23 min Read

IMHO Sunday: Love means never having to say you’re sorry

In my humble opinion, cardinal and gold thoughts on what I see, what I hear, and what I think from Los Angeles.

Reggie, Reggie, Reggie: For some cockamamie reason, after reading Wednesday’s USC welcome back press release regarding Reggie Bush and watching a national media interview regarding the return of “No. 5” to the good graces of the cardinal and gold, I thought of Erich Segal’s tear-jerking novel and 1970’s hit movie “Love Story.”    

In a classic scene from Love Story, our dying heroine Jenny (Ali MacGraw) looks deep into the eyes of her beloved but guilt-ridden Oliver and tearfully says to him, “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.” (see video clip below)

Knowing that Reggie fully understands he is beloved and seemingly unconditionally adored by his cardinal and gold fan base and after again watching that intense film clip from Love Story above, I visualized Reggie – who on Wednesday never offered or even hinted any public words of remorse or apology for his part in the NCAA sanctions – turning to his loyal USC fan base and saying, “Love means never having to say I am sorry.”

Reggie, Reggie, Reggie – Part 2: I think we can all agree that former Trojans All-American tailback Reggie Bush is one of the greatest football players not only in the gridiron history of the University of Southern California but college football, as well.

I also think most would agree that Reggie has served his 10 years of excruciating punishment for his and his family’s extremely poor decision-making, but everybody deserves a second chance – Reggie Bush absolutely included.

However, normally a second chance is generally accompanied by some sort of public apology or acknowledgment through self-reflection and/or remorse. Maybe a public apology doesn’t quite fit the comfort zone of this particular situation, but Reggie could and should have included something along those lines as some part of Wednesday’s USC press release. If that had been included, no problem here, and let’s move on. Unfortunately and disappointingly, it didn’t happen.

In Wednesday’s USC press release or during a national interview, Reggie Bush (photo above) never showed remorse or an apology over his role in NCAA sanctions.

Reggie, Reggie, Reggie – Part 3: USC athletic director Mike Bohn revealed last Wednesday that he and Reggie had previously met, and said old No. 5 showed remorse and deep regret to him as it pertains to the draconian NCAA sanctions. Bohn let it be known – and not surprisingly so – that Reggie also had a separate but similar conversation with Dr. Carol Folt, USC president. That’s great, that’s wonderful. That’s the expected protocol. Call it one step at a time.

However, given that Wednesday was such an historic and ballyhooed day in welcoming and reinstating Reggie back into the USC family after 10 years of NCAA mandated disassociation, why wasn’t there some kind of public statement of remorse included from Reggie to the aforementioned USC family and its fan base? Just what is it that prevents arguably the Trojans’ most electrifying ball carrier from addressing the USC population and saying in some sort of condensed fashion what he said to Carol Folt and Mike Bohn?

Please don’t tell me, “Why should Reggie say he is sorry, show remorse, or apologize, especially the way the NCAA treated him and how USC’s sanctions were completely out of line compared to other violators like Ohio State, Penn State, and Miami? Reggie shouldn’t have to.” Unfortunately, comments like these make Reggie appear to be the victim and distracts from his role in generating the NCAA’s attention to himself and USC.

The point isn’t that the NCAA is indeed a ruthless group of hypocritical, pompous administrative elitists. No debate there. The point here isn’t for Reggie to beg the USC community even for forgiveness, and I am certainly not advocating that. No, just come forward publicly, take responsibility, and simply say you’re sorry as in s-o-r-r-y. Is it really all that difficult, and isn’t that the moral lessons we teach children from a young age when they do something that affects others in a negative or hurtful way?

Reggie, Reggie, Reggie – Part 4: I am sorry, but I find it hard to understand why some sort of remorse to the Trojans’ administration wasn’t accompanied by some sort of public comment (video/press release) from Reggie to the Trojans’ fan base. It’s not enough, IMHO, just to show remorse to a first-year USC athletic director and a first-year USC president in private, both of whom weren’t even around to experience the pain and agony of this whole sordid sanctions fiasco.

Both Trojans athletic director Mike Bohn (photo above on left) and USC President Carol Folt (photo above on right) were both satisfied with Reggie Bush after separately hearing in person the former USC great’s personal feeling on what the sanctions did to the school and him.

Let’s make one thing perfectly clear: This isn’t about embarrassing Reggie but putting a responsible ending to this seemingly endless saga, which affected so many.

