Reggie, Reggie, Reggie: A Fan's Perspective on College Football's Greatest Running Back
Part 1: How Reggie remembers Reggie
I know, you just read the title to this article and you’re like what did I just read? Who is Reggie and why should I read any further. Well, I’ll clue you in on something, Reggie is not referring to MLB Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson or NFL Hall of Famer Reggie White, NBA Hall of Famer Reggie Miller or Reggie Watts from the Late Late Show. The person being referred to is Reggie Bush, the guy that was just allowed to return to his alma-mater after being disassociated for 10-years due to NCAA violations. Reggie Bush was a character that was not only bigger than life in College Football but for some people Reggie was one of the greatest players to ever touch a football in the backfield.
Growing up in Southern California, Reginald Bush did one thing well, literally one thing. Whenever he had a football in his hand he ran faster than everyone else on both offense and defense. He was truly something to be admired in his pre-professional years. Highlight tapes can prove it. Reggie was simply better than everyone in the nation and ranked as the nation’s number one running back. Reggie Bush was largely unknown though outside of Southern California but once he put on the Cardinal and Gold of the USC Trojans, the world knew who Reggie Bush was and wanted to be like him. In my personal experience I watched USC football games just to see how many touches Reggie was going to get and more importantly how many times he would put other players on the highlight real. With Reggie Bush came a whole new platform that the world had never before seen. YouTube, the website that we now use to watch the Joe Rogan Podcast and the latest news information from around the globe was the site that launched Reggie Bush’s highlight potential. A five minute clip of Reggie running down the field left any audience in suspense because he had things that no other running back seemed to have prior. He was not a very large back but possessed the speed and versatility of a track star. He made the defense miss so bad that they would fly past him trying to push him simply out of bounds. Not only that, Reggie Bush perfected the End Zone dive which after him became a celebration on NCAA Football. He truly was the greatest collegiate running back of his time.
USC has as of 2020, 7 Heisman winners including O.J. Simpson and Marcus Allen, 39 Conference Titles, 11 National Championships, and 510 NFL Draft Picks (More than any other school in the NCAA). USC was no shy program before Reggie Bush arrived but after he did, USC began its climb back into the spotlight producing by far one of the greatest dynasties in College Football with back-to-back National Championships and Heisman Trophy winners. In the time that Reggie Bush was at USC, there were only two losses on USC, one was a potential National Championship in 2005 which would have been a three-peat and the other was to Cal early in 2003. The Trojans were unstoppable when Bush was on the field along with help from teammate Matt Leinart the Trojan’s crushed opponents and put themselves back in contention as the team to beat across all of College Football. Even the best teams in College Football did not appear to want to play USC. Bush was integral to that success with just over 3,000 career yards Bush proved that being the best running back was not at all about statistics. It was about highlights and the flexibility that he had as a running back.
The NFL was a different story for Bush though. He was a good running back but his days of magnificent glory at USC were gone in the wind and all that remained of his legacy was his Heisman Trophy in 2005 which he gave up after the incentive of penalties to be brought upon USC in the coming years. Reggie Bush was drafted 2nd overall in 2006 by the New Orleans Saints. While with the Saints, Reggie was a star in an offense already rife with talent like Quarterback Drew Brees, Receiver Marques Colston, and veteran Deuce McAllister. Bush joined a team that needed a running threat but also a screen option for Brees who threw to Bush relatively often in short yardage situations and Bush made good on those throws scoring 12 times off of a pass from Brees. Following his short tenure in New Orleans Bush traveled elsewhere in the NFL playing in Buffalo, San Francisco, Miami, and Detroit for the remainder of his career. Bush had very few highlights but still remained as one of the league’s more efficient backs from scrimmage.
Part 2: The Personal Experience
In 2006, I was at a first communion with my relatives when Reggie Bush was drafted by the New Orleans Saints. Like any fan, I was skeptical because Reggie was not an every-down back and his speed although college- worthy was mediocre at the NFL Level. Reggie was no Mario Williams, at least I thought. Mario was a defensive hound and deserved all the respect for this. However, Reggie Bush was a Heisman Trophy winner and the Texans completely ignored this relevance as Reggie had walked all over College Football like no one had ever done before. In College, Reggie had proved that he was better in every category at the running back position than anyone had ever seen. When the question who was the greatest Running Back in College Football comes to mind, three names come to my mind, Herschel Walker, Bo Jackson, and Reggie Bush. Although Archie Griffin has two-Heisman Trophies make his case for relevance and his 5,000 career yards at Ohio State do add to his resume. It would appear that Archie is behind three others in the conversation. Herschel Walker had strength that he himself built through hard-work alone. Walker was also a National Champion and proved to be a tremendous athlete. However, Bo Jackson, arguably the greatest athlete ever showed that playing more than one sport and performing well is possible. Jackson also has a Heisman and a stellar record at Auburn. The last guy, that’s right Reggie Bush was the guy that I witnessed growing up doing it better than anyone else and his stats although maybe not as tremendous as Jackson or Walker give insight into the fact that Bush was a better all-around football player than the others. This may come as a shock to some readers but my pick would be Reggie Bush for the greatest College Football Running Back ever. He was just better than everyone he played against.
I was Reggie Bush fan one hundred percent. He was more than just a college running back to me. He was a class act amongst a sport that was more focused on arrogance and patronization. Reggie never apologized and rarely ever spoke to anyone it seemed. He was quiet and to himself. He played the game, danced into the end zone and left to return to the sideline. Off the field, according to ESPN’s Documentary Trojan War (2015), Bush was the guy was just focused on being the best that he could be in order to make the team better. Bush was not a big-mouth and deserved the respect for his playing abilities. My father hated USC for reasons that I will not go into but even he liked Reggie Bush for “just being Reggie.” When Reggie played his first game as a Saint in 2006, I was in the Louisiana Superdome to watch him play. That Christmas, I got my first Saints Jersey and guess who it was. Reggie Bush was my hero as an athlete because he possessed character that many athletes with his level of talent did not have. The Reggie Bush that I saw on television was not the guy that took improper benefits, he was the running and gunning running back for the USC Trojans. Bush made me a USC Fan and like other USC fans I relished the moment that he made a big play because it seemed as though it would never be seen again. Since Reggie Bush’s Heisman in 2005, only two Running Backs have won since, each with a National Championship to go with their trophy but for as good as they were they simply were not Reggie Bush. Reggie left a stain on College Football that will not be seen again for another few decades because he was just so darn good