Thursday, September 14, 2006

A Trojan talks himself through it

How do I feel about it? Too complicated a question. Too many layers. Too many thoughts, emotions, and unknowns that prevent me from even being able to form a real opinion, much less voice it. And while I try to think about all the questions and all the doubts, the only things that come racing back during my attempt to actually form an opinion are the touchdowns and trophies. It's during this thought process I realize one thing. It doesn't matter.

I'm a logical sports fan, so I have to try to attack this logically. I'll watch any sport you throw in front of me, but I tend to analyze strategies and admire talents more than I invest myself in the outcome. USC Football is the only team I truly root for. That gets burned into you when you spend four years there, as I'm sure it does at any school. Call me cheesy, but that emotional attachment is truly what makes college sports so captivating.

And that's why we get so worked up when that purity gets sullied. There's a reason people say a fan "bleeds" the color of their team. Your team becomes part of you. You catch yourself referring to them as "we," and thus you feel offended when one of "us" betrays you. That is the first instinct, the stomach punch. Actually, it's the second instinct. The first is a sense that there's no way in Hell that this is all true. No way in Hell that it was a hack like Yahoo! Sports Charles Robinson that was going to bring down "my" team. No way that a sure NFL lottery pick and his family could be so dumb. No way anybody in their right mind would jump the gun like this when the millions were as good as guaranteed. But even if all of it is true, in the end do I have the right to be angry? Ah, here comes that logic again.

Why did I go to USC? Simple. I knew that they had one of the best programs in the nation for the discipline I wanted to study. It was purely a career move. Why did Reggie Bush go to USC? Same reason. I went for broadcasting. He went for football. God knows I wouldn't have argued if somebody wanted to pay me even five bucks an hour for all the time I spent working at the college TV station, but nobody did. Reggie had a better career path than I did.

And there's the rub that has me feeling angry and nothing at the same time. Are they really going to take back SC's 2004 title? The one that had zero doubt (Auburn fans excluded)? The one where Leinart threw 5 TDs against Oklahoma? I just can't see it happening, can't imagine a story that big. Can't imagine that the NCAA is willing to take that huge of a step. Not for an offense that has happened countless times before at countless schools. But maybe they are willing. Maybe they'll make Dan Wetzel happy and turn SC into THE example. The warning about what will happen if "your" team gets too big for its own supervision.

It's when I'm faced with those two scenarios that I realize it doesn't matter. Would I like them to keep the title? No doubt. The last three years (and hopefully this one) were likely the best run of success I will ever witness as a true fan. I hope I'm wrong, but let's be real. Streaks like that don't happen often. However, faced with the possibility of hardware being taken away, I have to say, I don't care. The title itself is not validation for all the Saturdays I've spent screaming at the TV or in the Coliseum.

When you get used to watching a team like the one SC fielded over the last several years, you don't get surprised by anything anymore. Not Carson, not Reggie, not Leinart, not Snoop on the sideline, not 4th and 8 in South Bend, and not Vince Young. That's why nothing here will surprise me. It won't shock me to learn that Yahoo! really did jump the gun in their headhunt of Bush and that none of this is accurate. It wouldn't shock me if it was all true and the Trojans do get their feet held to the fire. Afterall, the rules are in place, despite how rediculous they may be (see Jeff Samardzija's Cubs contract). With the current NCAA system, it will continue to happen elsewhere as well. Oklahoma can also attest to the lack of doubt surrounding that.

The bottom line is this. I won't remember anything about Reggie Bush except how amazing he was toting a football. I don't think less of him as I write this, and I think the nation is seeing what a solid human he is in the way he's embraced New Orleans. Or maybe it's all just the brilliant marketing of the man who may or may not have gotten him into this mess in the first place? I don't have the answers. Hopefully, somebody does, and hopefully we all get to hear them. Taking it one step further, hopefully the NCAA will adapt it's rules to better reward the athletes that make it millions, but that's for another time. Right now none of that matters to me. What matters is how Sedrick Ellis will bounce back from his knee scope, which freshman RB will step up to take Reggie's place, how Booty will manage the offense, and how dominant Fred Davis is going to be. The only thing that matters is Nebraska on Saturday.

Afterall, I bleed cardinal and gold.

Reggie Bush Investigation (Yahoo! Sports)
Take Back the Title (Yahoo! Sports)


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Reggie didn't just sell you, or USC out, but he sold out his teammates. Ultimately it's all about him.

8:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

good read, def. agree with you.. its great to have those trophies and to be able to rub it in other people's faces, but its mostly about the good times, watching the team for the last three years run over every one in their path, killing ucla and notre dame... boy was it great

8:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Reggie did what he did and he should be punished, but USC should be hit hard for a lack of instutional control for allowing agents in the locker room and on the sidelines.

Looks like its probation time (again) for USC football.

10:35 AM  
Anonymous Phil said...

I couldn't agree w/you more. Even if this is all true, it doesn't take away from the fact that USC dominated just about every team out there. Real fans know who won those two championships.

4:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's pretty simple actually:
Can USC lose its BCS or AP titles? Nope - The NCAA has no juridiction over the post season.

Can Reggie/USC lose his Heisman trophy? Nope, the 'Heisman committee' has no bylaws to address an issue like this. They'd have to create a rule to address it first.

Will USC have any sanctions assigned to it? Nope, the University or its staff wasn't complicit in allowing this to occur. This is an agent preying on a college student, not a USC booster cutting students checks. There was a rule in 2001 that introduced into the NCAA bylaws that states universities cannot be held accountable for what Agents do without the school's knowledge. It defined the difference between Agents and Boosters.

I'm not worried. Yahoo Sports missed the boat on this scandal. Didn't someone tell the columnist that this is OLD news?

7:40 PM  
Blogger Displaced Trojan said...

Yahoo! Sports is an upstart looking for its "Woodward and Bernstein" moment. That's why they're willing to dig into this story and quote sleaze ball sources who are all opposing each other in litigation, while reputable news outlets see the "story" as a waste of time.

If, if, if this crap is true it doesn't take away from the fun we as alumni and fans enjoyed during this fabulous Pete Carroll era. No kidding. But, no one can deny that, albeit unproven, these allegations taint the image of our program. And, that's no fun.

Carroll has said many times that the program is trying "to do this better than anyone has ever done it before." The case can be made that he is accomplishing that goal on the field. But as we reach these unprecedented heights, perhaps we're also realizing how much more difficult it is to deal with everything else at unprecedented levels.

Exacting institutional control has got to be nearly impossible given the attention, pressure and "Hollywood" recognition the program experienced last year. All it takes is one bad decision by one person at one time to cause a problem.

For now, I'll cling to Reggie's words: "Don't worry about anything." For now ...

The Displaced Trojan

12:30 PM  

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