Officially, the 2005 Heisman Trophy does not exist. Oh, the trophy is still sitting around somewhere, likely in a storage locker in New York City after being returned by Reggie Bush seven years later, but the people in charge of the award have erased 2005 from the records.
To the credit of former University of Texas star Vince Young, that line in the official list of winners will remain blank forever.
Vince Young declined the Heisman Trophy
Appearing on the Pat McAfee Show on June 23, legendary USC running back Reggie Bush gave props to Vince Young for declining the Heisman Trophy five years after the fact.
According to Bush, the award was offered to the former University of Texas quarterback in 2010 shortly after it was stripped from Bush in 2010. Young, who was the runner-up in the 2005 voting and carried the Longhorns to the national championship that season, turned it down.
The rightful ownership only became an issue after reporters in 2005 uncovered improper benefits supplied to the running back and his family. It took five years after the fact for the award to be rescinded and then two more years for Bush to give back the trophy.
According to Bush, administrators of the Heisman Trust, which awards the honor each year, subsequently approached Young to offer him the trophy. Young talked it over with Mack Brown, his coach at Texas, and declined.
That earned him Bush’s lasting gratitude.
“It’s powerful, man. I think that’s so powerful. When I think about it, sometimes I get chills in my back. He had every right, every right, to say, ‘Yeah, give me that Heisman,’ and he didn’t. Vince showed me the kind of love that even some of the people closest to me didn’t even show me.”— Reggie Bush
The Reggie Bush saga was a mess for USC
Running back Reggie Bush arrived at USC in the summer of 2003 as the second-rated prospect in the country according to Rivals.com and piled up 1,331 all-purpose yards his freshman season. His sophomore debut included five catches for 127 yards and three touchdowns to beat Virginia Tech, and he had his first 200-yard rushing day in the regular-season finale vs. UCLA.
The 2005 season moved Bush to the forefront. He ran for 294 yards against Oregon and 260 vs. UCLA to finish the regular season with 1,658 yards and 15 rushing scores to beat out Texas QB Vince Young for the Heisman Trophy. The honor preceded the BCS title game in which Young beat the Trojans on a last-minute touchdown.
Bush declared for the NFL draft, and reports of possible improprieties, including his parents living rent-free in a house owned by an agent, surfaced that spring. By the end of the summer, Yahoo! Sports had pegged the sum of improper benefits at more than $100,000.
In October 2007, Lloyd Lake sued Bush and his parents to recover nearly $300,000 he said was provided in cash and gifts, and the agent began cooperating with an NCAA probe. Bush and Lake reached a settlement in 2010, creating a hurdle for NCAA investigators.
Still, the NCAA did come down hard on the Trojans, stripping 14 wins – including a BCS victory over Oklahoma – and 30 scholarships. School officials reacted by permanently disassociating USC from Bush and removing memorabilia related to him – including the replica Heisman — from campus.
Bush renounced his Heisman in 2010 and returned the trophy in 2012.
The case for Vince Young keeping the Heisman
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Reggie Bush’s phenomenal junior season at USC created an open-and-shut case for awarding him the Heisman Trophy, but it’s not as though voters needed to apologize for writing in Vince Young’s name at the top of their ballots.
Bush picked up 784 first-place votes en route to 2,541 points in the balloting. Vince Young, Texas’ junior quarterback, received 79 first-place votes and 1,608 points, and USC senior QB Matt Leinart was a distant third despite throwing for 500 more yards than when he captured the award the previous season.
Young is going to forever be remembered for his heroics in the BCS victory over USC, during which he completed 30 of 40 passes for 267 yards. He did not throw for any scores, but Young carried 19 times for 200 yards and his third TD on the ground, with 19 seconds left, won the game.
Young’s stats at the time of the Heisman voting included 2,769 yards and 26 TDs through the air plus 850 rushing yards and nine more scores.
Bush made a lesser impression in the BCS contest with 13 carries for 82 yards and six catches for 95 yards, but he did the work that mattered before the voting was conducted. His regular-season numbers included 1,658 yards on the ground, 383 on receptions, and 17 touchdowns on a team loaded at the skill positions.
Voting would have been closer had the balloting taken place in mid-January, but Bush likely would have won. Still, Young carried himself well that season, and no one could have begrudged his keeping the Heisman when it was offered after the scandal involving Bush.