Saturday, December 10, 2005

ATH: It's Bush . . . no, the good one

While i think Vince Young is the best player in the country. There's no doubt Reggie Bush is an incredible running back. There were a lot of years when running backs were getting this award that never fulfilled any promise in the NFL. Since that time, quarterbacks have reined. So, expecially in that regard, i think that the first truly great running back to come along in some time is most deserving. Congrats to him.

Bush's Mad Dash Comes to Stop With the Heisman
By LEE JENKINS, The New York Times, December 11, 2005

Reggie Bush's broken-field run to the Heisman Trophy had a familiar feel.

There was the quick first step. The onrush of opponents. Then the cutback, the spin move and the finishing speed.

As usual, he left his pursuers breathlessly behind and the crowd chanting his first name. In New York last night, as he received the award at the Nokia Theater, the sound of "Reg-gie! Reg-gie!" had even more significance.

Bush, the University of Southern California's star tailback, separated himself from his competitors as if they were U.C.L.A. linemen. Texas quarterback Vince Young, already considered a favorite for next year's Heisman, finished a distant second in the balloting. U.S.C. quarterback Matt Leinart, who won last year's Heisman, finished third. Bush won every region of the country with relative ease and even picked up the first-place vote on the ballot cast by Leinart.

In the past four years, the Trojans have reached four Bowl Championship Series games and delivered three Heisman Trophy winners, proving they can be as successful at winning awards as they are at winning games. "I've been in college for three years," Bush said. "And this is the first time I've been invited to a fraternity."

Bush became the seventh Heisman Trophy winner from U.S.C. and the fourth Heisman-Trophy-winning running back from San Diego. The three finalists - Bush, Leinart and Young - will meet again at the Rose Bowl on Jan. 4, when the Trojans and the Longhorns will decide the B.C.S. national title in Pasadena, Calif. That Bush beat Young for this individual honor will only add to the hype.

"Right now, I feel like I let my guys down," Young said. "Right now, I feel like I let my family down. I feel like I let Houston and Austin down."

He added: "This will give me a little more edge, a little more ego."

As Young spoke, the pain evident in his voice, he sounded like the only person in the room who was surprised by the outcome. Asked about Young's disappointment, Bush's response included: "That's not my problem."

Young might have meant more to his team this season than any other player, and Leinart might have handled the most pressure, but nobody brought as much attention to college football as Bush.

He is a highlight-maker in a highlight world, the rare athlete in any sport who commands attention every time he is in action.

One year ago, when Leinart won the Heisman Trophy and Bush was a finalist, U.S.C.'s athletic director, Mike Garrett, told him: "You know you're going to be up there."

Bush replied: "I know."

In this era of trash talk and touchdown dances, his prediction might have sounded pompous. But it only illustrated the intensity with which he pursued the award. After U.S.C. beat California last month, Bush appeared downtrodden in the locker room because he had only 82 rushing yards. If the votes had been cast that day, Young probably would have been an easy winner.

But one week later, against an opponent from a non-B.C.S. conference, in a game that ended after 2 a.m. on the East Coast, Bush produced the signature performance of 2005. When fans woke up Sunday, Nov. 20, they realized what they had missed. Bush's 513 total yards against Fresno State included enough spin moves, jump stops and slipped tackles to jam the highlight shows.

While Young and Leinart relaxed in the green room last night, making goofy hand gestures for the television cameras, Bush sat quietly in his pinstriped three-piece suit, chomping on a piece of gum, looking like he was getting ready for a red-zone run. He went over his acceptance speech over and over in his mind. "He was in game mode," Leinart said.

To some, Bush's appearance at the Nokia Theater might have been the most mundane of his career. He did not hurdle the presenters or do one of his trademark flips when he picked up the trophy. He simply bowed his head and ambled to the stage, assuming a slower pace than many believed he was capable of.

Although Bush generally acts as stern as a stiff-arm, he wept openly when talking about his stepfather, LaMar Griffin, who helped raise him in San Diego. Bush's biological father, Reggie Bush Sr., lives about seven miles from the U.S.C. campus, but the two barely speak to each other. Bush has been referring to Griffin as his father since he was 2.

Bush did not address speculation that he would skip his senior season to enter the N.F.L. draft, but he did talk about the possibility of returning to New York soon. "I could definitely see myself playing here, playing for the New York Jets," Bush said.

The ceremony had extra electricity simply because Bush was in attendance. Over the past 10 years, Heisman winners have included Danny Wuerffel, Ron Dayne, Chris Weinke and Eric Crouch, all highly successful in college but somewhat forgettable. Bush did for the trophy presentation what he had done for college football - made it really worth watching.

More difficult than choosing the best player in the country was choosing his best play. The toughest task might have fallen to the ESPN producer who had to decide which of Bush's highlights to include in the montage and which to take out.

There was the punt return at Washington where he evaded eight tacklers; the touchdown run at Oregon where he made a semicircle to the end zone; the dash against Fresno State where he went from one sideline to the other; the push at Notre Dame where he shoved Leinart over the goal line.

Bush did not convince voters so much as he dazzled them. He averaged more than 8 yards a carry. He had 36 plays of 20 yards or more. But numbers did not do him justice.

He had to be seen.