Tonight HBO's Real Sports Investigates Reggie Bush Controversy
Tonight's episode of HBO's "Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel," will investigate the Reggie Bush controversy. This segment will include an interview with Lloyd Lake, the man who claims to have given Bush $291,600 in cash, living arrangements and other benefits while he was playing at USC.
If these allegations are true, Bush may be stripped of his Heisman Trophy which he won in 2005 as a Junior and the Trojans' may be forced to give up all of their wins in the 2004 and 2005 seasons including their 2004 National Championship. Aside from affecting USC's past, the outcome of the investigation may also have a great impact on the Trojans' future.
Presently, however this story doesn't seem to be as significant as one would expect. Here in LA where we eat, sleep and breathe All Things Trojan, it seems to be a big story. The rest of the country, however, seems to care more about Reggie's love life than his involvement with Lloyd Lake. Let's face it though; Lake doesn't have the curves of Kim Kardashian so it's tough to compete with her.
While Lake may lack the photogenic frame that gets love from TMZ, he does however have a checkered past similar to many celebs who can be found in the rags. In an interview with USA Today, which was buried on page 6C of Friday's paper, Lake is "described by his attorney as having been 'affiliated' with the Emerald Hills Blood Gang, has been arrested seven times, spent several years in jail and is characterized as a career offender in a U.S. District Court Southern District of California presentence report..."
This rap sheet could be one of the reasons why the Bush controversy has not garnered the national attention one would expect. In a "he said, he said" situation as this one, it's hard to take the side of the convicted felon.
This is where the tape recorded conversations come into play.
Lake secretly taped two phone conversations he had with Bush and his stepfather, LaMar Griffin. Portions of these tapes may be played tonight in the segment of "Real Sports."These tapes are a large part of the recently released book, Tarnished Heisman: Did Reggie Bush Turn His Final College Season into a Six-Figure Job?
Speaking of the book, there's more evidence of the nation's apathy towards this investigation in the numbers, as in the book's ranking on Amazon. Currently at the time this is being posted, the Tarnished Heisman has barely cracked the online booksellers' top 10,000. It is not even the most popular book about college football on Amazon, ranking in at number three in the category.
Two parts of the country that has some interest in the Bush controversy; Oklahoma and Texas have not had much to say on this topic.
The 2004 Oklahoma Sooners who were badly beaten by Bush and the Trojans 55-19 in the Orange Bowl for the BCS National Championship. The Sooners, whose only bright spot of that night was they didn't have to hear Ashlee Simpson sing at halftime, stand to gain the national championship that USC may be forced to relinquish should the NCAA find Reggie and family guilty of these charges. The Daily Oklahoman, who extensively covers OU sports have avoided the Lake/Bush story all together.
Should Bush have to give back his Heisman, former Texas Longhorn, Vince Young who was runner-up for the coveted award in 2005 would claim the honors. The Austin American-Statesman has picked up a single story off of the wire regarding the book.
Games and awards are won on the field. Bush may have cheated the system but taking cash did not make him a better player or USC a better team. It's not like he was pulling a Danny Almonte on the college football world. Bush may be stripped of his Heisman and the Trojans of their victories in the record books, but it must be difficult to feel victorious when the final score on the board read: USC 55 - Oklahoma 19.
We don't have to go back too far to find a situation similar to this, should the NCAA come down on Bush. Did you even know that Nick Van Exel's Cincinatti Bearcats are in the record books as the 1992 NCAA Basketball runner-ups thanks to Chris Webber's amateur status being compromised in a situation similar to Bush's?
Tonight's episode of Real Sports may spur interest in this story. There will be some new information revealed regarding the house Lake claims to have bought for Bushand we may also get to hear some of these recorded conversations. At this moment however, the general public seems to waiting this story out until the NCAA comes down with a decision.
NCAA spokesman Erik Christianson gave the following quote to USA Today in an e-mail, "The NCAA investigation into this matter is ongoing, and progress is being made."
Photo by Michael Conroy, AP