Thursday, January 25, 2007

BURNING BUSH



And to think, if I'd had $300,000 to burn, maybe I could have also been in the running to be Reggie Bush's agent.

We have now officially passed the point where anybody but the diehards can honestly believe that Reggie Bush didn't accept illegal benefits -- and lots of them -- from agent Lloyd Lake. The relevant particulars:

SAN DIEGO – A federal investigation into extortion claims by New Orleans Saints running back Reggie Bush and his family has revealed the existence of taped conversations that could confirm Bush took cash and gifts while he was playing football for the University of Southern California.
Lloyd Lake, an investor in a failed sports marketing agency which attempted to launch with Bush as its first client, is the subject of a grand jury probe into the extortion claims. The agency – called New Era Sports & Entertainment – was founded by Lake and San Diego businessman Michael Michaels.
Lake told Yahoo! Sports in August 2006 that he contributed a portion of the cash and gifts allegedly given to Bush and his family as part of an agreement to represent the then-USC running back when he signed an NFL contract.
According to multiple sources in an ongoing Yahoo! Sports investigation, nearly $280,000 in cash, rent and gifts was allegedly given to Bush and his family. Lake and Michaels both said in August 2006 that they planned to file a lawsuit against Bush. ...
If such taped conversations involving Bush become public, Bush and USC could face penalties from the NCAA and Pacific-10 Conference, which are conducting ongoing investigations into reports of extra benefits.
If the NCAA rules that Bush received extra benefits during his playing career at USC, he could be ruled retroactively ineligible. Since some of the benefits date to the 2004 season, the Trojans' national championship that season could be rescinded. USC could face further NCAA sanctions and Bush's 2005 Heisman Trophy could be in jeopardy. The Heisman ballot indicates that an athlete must meet NCAA eligibility requirements to be considered for college football's most prestigious award. [Emphasis added]

First of all, a bit of advice for the former No. 5, now No. 25: When you file a lawsuit, best make sure it hurts the other guy more than it hurts you. In other words, if something that can be found in discovery is going to be embarassing, maybe that's not a lawsuit you want to file.

Now we're beginning to hear the backlash against those leaping on this to bash Bush. The points, at least those made by Doug Gottlieb and Mel Kiper on ESPN Radio -- which proved that, yes, Kiper can suck the intelligence out of a room -- went something like this: Reggie Bush got the Heisman for his performance "on the field." The money from an agent didn't make Bush faster, more agile, etc. Therefore, Reggie Bush shouldn't lose the Heisman, even if all this is true.


Kiper: Hair cannot coexist with intelligence.

Let's review: He has to be eligible to receive the Heisman. Come to think of it, he had to be eligible to be "on the field." So his "on the field" accomplishments don't count if he wasn't eligible, because he wasn't supposed to be "on the field" to begin with.

I'm not sure that USC-West's championship should be stripped, unless they knew that Bush and his family were accepting the gifts. Though, when Bush's mother showed up wearing the Hope Diamond after flying first class, one should have guessed that something was up. Unless, of course, one's name was Mel Kiper.

C&F badly wanted to whip out the Antonio Langham example. However, it turns out that the Jelks affair happened around the same time, so it's impossible to tell how that affected the punishment. (And Wikipedia also says the rule has changed, but it also listed Langham's place of birth as the planet Ork, so take that into account.)

There should be some USC-West punishment, just so the next guy can't come along and say, "Well, I didn't know that the guy handing the Lexus keys to our star running back was an agent. So that's what he meant when he said 'represent.' I thought it was just some of that slang talk. These young people, you know."

My guess: There will be an admonishment of some sort. Bush will be ruled retroactively ineligible for the 2005 season -- shockingly, there will not be enough evidence on 2004 -- and Bush will be stripped of his Heisman, leading to the sticky question of whether the award is now ownerless for 2005 or whether it goes to the guy who should have won it anyway, Vince Young.

That is, of course, whenever the NCAA gets around to it. First, they have bigger fish to fry.


They've almost got him...

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