The saga of Reggie Bush and the improper benefits his family may or may not have received in his last year at USC has dragged on to the point of meaninglessness for fans and pundits alike tired of rehashing the sordid accusations and legal. Possible NCAA sanctions, though – word of which could come down as soon as next week – are still very relevant to Heisman voters, if the Omaha World-Herald's Tom Shatel is any indication. Prompted by a questionnaire from Yahoo! Sports reporters Jason Cole and Charles Robinson, who broke the Bush story in 2006, Shatel wrote Wednesday he won't hesitate to vote for recalling Bush's trophy if he has any say about it:
Their question: Would I, as a Heisman Trophy voter, agree with stripping Reggie Bush of his Heisman if Bush was found to be ineligible by the NCAA for the 2005 season in which he won the award[?]
My answer was yes. I think we should have higher standards for national awards like this. I think the Heisman should and does stand for something bigger than scoring touchdowns. I think it's absolutely okay to charge every winner with upholding the honor of this award their entire lives. And if they weren't even eligible when they won it, that's more than fair game.
Shatel further advises that the Heisman Foundation should allow every voter to cast a ballot for one of the following choices: Let Bush keep the Heisman, strip him and "vacate" the award for 2005, or strip him and give the award to the runner-up, Texas quarterback Vince Young, who likely would have won the award, anyway, if the vote was held after his dramatic, 467-yard masterpiece to lift the 'Horns over Bush's Trojans in the 2006 Rose Bowl.
There are two things to consider here, the first and most relevant being that, since the NCAA doesn't administer the Heisman, Bush's eligibility technically doesn't matter; he could be convicted of securities fraud and the Heisman Foundation could still do whatever it wanted with his award. Second, even if the foundation did decide to do a re-vote, there's a good chance Bush would still win the balloting, a la former teammate Brian Cushing earlier this week: Bush won with 2,508 votes, second only to O.J. Simpson in the history of the award, and his 933-point margin of victory was the widest since Wisconsin's Ron Dayne ran away with it in 1999.
And, of course, we still don't know that the always mysterious NCAA will even rule Bush ineligible in the first place. But for a member of the mainstream media – especially one in the hallowed inner circle of the Heisman vote – to publicly render such a verdict on Bush is somewhat surprising. We may not have to wait long to see if anyone else follows his lead.