Yahoo Sports scores a huge story, building on their earlier work on the Reggie Bush story by breaking the details of how Reggie Bush allegedly rolled in improper benefits during his time at USC. While the damage seems to center not on the USC program but on the venal behavior of the family when presented with handouts--they went through hotels and limousines like the Clampett family, evidently--the implications for USC remain stark, unappealing, and at this point unavoidable.
Hotels? Lee-mo-zeens? WOO!!!
What those consequences are is uncertain. Any blog post mentioning "death penalty" should be tossed into the bin of inconceivability straightaway; this situation reeks less of institutional corruption and more of a shifty agent infestation that got absurdly out of hand. In fact, the whole bit reminds us of the Tank Black scandal at Florida, where a sports agent fed hungry undergrad phenoms cash in exchange for their trust, eventual agency when they went pro, and ultimately the management of their pro money. Black managed some 12 million of that into his own pockets, and now claims an address ending with "FEDERAL POUND-YOU-IN-THE-ASS PRISONVILLE," but Florida got away with little in the way of sanctions because Spurrier and the coaching staff knew next to nothing about it.
Tank Black would have been very close to Reggie.
The only thing that should trouble USC fans is Yahoo Sports allegation that USC running backs coach Todd McNair knew of the arrangement Bush had with New Era Sports, the company funding the whole boondoggle. (Remember that after all of this, Bush went and signed with someone else entirely.) If true, that may tie the NCAA's hands coming into the case, and merit some minor rebuke for USC (as well as putting a dent in McNair's resume.)
Or they might yank a national title, a Heisman, and set Pete Carroll's wispy, perfectly constructed hair on fire. You never know with the NCAA. We went to the most responsive NCAA source we have, Josh Centor, the guy who puts together Mondays With Myles and who actually answered some of our questions a while ago. He said he'd put it on the agenda for the next couple of weeks, and given his past track record with this, we're pretty sure that at least the question will get asked in a substantive form.
For anyone dismissing the story at this point...consider the two salient points here:
1. Reggie Bush has been empirically proven to be a selfish dickface. (This is a scientific term. Trust us.) He raked in money from shifty agents and then told them to kiss off when bigger prospects blushed in his direction. He's not even reliably bribeable. And don't contest the evidence; as anyone coming to from a long, hazily remembered night out on the town will attest, credit card receipts sadly do not lie.
2. From 2004 to 2005, a member of the USC Trojans received over $100K in improper benefits. Again, there's the credit card and receipt thing that makes sweeping this under the rug very difficult.
3. Reggie Bush and his family jacked all this money from a man in a bolo tie, whom you should never trust to begin with at all.
The Big Payback, likely en route for USC in one form or another.
Something's going to happen. If we were wagering--and that's all that is at this point--we'd say USC will forfeit the 2005 season. It's tidy, it's relatively easy, and it doesn't mean anything so nasty as actual sanctions in the present tense for THE glamazon program of college football. Again, that's just total guesswork, but given the recent decision regarding Georgia Tech's use of ineligible players, it seems to the be policy tool of choice for the Brand-era NCAA.
For the moment, check Conquest Chronicles for an honest USC fan's balanced angst on the whole deal. Or if you're into gleeful hatchet jobs typed in blood, there's always Nestor's unbiased, clinical evaluation of the situation.
PS. Dan Shanoff, newly liberated from the yoke of the Mouse and writing all the "fucktards" he cares to on his blog, wants the Heisman stripped along with the '04 championship. (Dan Wetzel's the guy who put the '04 strip idea out there first.) We think he should begin stapling paper wings on pigs on the championship bit, but the Heisman move seems plausible.