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Friday, September 22nd 2006

Can This Really Fly?

Over, that is. There’s a lot of opinion out there that the NCAA lacks both the mechanisms to effectively prove whether Bush and his family did or didn’t take money while at USC and that even if they found evidence of that they, the New York Downtown Athletic Club, nor the BCS have the cajones to slap down USC (take its championship or Bush’s Heisman).

That is the general sense at the Denver Post.

Don’t count on it. Don’t count on the Trojans giving up their 2004 national title or loot from the Rose Bowl the next season. It appears last week’s report that agents gave beaucoup bucks and expensive hotel rooms to Heisman Trophy-winner Reggie Bush and his family likely will amount to nothing more than raised eyebrows.

This should be a huge story. However, it is flying below the radar of a college football season caught up in the perfection of Ohio State, the return of Michigan and the inadequacy of instant replay.

ESPN’s GameDay has barely touched on it. Sports talk radio isn’t talking about it. This is merely a couple of headlines that will be forgotten long before Bush will.

The NCAA and Pac-10 are investigating. But this case is like investigating a mafia don.

“It’s very difficult getting people to talk to us,” Pac-10 associate commissioner Jim Muldoon said. “You’ve got to prove that it actually happened. There is enough smoke.”

Certainly, this may be without a point, if we take Bush at his word.

Honestly, if I accepted $100,000 in gifts, I might as well have stayed in college and got my degree.

These are crazy allegations and people don’t use their head when they speak about stuff. I’m not worried about the media; they do what they do best — write stories and give opinions. I don’t even read the newspaper or listen to what they say on TV.

Certainly, the small media coverage this has gotten has often centered on other player’s thoughts on the subject.

And while Bush continues to deny he accepted improper gifts from competing marketing suitors, the morality of his alleged actions seem to have elicited a “Reggie deserved every penny” reaction from various NFL players.

Horn, never afraid to voice his opinion, backs his young teammate with the kind of ferocity reserved for mother lions protecting their cubs.

“I don’t think Reggie did that, but if he did, I would have done it, too,” Horn told reporters. “And guess what? Eighty percent of college athletes that don’t have much when they’re in college get money, too. So they should ban all of them. They should go after everybody. Don’t just go after Reggie because he’s Reggie Bush.”

Jaguars defensive end Marcellus Wiley is a Columbia graduate and one of the most intelligent players you will encounter in the NFL. Like Horn, he doesn’t give a lick whether Bush took money from prospective agent while at
USC.

In his blog entry on NBCSports.com, Wiley concedes that while the approximate $160,000 value of the USC scholarship Bush received in exchange for his football services is significant, academic standouts also are awarded similar full-ride scholarships. And the academic stars aren’t under the same microscope (or NCAA restrictions) as a Heisman Trophy player.

Wiley suggests that the NCAA should permit colleges and universities to fund trusts for student athletes, a sum of “head start” money that becomes payable only upon their graduation. Maybe this will encourage athletes to turn away the predators — marketing types and agents — who prey upon them while they are still enrolled in school.

Jackass Scott Wolf screws up the facts when he gives a lawyer for Michaels a chance to talk. Still, the lawyer wants to force Bush to talk with a deposition in court (he thinks hte NCAA would be able to use the sworn testimony in their investigation),

Watkins said he intends to file a “fraud and breach of contract” lawsuit against Bush in the next few weeks, which would require Bush to attend a deposition and answer questions from Watkins.

“The deposition will be one of the absolutely keys,” Watkins said. “(The NCAA) can’t get him to talk but I can. They can’t get his side of the story. But he has to answer questions under oath.

We’ll see what comes of that…if anything.

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