Reggie, Reggie, Reggie – Part 5: Wednesday could have been a public teachable moment for the many admirers that have looked up to Reggie. Impressionable youth and even some adults might have said, “Wow, if Reggie Bush can say publicly that he made mistakes and show some sort of remorse, so can I.” Maybe I am just too old school and a dreamer in this new age, but Reggie has the power to put it all to rest – if he wants.

Reggie, Reggie, Reggie – Part 6: In the official USC press release, the only quote and reaction from Reggie regarding his reinstatement was “I’ve dreamed of this day for 10-plus years, and I’m excited to come home!” Good for him, but no self-accountability? No public acknowledgement of culpability? Just ignore it?

No doubt, Reggie is incredibly happy that USC President Carol Folt – who has experienced her own public relations disaster by apparently not willing to make a change of her head USC football coach when all evidence overwhelmingly pointed in that direction – has officially welcomed him back as a USC football alumnus. Obviously, Folt’s edict reflects favorably on her and was the right thing to do. No quibble here.  

Reggie Bush (photo above on left) will not only be able to continue his work as a college football analyst for FOX, but he is now welcomed back to the Trojans’ campus to enjoy being an unrestrained Trojans football alum.

Reggie, Reggie, Reggie – Part 7: As for reaction by USC athletic director Mike Bohn – who has been successfully rehabilitating his own image after his rocky start at USC – he said all the proper words to describe what it means to have Reggie back in the cardinal and gold fold. Yep, Bohn, too, knows a little about being held responsible when he took the brunt – fairly or unfairly – when publicly announcing USC’s decision to retain Clay Helton for the 2020 season. Has anybody forgotten about that little firestorm? I am sure deep-down Mike hasn’t.

In Wednesday’s press release regarding Reggie’s reinstatement, Bohn said, “I’m confident that Reggie will use his incredible platform and influential voice to support and empower all of our student-athletes.” It would sure have been nice if Reggie would have used Mike Bohn’s comments to be that “influential voice” by immediately showing the youngin’s across the nation how one addresses accountability when being welcomed back to the nest.  

Trojans athletic director Mike Bohn is excited to have Reggie Bush (photo above) back in the Trojans’ fold.

Reggie, Reggie, Reggie – Part 8: Reggie has told a national radio audience and its host Colin Cowherd, “I went through a lot as a person. I went through a lot as a man. A lot of my confidence as a man was shot down and I had some struggles throughout my career in the NFL because of the things that happened at USC. … This always lingered in the back of my mind. It’s the thing that kept me up late at nights almost every night. It’s a thing that kinda haunted me too as well.”

Okay, I get that too. Reggie suffered and was hurt emotionally by the sanctions. No question here that it must have been horrendous. However, still no USC community public remorse, still the victim and how this affected him. How about how it affected “us”, those that have spent their lives devoted to or enjoying USC football? How about the un-enjoyment of missed bowl games and missed thrills of being championship eligible? How about those Trojans – former players, alumni, and fans – that had to pay the price after Reggie left?     

Reggie, Reggie, Reggie – Part 9: It shouldn’t be forgotten that while Reggie was making his millions in the NFL and attaining glory, those he left behind at USC were gifted with -beginning on June 10, 2010 – a two-year postseason ban, 14 vacated victories (including the 2004 BCS national championship) and the loss of 30 scholarships. The punishments and their residual effects were enormous, just as the NCAA intended them to be. No question in hindsight, the punishment did not fit the crime.

Reggie, Reggie, Reggie – Part 10: To his credit, Reggie has stated in the past that he understands the damage of the NCAA sanctions and is basically cognizant of his actions. Upon learning of the sanctions, he once told The Athletic, “It was a horrible feeling, one of the worst feelings in the world. It felt like I died when I had to hear that there weren’t gonna be scholarships for kids because of me or because of something connected to me. I’m still not over that. It’s just something you learn to live with.”

Reggie Bush (photo above) says it’s been a “horrible feeling” having to know he’s a root cause of the Trojans’ NCAA sanctions.

How does one’s conscience learn to live with this without a mind-cleansing public statement of remorse addressed to those he hurt the most? It’s the right thing to do. Yeah, he felt bad but still no apology? Maybe it’s just a matter of semantics. Maybe not. Maybe Reggie thinks it shows weakness to say he is sorry as an admission of guilt. I haven’t a clue.

Maybe apologizing or showing remorse or saying sorry puts him in some sort of legal jeopardy. I am not a lawyer, so I can’t address that. I’ll leave that to Arledge, WeAreSC’s wordsmith legal guru .

