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The "Bush Push"

Some fans and pundits are taking exception to Reggie Bush's "push" of Matt Leinart on the winning touchdown run in the end of the USC/Notre Dame tilt.

Did Reggie Bush push his quarterback?  Yes.  It's visible on replays, and in the papers Bush readily admitted to it.

But so what?  For starters, the push isn't what helped Leinart score.  I've watched the replay a million times now and what got Leinart in was when he had that awkward roll on his back and slid towards the sideline, the whole time keeping his feet moving (I guess those ballroom dancing classes helped?).  Bush did no more than push Leinart into the pile where he was initially stopped.  Once Bush fell out of contact is when Leinart rolled and scored.

Besides that, the rule is never called.  Im my lifetime I have yet to see that call made.  And in the name of equity, Notre Dame was guilty of no less than three similar penalties on Brady Quinn's crucial third down quarterback sneaks throughout the game.  A general rule of officiating is to uniformly apply one's calls to all game situations.  Think about baseball, and how umpires work.  The players and fans don't mind so much whatever strike zone an umpire decides to call, so much as he remains consistent so everyone knows the boundaries.

If during that final play officials had called the push (for the first time in what, 30 years?), it would have been a break from how they had called the game.  Notre Dame was no less guilty of similar offenses at several spots in the same game, without any hint of a flag going against them.  So why call it there, on the game's final play?

Lastly, I'm a spirit of the law type guy.  I hunch the reason the rule was first put in the books was to discourage teams from attempting rugby-style scrums, which are not really how American football is played and can also cause a lot of injury.  What Bush did, at best, was give a quick assist to a guy colliding with a goal line pileup.  By the letter of the rule, he was wrong, but not in its spirit.

Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis actually called it a heads-up play, and hoped his players would do the same. 

Move on.

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Reader Comments (3)

Good take on the Bush push. Consistency is the key. As you said, why not call it for 30 years (except against the Fridge when he literally picked up his running back and tried to carry him), and not call it earlier in the game, only to call it later in the game? Good no call, a no-brainer really, any disagreement with that is just sour grapes (yeah, I'm talking to you, Dennis Dodd).
October 18, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterGinn Fan
I was at the Notre Dame game myself and I could not believe my own eyes. USC winning the greatest game of an illegal play. "Osama Bin" Leinart would not have gotten in without Bush's help. He pushed him all the way in as you can tell from footage. This is how the game ended: first, Leinart completes the luckiest pass of all time, then he fumbles the football out of bounds, USC tries to call a time-out when the have none to call, and despite logic and without the use of instant replay, the Pac-10 officials award USC more time when it had already run out. You all know that USC got it handed to them. Notre Dame beat USC, end of story.
May 13, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterSean Mullen
If you watch the replay on the fumble, Leinart fell into the end zone after he was hit.

Notre Dame was fortunate to have even forced the fumble, as Leinart would have scored on that specific play.
May 14, 2006 | Registered CommenterCFR

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