Tarnished Heisman? Reggie Bush scandal will take down USC!Posted: January 10, 2008
If half of what the new Reggie Bush book claims is true, he will lose his Heisman Trophy.
That’s saying a lot, considering it sits side-by-side with O.J. Simpson’s in the lobby of USC’s Heritage Hall.
Don Yaeger’s new work, Tarnished Heisman, is the most detailed account of the Reggie Bush scandal we’ve seen to date. It’s doubtful there’ll be anything more conclusive unless (or perhaps until) the NCAA releases the results of its investigation.
If this were a work of fiction, it’d still be some good pulp.
The book’s case against Bush is built heavily on the testimony of one man, Lloyd Lake, who is at the center of the controversy. Lake, a convicted felon whose past in examined in the book, allegedly provided or arranged for hundreds of thousands of dollars in benefits for Bush and his family, much of which went directly to into the hands the USC football star. Lake goes so far as to claim that Bush was the one lobbying to further the partnership in clear violated of NCAA regulations. He says Bush had to convince him to follow through, urging, “Let’s do it,” in a face-to-face meeting.
But wait — there’s more. There are numerous examples of other improper benefits Bush received, backed by receipts and bank records. Some were from another party — agent Mike Ornstein (himself a convicted felon). While in college, Bush was an intern at Ornstein’s office and, according to the book, both he and his family were well taken care of by the man who would eventually handle the player’s marketing as a pro.
The good news for Trojan fans is that there is limited evidence showing that USC had knowledge of any impropriety. As NCAA Executive Director David Price pointed out to the authors, “Charles Woodson of University of Michigan received benefits from an agent. That all became known publicly sometime after he had left the institution. We had no information that there was any institutional knowledge; therefore, we did not take any action against the institution or even bring charges.”
Among the worst the book has on USC:
- A USC coach, Todd McNair, was apparently present in San Diego when Bush was staying in a hotel room that he couldn’t have afforded on his own. The book admits, “There is no evidence that McNair knew about the payment.”
- The book cites a rumor, emphasis on rumor, that circulated about head coach Pete Carroll receiving an anonymous email that would have tipped him off to an inappropriate dealings by Bush’s parents.
- A memorabilia dealer reported to the NCAA that he left a message for both Carroll and Athletic Director Mike Garrett about the possible impropriety in the Bush-Ornstein relationship.
- Lake claims that he was in the same room as Bush’s stepdad during a call with Carroll discussing the family’s questionable housing arrangement.
- Bush’s parent got an all-expense paid trip for a game in Hawaii, which might have stood out had people realized Bush wasn’t from a wealthy family. While there are also receipts for a flight taken by the family to a game in Berkeley, it’s doubtful anybody would have noticed since the town is just a few hours drive from USC.
The book discusses another one of Bush’s big perks,
In February 2005, Bush asked for and was given $13,000 — by Lake — for the purchase of a car, a 1996 black Impala SS. The car was considered trendy in the neighborhood where Bush grew up … Bush wanted to upgrade the car and received another $4,000 from Lake to ‘pimp’ the car with a new stereo, tinted windows, and high-performance tires and rims.
That story is corroborated by Lake’s mother.
Of course, a car valued under $40,000 wouldn’t have stood out on a campus where parking lots are crammed with top-of-the-line BMWs, Mercedes, and Porches.
While the evidence against USC isn’t that strong, the evidence against Bush is downright damning. Copies of records used are scheduled to appear soon on http://www.tarnishedheisman.com.
Additional observations on Tarnished Heisman:
- If a $12,000 cash gift was given to Bush to purchase a car, shouldn’t that have been reported to the IRS (which, if memory serves, tracks all transactions above $10,000)? Then again, Lake has admitted to not paying taxes in the past.
- The book implies that Bush’s situation prevented him from being taken as the #1 pick in the NFL draft.
- Rap mogul Suge Knight and actor Faizon Love were called in to mediate during the scandal. Oh, to be a fly on the wall for that conversation.
- Reggie Bush and his stepdad exchanged 484 calls with Lake in a nine month period.
Lake claims Bush’s stepdad quoted the Heisman winner as saying, “Oh, Dad, when I go to the NFL, I am going to leave all those people alone and get rid of them.”
So much for that. As the book reports in its closing pages,
A dozen Heisman voters, interviewed for this book, were unanimous: If it is true that Reggie Bush took hundreds of thousands of dollars from Lloyd Lake and Michael Michaels and the NCAA sanctions Bush, “It would make a great statement if we the Heisman voters said enough is enough,” said the Orlando Sentinel’s Mike Bianchi.