Welcome Home, Reggie

USC made it official: Reggie Bush did in fact, go to USC.

Jim Rome
June 11, 2020 - 1:36 pm
Reggie Bush

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Yesterday, the University of Southern California made it official: Reggie Bush did in fact, go to USC. That really happened. Okay, it wasn’t exactly like that, but it was pretty much like that, because yesterday the school announced that Bush’s 10-year NCAA-mandated disassociation was over.  

School president Carol Folt wrote a letter to Bush that included the following: “I am pleased to inform you that all restrictions and prohibitions on your involvement in our athletics program are officially removed and you will be afforded the privileges and courtesies extended to all Trojan football alumni.”

Awesome. So apparently now it’s ok to admit this really did happen:

Apparently now that the punishment is over, we don’t have to act like that never happened. Or that he never attended school or toted the rock there. 

The football program’s official Twitter account posted a highlight reel with the caption: Welcome home, Reggie Bush.

And Bush said in a statement: “I’ve dreamed of this day for 10-plus years, and I’m excited to come home!”

I’M HYPED TOO, REG.  HYPED THAT THIS WHACK PUNISHMENT IS FINALLY OVER. 

The NCAA has done some pretty jacked-up things in its time, but the disassociation punishment for Reggie Bush is right near the top of the list. Vacated wins and show-cause penalties think disassociation was weird as hell.

You’ll recall that the conscious uncoupling came after an NCAA investigation concluded that Bush and family members had received extra benefits when he was at USC. The school received a two-year bowl ban and a reduction in scholarships. Bush returned his Heisman Trophy and USC had to pretend Reggie bush never even existed.

That meant he was not welcome on campus and was not involved with the program in any capacity. That was relaxed a little bit last fall when he returned to the Coliseum as a broadcaster. His name and stats did appear in USC’s most recent media guide, but they had notes that pointed out that some of his accomplishments were impacted by an NCAA penalty.

So for ten years, the school pretty much had to ignore Reggie Bush. They had to ignore their most iconic and impactful player of this century.

How weird is that? Like they just erased dude completely. Hell, OJ Simpson was afforded more respect from USC over the last decade than Reggie Bush was. 

And exactly who did that serve? Did the NCAA think that everyone would just forget that he went to USC? That everyone was just going to erase those games from their heads. And that we wouldn’t talk about them?

How exactly was that supposed to work? That if two people in a bar were talking about the greatest running backs of all time, some NCAA narc or the NARC BRAH HIMSELF, SILK, GOING TO INTERRUPT them and say, excuse me sir, I’m going to have report you for talking about Reggie Bush. He can’t be on your list because he didn’t go to USC.  He’s dead to us.  So keep his name out your mouth, because none of the stuff you’re talking about ever happened. 

And yes, I know that there was an NCAA investigation and it did find that Bush and his family received benefits. And as any USC honk would tell you, those benefits did not come as part of its recruiting process. The benefits weren’t there to convince him to stay at USC. In fact, the benefits were about getting him to leave.

But honestly, I’m not sure how much that even matters. Because the more time that’s passed, the less important those violations feel. Nobody is sweating the sanctity and purity of amateur athletics anymore. That conversation has shifted so much that we’re now talking college athletes being compensated for their name, image, and likeness.

But that doesn’t change the fact that it really was an extremely weird punishment. Like we all had to act like he didn’t go to USC, he didn’t wear number 5, and he wasn’t the most electric player any of us have seen in our lifetimes.

It’s so weird that Reggie Bush had to return his Heisman, but USC still displays OJ Simpson’s. That might be the weirdest thing ever. They kept Oadge’s Heisman but not Reggie Bush’s???  They associated more with a killer than they did a guy who received some impermissible benefits.

Pretty hard to just forget about Reggie Bush at USC when he may be pound for pound, the most electric college running back I’ve ever seen. A homerun threat every time he touched the ball, and an icon to those young ballers who came after him. They expected to just forget all that?  Nice try. That never actually happened. No one actually ever did that.  USC may have disassociated itself from Reggie Bush, but no one else did. I know I didn’t. 

I lost many hours of my life, going down the YouTube rabbit holes for his highlights.

Over the last ten years, this clip was always there when I went to look for it. And I want them one more time.

That ridiculous play still happened, whether he was allowed back on campus or not. And that ridiculous game, where he had 513 total yards, still happened, whether the school has his jersey up or not.

You know who really didn’t disassociate Reggie Bush from USC? Everyone who plays the game. He is still an absolute legend to high school players today. They know who he is and where he went to school. And what he accomplished. Because those clips are just that electric.

And as dumb as it was for the school, as Bush told Bruce Feldman last month, it was a burden he carried on a deep level: “It was a horrible feeling, one of the worst feelings in the world. It felt like I died when I had to hear that there weren’t gonna be scholarships for kids because of me or because of something connected to me. I’m still not over that. It’s just something you learn to live with.”

Maybe now he can start to get over it. Because this dopey discipline is finally over.  Welcome home reg.  It’s’ like you never even left.   Even if they did hold a memorial and bury you alive.

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