Reggie Bush will be back on USC’s campus this week.
“Big Noon Kickoff,” the show Fox started this season that airs opposite ESPN’s “College GameDay,” is headed to USC for its home game against No. 10 Utah on Friday night. Bush, who won the Heisman Trophy for the Trojans back in 2005, is a member of the show’s crew alongside three others: former Notre Dame quarterback Brady Quinn, former USC quarterback Matt Leinart and former Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer. They will be part of a one-hour pregame show, plus halftime and post-game coverage for the Utes vs. Trojans game, which kicks off at 9 p.m. ET.
Bush’s presence is especially significant. Bush was a human highlight reel in his three years at USC, putting up 3,169 yards on the ground, accumulating 95 catches for 1,301 yards and combining for 43 total touchdowns. Bush played a big role on USC’s national title-winning team in 2004, his sophomore year. In his junior year, Bush rushed for 1,740 yards and 16 touchdowns and caught 37 passes for 478 yards, earning the Heisman Trophy over Texas quarterback Vince Young.
But Bush was forced to forfeit his Heisman after the NCAA ruled that he received impermissible benefits while playing at USC. The football program was hit with severe sanctions, including vacating all the games Bush played while ineligible — including the 2005 Orange Bowl that gave the Trojans the national title. On top of that, the NCAA forced USC to permanently disassociate itself from Bush, who went on to play 11 seasons in the NFL.
But now Bush will be back on USC’s campus, where he is permitted to be in a working capacity. Back in August, Bush was asked what he thought it would be like to return to his alma mater.
“I assume it would be amazing,” Bush said. “Not to pat myself on the back, but a lot of the kids still commit there based off what we did when we were there in college. I still talk to a lot of guys there. I still have relationships with a lot of people there. I hear stories where guys come to USC and they want to wear my jersey or they want to meet me. So, I’m flattered and I appreciate it. I think it speaks volumes to if you work hard enough, you’ll be able to achieve it.”
Urban Meyer’s appearance at USC also notable
The presence of Leinart, who won the Heisman in 2004, could make the situation more comfortable for Bush. And the fact that Meyer is there will also draw some attention away from Bush’s return.
Meyer, of course, announced his retirement last December after his seventh season coaching at Ohio State. That was the second time Meyer, who deals with the effects of a cyst on his brain, has retired for health-related reasons. Meyer left Florida after the 2010 season, only to return to accept the head-coaching job at OSU in November of 2011.
USC, especially now that Lynn Swann has been cast aside as athletic director, could be in the market for a new coach later this year. Even after the program’s first losing season since 2000, Swann opted to bring back Clay Helton for the 2019 campaign. But now Swann is out of the picture, having “resigned” from his post last week. The Trojans are off to a 2-1 start this year, but most expect that whoever is hired as USC’s new AD will want to bring in a new head football coach.
Many college football insiders will only believe Meyer stays retired when they see it. That includes some who know him well.
“I just don’t see how he sits out the rest of his life,” said one former colleague of Meyer’s. “That’s who he is, that’s what he does.”
The colleague cautioned, though, that Meyer wouldn’t come back for a second-tier job. He’s accustomed to driving Cadillacs, not Kias.
“It would have to be the perfect place,” the colleague said. “He’s not going to North Carolina State or Pittsburgh or something like that. It has to be a legit job where he can win it all. USC, to me, is that type of place.”
Fox is doing all it can to draw eyes away from ESPN, and bringing Bush and Meyer to The Coliseum seems like a wise move.
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