Reggie Bush Opens Up About NCAA Taking Away His Heisman Trophy

Former USC Trojans running back Reggie Bush remains one of college football’s most indelible legends.

Highlight reels of his exploits against Fresno State are still highly viewed on YouTube, especially for the younger generation of current stars who were too young to have watched him play.

But one part of his legacy, his 2005 Heisman Trophy was taken away by the NCAA several years ago, with no indication it’s close to being returned to its rightful owner.

Bush has never substantially addressed his Heisman and what led up to it being taken away, but he recently opened up about it during an interview on the I Am Athlete podcast.

There were several interesting and revealing quotes from Bush during the discussion:

@yervakin Is Reggie Bush the best college running back of all time?(via @I AM ATHLETE) #reggiebush #usc #saints #heisman #nfl #nflplayoffs #nfldraft #nflmemes #fyp #fypシ #foryou #foryoupage #4u #blowthis ♬ NFL on FOX Theme [Karaoke Version] – Instrumental King

Bush described how “there are so many layers” to his story with the Heisman.

He also said he was “forced” to give it back and that he didn’t want to let them take the trophy.

Perhaps the most interesting part of the conversation is when Bush reveals he never had an in-person meeting with the Heisman Trust. Bush said there was no substantial interactions, just one conference call before they made their decision.

The Trust apparently got most of their information from the NCAA. But Bush said the issue with that is that the NCAA “didn’t do their homework” on his case.

Former USC running back Reggie Bush. (Getty Images)

According to him, the incident that led to the NCAA investigation and eventual penalties levied on the school and on Bush was not due to improper benefits, but out of necessity.

His version of events is that his parents were essentially forced out of their townhome because the landlord wasn’t paying the mortgage.

That’s when a family friend stepped up and helped them move into the house.

Bush said the NCAA “doesn’t know that piece of information right now.” Instead, they claimed it was part of a name, image and likeness type agreement that was outlawed at the time.

Poor NCAA Process

If what he’s saying is true and the NCAA didn’t do the research to learn that the house wasn’t a gift, but a temporary place while they tried to find a new home, that’s completely inexcusable.

Obviously there might be more to it than that, but it certainly seems as if Trojans fans were right in their feeling that the NCAA was out to get them in particular.

The evidence base that the school knew about the house was incredibly weak, and conversations during the hearing did make it seem like they wanted to make an example out of USC, not investigate the truth of the story.

Regardless, it’s absurd that Bush hasn’t had his trophy reinstated.

Perhaps the best indicator of how utterly absurd the Heisman Trust’s rules are, O.J. Simpson is still listed on their official website with a glowing description of his career, while the 2005 year is entirely blank, with Bush’s name never mentioned.

Instead of digging into what really happened, it seems like the NCAA steamrolled the investigation, and the Heisman believed them over Bush.

If true, it’s one of college football’s great injustices and should be corrected immediately.

Follow Ian Miller on Twitter: @ianmSC


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Written by Ian Miller

Ian Miller is a former award watching high school actor, ice cream expert and long suffering Dodgers fan. He spends most of his time golfing, eating as much pizza as humanly possible, reading about World War I history, and trying to get the remote back from his dog. Follow him on Twitter.

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