Valuation charts.

Reggie Bush Would Be An NIL King Today

Imagine Bush, who had an impact more significant than Shedeur and Shilo Sanders’’ pop culture splash with his 2005 rushing for 1,740 yards and 16 touchdowns. He really averaged 8.7 yards per carry and caught 37 receptions for 478 yards and two touchdowns. He played punt and kick returner while racking up awards: the Doak Walker, Walter Camp, and Pac-10 Offensive Player of the Year.

Bush also helped lead the Trojans on a 34-game win streak and two national championship titles, playing only three seasons at the school. Now those are stats you floss a watch in your opponent’s face too.

However, in June 2010, the NCAA issued harsh sanctions to USC, stripping them of the 2004 national title, making them vacate 14 wins from 2004 to 2005, and relinquishing 30 scholarships. Additionally, Bush’s stats were either erased or have asterisks marring his accomplishments with what are, in essence, sanctioned disclaimers. That disassociation ban was lifted in June 2020 after ten years.

Last August, Bush pushed the pedal on the NCAA and filed a defamation lawsuit, claiming the organization improperly described him as benefiting from a “pay-for-play” arrangement at USC. The goal is simple: get the trophy back and reinstate his records from 2003-2005.

Until then, the ceremony retiring his jersey can wait as Reggie Bush seeks to close the loop that helped kick down the door for NIL.

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