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And Another Thing

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So what will Pete Carroll give back?

That's my question now that Reggie Bush has announced he'll give back the Heisman Trophy he won in 2005, on account of the fact that he accepted illegal inducements while playing at USC.

That's fine. A noble gesture. Can't figure out why it was apparently so important for him to give it back, considering all the other Heisman Trophy winners who doubtless weren't pure-as-the-driven-snow amateurs, either. But, fine.

My original question stands, however: What's Pete Carroll have to give up?

Look, the evidence is overwhelming that Bush violated NCAA rules. But he was a 19, 20-year-old kid. Nineteen, 20-year-old kids occasionally make dumb decisions.

What's Carroll's excuse?

Here's what makes my blood boil about this: People are all over the talk shows tonight, casitgating Bush and making all sorts of assumptions about his character or lack of same. No one, however, is doing the same to Carroll, who sits up there in Seattle with his plumb NFL job and his fat paycheck and has never once had the integrity to admit any culpability in the sleaze that got the book tossed at his football program.

Rip Bush all you want and take his Heisman (as the Heisman board was apparently about to), but Carroll's hands are at least as dirty. You really think he never saw Bush showing up in luxury rides everyone knew his family couldn't afford? Flashin' bling in the locker room?

And yet I've never read an account anywhere that suggests Carroll ever asked Reggie where he got all the merchandise, or who paid his parents' travel expenses to an away game. Not once. And please don't tell me he didn't notice it, because big-boy athletic programs like USC football have entire roomfuls of people whose business it is to keep track of this stuff and report back to the head coach.

Yet it's only Bush who pays the price. And it's his former coach who cowers behind plausible deniability, letting the kid he claims he cares about take the fall alone.

Shame on the man.

Ben Smith's blog.

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