Misusing their ‘moral’ compasses

By Nick Canepa
Updated: September 11, 2010

SAN DIEGO — If the Heisman Trust yanks its precious trophy from Reggie Bush, it can rip its chevrons off my sleeve. Find some other chump to vote.

I’ve been part of the election process for the past 25 years, but I won’t play hypocrite for these people. I once thought it an honor, but I’m not cut out to be Judge Roy Bean.

Bad enough their trophy is named after John Heisman, the great sportsman who once coached Georgia Tech to a 222-0 gallop over Cumberland. Maybe they should think about renaming their award after Mother Teresa.

Bad enough the trophy doesn’t always go to the best college football player — sometimes it isn’t close — although, in Bush’s case, it was right on. In fact, he should have won it twice. But this isn’t about that.

One report claims the Trust will strip the trophy from Bush, the former Helix High star who won the 2005 Heisman at USC and later became caught in the grip of the NCAA Gestapo. Another report claims the Trust isn’t close to a decision.

Following the sneaky footprints of the NCAA “investigation” that found Bush guilty of taking “inappropriate gifts,” the Trust reportedly has hired Holmes and Watson to look into the matter.

Of course, it didn’t help any when new USC Athletic Director Pat Haden, his school clobbered by the NCAA flatfoots, jerked his knee, did a St. Peter, denying knowledge of Bush, and sent the university’s copy back to the Downtown Athletic Club (which now probably uses it as a door stop).

Oh, you now can perform open heart surgery on the sanitized floor of USC’s Heritage Hall. I like Pat Haden. He’s a brilliant guy (they don’t dish out Rhodes scholarships to dunces), but USC is never going to become Goody Two Shoes U. This act of contrition will not disinfect its halls.

The Trojans, of course, have produced several Heisman winners, one of them being the estimable O.J. Simpson, who artfully dodged a murder rap but still managed to get caught from behind by the law on another indiscretion. Last time I checked on The Juice, he was doing time in a Nevada slammer known as Lovelock Correctional Center.

Yet, not once have I heard the Heisman Trust say it’s thinking about taking away O.J.’s trophy (which he sold), nor have I heard Haden say he’s returning Simpson’s duplicate. And we know The Juice is a criminal.

Bush perhaps was foolish. Certainly was ill-advised. But a criminal only in the eyes of NCAA jurisprudence, which often is not prudent, but most certainly jury.

Just who the hell are they, an organization that taps untold millions from college kids who get nothing except trophies that might have to be returned, to cast aspersions on anybody?

I’m way beyond tired of the NCAA playing collegiate god, judge and jury. It’s on a rampage now, sending out more letters than kids at Christmastime.

This is an organization without subpoena power. It’s not a limb of the Department of Justice. And yet they’re allowed to play Supreme Court.

Is this what Jefferson had in mind?

Why is the NCAA — and the Trust — stopping with Bush? If Reggie Bush is the first Heisman winner who received extra benefits, then I’m one of the Four Horsemen (or, probably, the horse). They’re out there, gendarmes. Go find them. Work your little geeky fingers raw. You will be rewarded.

What’s to be gained by this? Nothing. Bush is making millions with the New Orleans Saints, as is his USC coach, Pete Carroll, who jumped ship to Seattle shortly after the NCAA fired the first shot over the school’s bow. Who gets screwed? USC.

Bush has said, “It’s kind of out of my hands,” and, “On the field, play speaks for itself.” He never has owned up to this. Why should he? He doesn’t have to. The NCAA can’t get him for perjury, although I’m sure it would like to.

If the Trust extracts Bush’s Heisman, what’s he supposed to do? Tony Dungy, football’s Gandhi, says: “You know, if I’m Reggie Bush, I give back the trophy.”

And what if he doesn’t?

Are NCAA storm troopers going to invade his home and rip it off the mantle?

If this happens, there will be no 2004 Heisman winner. To the Downtown Athletic Club, it will be as though the season never existed, that Bush did none of those marvelous things that had little to do with his family getting free rent in Spring Valley.

If they want it back, Reggie, say you fumbled it away, that you can’t find it. Do not return what you’ve won. They’re not getting a search warrant.

The Hypocrite Trophy. Take it away, I’m out, not that the Trust will care. Other chumps in the sea.