USC athletic director is ready to display Reggie Bush’s retired jersey in the Coliseum

In an interview on the Peristyle Podcast last week, USC athletic director Jennifer Cohen clarified USC’s stance on Reggie Bush, stating, “To [USC], Reggie Bush is a Heisman winner.  Any and all ways we can honor and recognize that for him, that are appropriate for him, we will do.”  Beyond the clear support that Reggie is receiving from the athletic department, this statement provides clarity for the time when Trojan fans will finally see the No. 5 jersey back where it belongs.

Bush steadfastly maintains that he earned his Heisman Trophy on the field, a notion supported by anyone who witnessed his remarkable performances as one of college football’s greatest running backs. The peristyle end of the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, where the Trojans play their home games, proudly displays the jersey numbers of six of USC’s Heisman Trophy winners. However, two notable absences stand out: Caleb Williams, the 2022 Heisman winner, and Bush, whose No. 5 jersey was removed after the NCAA ruled that he and his family received improper benefits from a marketing agent while he played at USC.

It is worth noting that the NCAA rule under which Bush was penalized has since been deemed unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, adjudicating that it is a violation of a citizen’s rights to prevent said citizen from profiting by marketing his or her own name, image, and likeness. Therefore, if the rule is illegal now, it was also illegal then, rendering the case against Bush questionable at best.

Additionally, the entire NCAA investigation was put under a microscope by Judge Frederick Shaller during the related case of Todd McNair’s alleged involvement. Shaller called the NCAA investigation “malicious” and explained that the NCAA infractions report “contained material false statements…”  The NCAA spent 10 years delaying the trial with appeals, but finally settled out of court with McNair for an undisclosed amount.

In 2021 the NCAA remained in character and upheld that Bush was ineligible even though the rules have now changed, in spite of the Supreme Court ruling. The NCAA will not reinstate his 2005 season records. In turn, the Heisman Trust is hiding behind a rule that makes Reggie ineligible for the award if his playing records are vacated.

Last year during the spring game, rumors circulated that Reggie’s jersey would be unveiled during the season alongside Caleb Williams’ jersey when a blank tarp was displayed as a placeholder among the other Heisman winners. Reggie has since clarified that he doesn’t want his number retired at the Coliseum until his Heisman Trophy, which he earned while capping a 34-game win streak at USC, is returned. So as Cohen said, No. 5 will be proudly displayed when Reggie has his trophy returned.  Reggie remains in litigation for a defamation suit against the NCAA.

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Story originally appeared on Trojans Wire