Trojans mostly indifferent to Bush's decision
Since Reggie Bush can't return the Trojans' chances of playing in a bowl game for the next two seasons, his decision to return his Heisman Trophy didn't mean much to Southern California's current players.
Coach Lane Kiffin and quarterback Matt Barkley led a chorus of indifference Tuesday night after the 18th-ranked Trojans' workout in preparation for a visit to Minnesota.
''It doesn't affect our team or where we are,'' Barkley said. ''I haven't heard any talk about it on the team. For the outsiders, I think it's a sigh of relief, but it doesn't affect us.''
It's also a bit of an anticlimax: USC's copy of Bush's Heisman Trophy was taken out of Heritage Hall nearly two months ago. The replica was purged - along with athletic director Mike Garrett - by the incoming administration of school president Max Nikias and new AD Pat Haden, leaving just six Heismans in the athletics building's lobby.
USC also removed Bush's jersey from its place of honor at Heritage Hall, and the oversized replica of his No. 5 vanished from the peristyle end of the Coliseum before last Saturday's home-opening 17-14 victory over Virginia.
''I respect any decision that Reggie made,'' Kiffin said. ''I'm sure it was extremely hard for him. ... These players don't even know Reggie Bush. None of them were here when he was here. It's not as big a deal to them as you may think it is, or a topic that we needed to discuss in a team meeting.''
The Trojans have plenty of their own problems. Although they're 2-0, they've dropped in the national rankings after each of their victories due to unimpressive performances.
Barkley and several of his teammates acknowledged Bush's talent and success as factors in their decisions to attend the school. Most current Trojans were in high school when Bush and Heisman-winning quarterback Matt Leinart led USC's most dominant teams on a 34-game winning streak.
''I still think he was a great player,'' Barkley said. ''He definitely showed it on the field and was worthy of the award, but his decision is his decision.''
Although Kiffin gamely responded to questions about more fallout from the scandal that left his program facing severe NCAA sanctions, much of his first year in his self-described dream job has been spent as the current program's spokesman on its past mistakes.
But Kiffin helped recruit Bush to USC, and he was the Trojans' co-offensive coordinator in 2005, designing the offense that showcased Bush's sublime talents. USC was unbeaten until the national championship game, when Texas rallied from a late deficit to win behind quarterback Vince Young, the second-place finisher in the Heisman voting.
''I don't think of that season any different,'' Kiffin said. ''I think of that season as a great year until the last six minutes of (the Rose Bowl), when we had a two-score lead and blew it away. Other than that, I have very good memories of it.''