Should former USC tailback Reggie Bush be stripped of his 2005 Heisman if he is found to have been ineligible by the NCAA?
On this subject, Heismanpundit.com recently queried a portion of its crack cadre of Heisman voters who, for the past two seasons, have proven to be the most accurate gauge of Heisman voter sentiment.
Of the 10 voters canvassed by HP, seven believed that Bush should not have his award taken away.
“Any benefit he received was off the field,” said one voter. “Thus, it had no impact on how he performed on the field. If he was found to have used a performance-enhancing drug, then I would take away the Heisman.”
A strong majority agreed with that train of thought.
“Although it appears he was receiving illegal benefits, Bush was playing college football and I’ve got a hunch he’s not the only Heisman winner that received illegal benefits,” said another voter. “Besides, stripping him of the trophy won’t change the fact that he was a Heisman winner. Do you then give it to Vince Young…and would Young even want it?”
One voter contended that Bush shouldn’t lose his membership in the Heisman fraternity “unless they kick O.J. out first.”
This overall vibe in support of Bush didn’t prevent a few voters from feeling cheated by the whole ordeal.
“As a Heisman voter, I would feel as if I had been duped if Bush knowingly took illicit payouts from a wannabe sports agent while in college,” said a voter. “On the Heisman ballot, it says you are voting for the most “outstanding” college football player, not the most outstanding professional football player masquerading as a collegian.”
The Heisman Trophy has been awarded to the most outstanding collegiate football player since 1935. In all that time, the award has never been rescinded or vacated. Bush, who now plays for the New Orleans Saints, is a part of an overall NCAA investigation of USC activities post-2004.
The results of the investigation are expected to be due within the next week.
The HeismanPundit.com Heisman Poll is made up of 13 Heisman voters from across the country. They vote for five players each week during the college football season. Tabulations are made on a 5-4-3-2-1 basis, with five points awarded for a first-place vote, four points for a second-place vote and so on. Each of the last two Heismanpundit polls picked the eventual winner and was (overall) the most accurate survey in the country.
Members of the panel include: Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel, Teddy Greenstein and Brian Hamilton of the Chicago Tribune, Olin Buchanan and Tom Dienhart of Rivals.com, Jenni Carlson of The Oklahoman, Bruce Feldman of ESPN.com, J.B. Morris of ESPN the Magazine, Austin Murphy, B.J. Schecter and Stewart Mandel of Sports Illustrated, Dick Weiss of the New York Daily News and Chris Huston of Heismanpundit.com.