There's your reason why Reggie Bush will keep his Heisman Trophy.
|O.J. Simpson is reason No. 1 why Bush will keep his Heisman. (Getty Images)|
The Heisman board of directors have said they will address the matter if Bush is ruled to have been ineligible last season when he won college football's ultimate trophy.
There even seems to be language on the Heisman ballot about candidates complying with NCAA rules.
But none about (alleged) murder.
Yup, O.J. is Bush's safety net. Bush's parents might have gotten a free house. The Heisman Trophy Trust hasn't dismissed the possibility of taking their son's trophy away.
Meanwhile, the 1968 winner still is. Two people are still dead. If that wasn't enough to strip a winner of his honors, then why are we having this discussion?
"Barring him committing a felony, it wouldn't be justified," said Lynne Draper, head of the National College Football Awards Association. Draper is also the executive director of the Thorpe Award, given to the nation's best defensive back.
|Monday: The candidates|
|Tuesday: They wouldn't take it away, would they?|
|Thursday: The favorite|
|Friday: The challenger|
"For us to take away an award would be a major, major cause ... I would approach this very, very carefully," he said.
Actually, they're not going to approach it all.
Forget possible NCAA transgressions; neither the Heisman folks -- nor any of their peers -- have the stomach for it. They signed up for the award thing to be civic-minded, slap the winner on the back, sidle up to a jock or two and maybe sip a few cocktails.
To consider stripping Bush, the Heisman Trust would be going to a dark, dangerous place. It has no penalty process in place that we know of. Pursuing Bush threatens to overshadow this year's, and future, on-field races.
There are something like 20 national awards handed out each year. It's gotten ridiculous, really. It's easier to get on the watch list for the Lombardi than it is to get hired at McDonald's.
But that's the idea: Once a year, to get the kids some pub, promote the Rotary Club of Houston, eat rubber chicken and get home in time to watch The Office. These organizations definitely aren't in the business of jurisprudence when it comes to policing awards.
"Where do you end? If you took his Heisman away, you'd have to take him out of the Hall of Fame too," said the venerable Roger Valdiserri, a member of the Notre Dame athletic administration for 33 years. Valdiserri just completed a term on the South Bend-based college Hall of Fame's honors court.
Bush isn't in the Hall just yet. But a replica of his Heisman, jersey and helmet are. Reminders that not one of those 20-something awards has been retroactively revoked or repossessed.
It is written somewhere in the Hall's bylaws that "... post football record as a citizen is weighed ..." We'll say it again: The discussion begins and ends at O.J. If no one had the guts to yank his trophies, then don't even think about penalizing Bush.
Paul Hornung (1956) was involved in a gambling scandal and as recent as two years ago made national headlines with racially insensitive comments. Ricky Williams (1998 winner) has failed multiple drug tests.
On the moral/ethical barometer what Bush might have done hardly registers. It might not matter. The investigation already is bogging down. Neither Bush nor his parents nor his alleged sugar daddies have to cooperate with the NCAA.
And if you believe Bush is the only Heisman winner that might have had his hand out, then you believe Mario Williams was the best player available in the draft.
More than not knowing about sordid pasts, the Heisman Trust doesn't want to know.
The hall's only weapon is time. Barry Switzer, hit with NCAA probation at the end of his Oklahoma career, didn't make it until 2001.
The Heisman doesn't even have that. Actually, what is the right term if the Heisman police come looking for Bush? Will White Out be enough? An eraser? An armed militia breaking into Heritage Hall?
Start by changing the language on the ballot to read: "Anyone deemed guilty of disgracing the award shall have his name removed from all records."
The list starts with O.J. But first, the list has to start.
Dennis Dodd is the winner of the All-American Football Foundation's Fred Russell Outstanding Sportswriter Award.