Reggie, Reggie, Reggie – Part 11: Hopefully, Reggie doesn’t think “I am Reggie Bush, No. 5 on the jersey and No. 1 in your heart. You all love me, you all idolize me” and he just leaves it at that. My grandmother used to say, “Why buy the cow if you can get the milk for free?” In other words, why should Reggie show contrition when everybody seems so happy just to have him back on campus?

A number of his former Trojans high-profile teammates have publicly stated that Reggie was not “guilty” of his actions; this is all about the injustice of the NCAA. As a former coach, I totally understand teammates defending their former teammate. I also absolutely don’t agree or believe Reggie was an innocent bystander or was too naive to know what he and his family were doing. An innocent victim he is not, and hopefully he hasn’t convinced himself that his supportive teammates are right.

Reggie, Reggie, Reggie – Part 12: In summation, am I glad that Reggie is back? Yes, he has paid his dues. However, I don’t consider asking Reggie to take responsibility by making a public statement of remorse as piling on or asking too much. I see it as the proper and mature thing to do regarding a highly regrettable era in modern USC football history. 

Has Reggie Bush (photo above) hurdled over having to show remorse directly to the USC community for his role in the NCAA sanctions?

From the press box…

Still the one: This week, veteran ESPN.com columnist Adam Rittenberg ranked the best coaching jobs in America based on a criterion and lumped those coaching opportunities into Tiers. The USC job was ranked in the highest level, Tier 1, along with Alabama, Clemson, Florida, Georgia, LSU, Ohio State, and Texas. You don’t have to be Mr. Rittenberg to know that when it’s done right, the head football coaching position at USC is as good as it gets with emphasis on “when it’s done right.”

Still the one – Part 2: ESPN’s Rittenberg defined “Tier 1” as follows: “Great location with excellent access to elite regional and national recruits; strong infrastructure and commitment from university and athletic administration; few financial limitations on assistant coach and staff hires; history as a top-5 program (recent or long term).”

According to ESPN, Clay Helton (photo above) is the head coach of a university that is ranked in Tier 1 as one of the very best college football jobs in America.

Still the one – Part 3: Regarding the Tier 1 Trojans, Rittenberg wrote, “Insular thinking has long been the big problem at USC. Perhaps that changes under athletic director Mike Bohn, who has enhanced neglected areas of the program. Coaches remember what Pete Carroll did and know that with the right alignment, few programs can match USC’s mix of location and championship history.”

Still the one – Part 4: The bad news is that Rittenberg also called the Trojans – along with Texas – the biggest underachievers of Tier 1 programs. I don’t think you will get much of an argument among Trojans fans.

Still the one – Part 5: FYI, the Tier 2 jobs included Auburn, Florida State, Michigan, Notre Dame, Oregon, Penn State, Texas A&M, and Washington.

According to ESPN, the head coaching position at Notre Dame (photo above) ranks as Tier 2, which ranks the Irish below USC, a Tier 1 school.

The post-game show…

Knee jerk response: Man, what a bummer to learn that returning wide receiver Kyle Ford has reportedly suffered what is probably a season-ending ACL knee injury. After having come back from a previous ACL surgery on his other knee, life is sometimes so unfair. No confirmation on how Kyle got his latest setback, but he’ll be back. Meanwhile, it’s sure a good thing the Trojans are so loaded at wide receivers for 2020.

The transfer game: Excuse me if I feel a little uneasy, and I admit I don’t know all the facts, but those two heralded Trojan quarterback verbals, Jake Garcia (La Habra (Calif.) High and now Miller Moss (Santa Ana, Calif./Mater Dei to be) have each been to three high schools entering their senior seasons. Maybe it’s just a sign of the times.

The transfer game – Part 2: For the record, Miller Moss, formerly of Mission Hills (Calif.) Alemany, has applied but has not yet been officially accepted into Mater Dei. Any bets he won’t be accepted?

Trojans quarterback verbal Miller Moss (photo above), a member of the Class of 2021, is awaiting acceptance into Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei High for his senior season. If accepted into Mater Dei from Mission Hills (Calif.) Alemany, it will be Moss’ s third high school in four years, the same number as the Trojans other Class of 2021 QB verbal, Jake Garcia from La Habra (Calif.) High.

Major props: Hats off to former Trojans linebacker Jordan Campbell and his Winner Circle Athletics in hosting its first Top 100 SoCal Showcase. Knowing Jordan, you just knew that when he finally got playing football out of his system, he would create something really exciting. For his program’s first effort, it was a resounding success.

I watched part of the proceedings on a live stream, and it’s not easy to execute a live stream – especially with so much going on. Considering it was a first effort, the best is yet to come, which should provide plenty of momentum for Jordan and his partners.

