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Vince Young Turned Down Reggie Bush’s Heisman… But Why?

Back in 2005 USC Running Back Reggie Bush won the famed College Football Heisman Award over teammate Matt Leinart, and Texas’ Vince Young. Everyone knows what happened next, with USC and the NCAA vacating the Heisman following Bush’s receiving of ‘improper gifts’ from boosters. Recently, via an interview on the Pat McAfee show, Reggie Bush dropped somewhat of an interesting nugget of info. Bush let it be known that following the vacating of his 2005 Heisman, it was offered to Vince Young. As we all know, Young did not accept the award, and the 2005 Heisman Award is without an official recipient.

This story has been circulating over the last few days, but one that’s not as surprising as one may assume. Why? Let me explain.

1. The 2005 Heisman will always belong to Reggie Bush 

Reggie Bush's Heisman Trophy is in a New York storage unit | For The Win

With the recent news of USC re-embracing / recognizing Reggie Bush, one thing has become clear… Fans didn’t care! The general consensus seemed that it was long overdue that USC let Reggie come home. Bush’s popularity seemed to never waiver, even after injuries derailed his NFL career from the same level of electric play as at USC. If anything, the debate surrounding his controversial Heisman almost makes him more popular among fans, and a cult hero as a martyr being crucified for a corrupt and broken recruiting system that preceded his tenure. Bottom line, Bush’s stat-line made him absolutely worthy of the award, even in comparison to Vince Young’s great season. 

It’s honestly ridiculous that Bush was punished so severely for an infraction that did not have any effect on his in-game play. If this were steroids or a point-shaving situation then we’d have a different discussion, but he accepted gifts! Like every other big time college athlete! Which brings me to #2…

2. Maybe Vince Young Also Received Improper Gifts From Texas/Boosters

Before we jump to conclusions, there’s no concrete evidence of this. BUT, it’s certainly within the realm of possibility to serve as a potential factor for Young’s choice. If he did in fact receive some financial benefits from attending Texas, why put a target on him? By accepting Bush’s 2005 Heisman, Young would have a bigger target on his back for his own investigation. I generally operate as a college sports fan under a simple assumption: The vast majority of college sports athletes that are household names are receiving some type of benefit, either directly or indirectly. 

And – the Heisman being vacated once is bad enough, but potentially twice?! That specific trophy would be a worse fate than the Madden Curse.

Black History Month at Texas: Vince Young | Hookem.com

3. Not Winning The 2005 Heisman was the Sort of the Best Thing to Happen to Vince Young

Vince Young was rightfully ticked off when he lost the Heisman to Bush back in 2005. As a result, he galvanized that emotion into one helluva chip on his shoulder heading into the Natty. Young’s 2006 Rose Bowl performance was one for the ages, with one of the most iconic game-winning plays in modern college football history. As a result, why would he want that award that fed him so much motivation after being snubbed? 

Texas quarterback Vince Young got the last laugh by doing... 391057 - San Antonio Express-News

4. Young Accepting the Award Would Have Been PR Nightmare, With Zero Upside

The only thing worse than being 2nd place for something? Being named 1st place after the fact on a technicality. No thanks! 

On top of that, what’s the upside for him accepting it after the fact? It’d just bring him more criticism and flak. There’s no re-shooting of the ‘Heisman House’ commercials to include Vince Young years after he played college football.

Additionally, accepting the award would’ve vilified Young and put him forever at odds with Bush, which is absolutely pointless. By not accepting it, and even keeping that decision under wraps, he proved his class. Props to you, Vince Young. Hook ’em. 

-Mike Gilligan (@BigGilli, @VerbalCommitPod and @SmallStateTakes Podcast) – https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/small-state-big-takes/id1432138166 / https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/verbally-committed/id1516871465

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Featured image courtesy of: Julie Jacobson / Credit: Associated Press / Copyright: AP2005

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