Major props – Part 2: All you need to know about Jordan Campbell’s first effort is the fact that the No. 1 prep player in the country – DL Kory Foreman (Corona, Calif./ Centennial) participated. And, for good measure, many other top prospects also showcased their talents.

Further review: In case you missed it, check out Erik McKinney’s first person report on the Top 100 festivities: https://wearesc.com/thoughts-from-winner-circle-athletics-top-100-showcase/    

There were good reviews for the first-ever Winner Circle Athletics Top 100 SoCal Showcase (photo above), which is the brainstorm of former USC linebacker Jordan Campbell.

Legacy to UW: Dyson McCutcheon, a 5’10 corner from La Puente (Calif.) Bishop Amat and the son of former Trojans corner Daylon McCutcheon, who also once attended Bishop Amat, has made a verbal to the Washington Huskies. Dyson called the Huskies a “dream offer” and has been leaning to UW for awhile. Considered a 3-star corner, Dyson’s commitment is a much-needed boast for the Huskies lagging recruiting efforts under first-year head coach Jimmy Lake.

The call-in show…

Caller No. 1: Mr. Greg, now that Reggie Bush is back in the good graces at USC, do you think that he should get his Heisman Trophy back? I am not on the Heisman Board of Trustees, and I have no idea what they’re going to do. However, I am of the belief that he was playing his junior season while receiving illegal benefits, which should have made him ineligible. In other words, he was, IMHO, an ineligible player, who affected the outcome of games. If this were a high school situation, most governing bodies I know (CIF) would have stripped him of individual honors and penalized the school, as well.

Reggie Bush (photo above) hopes to see a return of his Heisman Trophy, which he sent back to the Heisman Trustees following the Trojans being put on NCAA sanctions for Bush’s improper benefits.

Caller No. 2: Greg, I’ve been following your O/NSO USC Mount Rushmore positions on offense. Offensively, what offensive position group has given you the biggest challenge? Good question. I think there were two four-man groups that really forced me to do further research. Those two groups would be the tight ends and centers. Naming the first three players for those position groups weren’t all that challenging, but the fourth spots slowed the process.  

Caller No. 3: Sir, do you expect that at some point of the season, there will be some sort of attendance at home games? Assuming there is a season or a partial season, if there is attendance, it might come near the end of the season. With the coronavirus beginning to surge strongly again, who knows what things will look like during the season.   

If there is limited Coliseum attendance (photo above) at some point this season because of the coronavirus, it might look like something much less than above – both on the field and in the stands.

Caller No. 4: GK, I am extremely disappointed the Trojans can’t seem to get an offensive tackle from the NCAA Transfer Portal to commit. What’s the deal? Well, I share your frustration, but I don’t think it’s a lack of trying on the coaching end of it. However, at some point you have to look at the message being sent to these potential transfers. And truth be told, recruiting is also all about relationships. I am sure nobody feels any more sense of urgency when it comes to the offensive line than O-line coach Tim Drevno. I would, however, like to know the reasons why all these potential transfers went to other destinations. It’s so obvious that Drevno is looking for somebody to fill the right tackle spot.  

Caller No. 5: Katz, did you ever play or still play any musical instruments? I have played the electric guitar since 5th grade. I am not Eric Clapton or the late Dick Dale, but I won’t embarrass myself either. I actually have four electric guitars, which includes one 12-string electric. My favorite guitar I enjoy playing the most is my Fender Stratocaster, which I fell in love with thanks to Dick Dale and Keith Richards. I have also played the piano/keyboard since 5th grade, as well.       

There is nothing more relaxing in these days home because of the coronavirus than playing by Fender Stratocaster guitar (photo above).

The final word: Hope you have all noticed the new addition to our WeAreSC logo at the top of our front page (see below). It’s recognition of our beloved founder, Garry Paskwietz. If you scroll to the bottom of every WeAreSC page, there is also a great photo of GP and a brief, informative bio. It’s all a reminder of what he created and how it has impacted all of us.

Greg Katz

Now entering his 59th season of either writing, broadcasting, or just plain watching USC football, WeAreSC columnist Greg Katz began his affiliation with the website back in 2001, introducing his well-received O/NSO (The Obvious/The Not So Obvious) column and later adding his respected IMHO Sunday opinion and tidbits column. Greg, a former ESPN.com college football columnist covering USC, is also a member of the Football Writer's Association of America. He is also known in Southern California as a professional public address announcer, having called the the 1996 Rose Bowl Game between USC and Northwestern. Greg also holds a master's degree in athletic administration and was a former varsity high school coach of 27 years.

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