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Still No Smoking Gun

BN is calling this Bush's blue dress... except it isn't.

Choppy, typo-laden transcript from Pro Football Talk's Rumor Mill:

In what could be the next big step toward a finding that USC tailback Reggie Bush was ineligible for all or part of the 2005 football season and that USC knew or should have known about Bush's ineligibility, Liz Mullen of the SportsBusiness Journal reports that sworn testimony from two hearings regarding a parole violation indicates that New Era Sports & Entertainment had an agreement of some sort with Bush.

Michael Michaels and Lloyd Lake founded New Era in 2005. Earlier this year, Lake faced the revocation of his parole from federal prison. At one of the hearings, Lake's lawyer, Marc Carlos, testified that "Mr. Bush -- or through his associates -- had made some type of agreement with Mr. Lake's group."

Carlos also testified that, after Bush signed with another group, there was a dispute over "representations made by Bush and his family to Mr. Lake's group" and that "they were going to discuss potential litigation -- or a settlement involving Mr. Bush's involvement with that agency."

David Caravantes, an NFLPA-certified agent who reportedly was being lined up by New Era to handle the negotiation of Bush's football contract, testified as well. Caravantes confirmed his arrangement with New Era: "Lloyd [Lake] and I had got together in October [2005] to start a new sports management company with Sycuan. . . . Since October, Lloyd was a viable part of the company, helping recruit players, and in the process of merging this New Era Sports with Sycuan. In the process of this happening, you know, it obviously hurt the company because he had some relationships with certain players who ended up not signing."

Lake gave the following testimony: "I had a sports agency that we had formed, and we had a guy in, Winston Justice, from USC. . . . Reggie Bush came into town. And at that time he was going to go out with us."

The initial significance of this testimony is that it removes any credible doubt that, at some time after Bush's family moved into the house owned Michaels but before the completion of the 2005 football, Michaels was an "agent" within the meaning of the relevant NCAA bylaws. Thus, if it ultimately is shown that Bush's family paid anything less than fair market rent after Michaels became an "agent," then Reggie was necessarily ineligible under the NCAA rules for each subsequent game.

More importantly, the reference to "potential litigation" suggest that New Era had (or at least thought it had) some type of binding commitment with Bush. If such an agreement was reached prior to the completion of the 2005 football season, Bush was ineligible regardless of whether his mother and stepfather were paying fair value for the house owned by Michaels.

Again, the college football angle of this story boils down to two participants: Reggie Bush and USC.

Right now nobody has proven that Bush has broken any amateur rules.  In order to do so, it will have to be shown that:

1)Bush had signed with an agent.  This story fails to address that.  It mentions an agreement between 'Bush, or his associates' to work with New Era Sports & Entertainment.  But there is no written documentation of this of yet.  Only the testimony of a convicted felon.

The story fails to address why Mr. Lake is in jail, but I'm certainly curious, aren't you?

Unless someone produces a paper with Bush's name on a dotted line agreeing to sign with this (or any agent) prior to Jan. 4, 2006, the agent angle is dead.

2)Did Bush had a hand in the home deal?  It will have to be proven that Bush had a hand in negotiations for the home, or was signing checks, negotiating, etc.  My read of this story is that his parents, the Griffins, are involved in the home deal, not Bush.

Being a college football player at a school two hours drive away, it's safe to say Bush was not a resident of the home.  Also, he has no previous experience with those kinds of matters, whereas his parents are adults and are much more aware of what the process entails.

3)The home deal itself.  Did the Griffins make rent payments?  How much did they pay?  Were their payments at fair market value?

The answers to these questions go a long way towards figuring out the amateurism issues at hand.  They are the real smoking gun, but are also what leads us farthest away from USC and Bush.  I think this is what is frustrating the pitchfork & torch crowd, because the most likely NCAA violation among these scenarios occurred farthest from their target: USC.

The Rumor Mill piece fails to provide answers to these questions, instead only adding the name of a convicted felon to the mix and distracting from the more narrow and vital NCAA issue.

Again, I hope the Griffins will provide documentation about their home deal in a timely fashion.  It will take this story to its next destination instead of the current hysterical, innuendo driven limbo where we currently are.

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Reader Comments (9)

The fact that you are getting so defensive over this is sheer comedy. At first I was going to take you seriously. Now there just may be something to you being nothing but a Trojan lackie.

It's to bad you are letting a cheater flush all your credibility down the toilet as an impartial observer of college football.
April 25, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterRoger
How am I being defensive?

I lay it out for everyone to play it out. The problem is when people take innuendo and false smoking guns as some kind of nail in the coffin for a very unclear case.

We do not know Bush is a cheater---you lose credibility by saying he is one (as BN has done).

All I've done is explain the process by which necessary facts will prove whether 1)his parents 2)him 3)USC are guilty or innocent.

Reasoned, fact-based analysis is what you find here, and it's to my credibility that I do so.

People wanted me to provide commentary for this situation, I reluctantly have, and then I'm accused of being a shill and partial for not flying off the handle.

As I explained in an earlier post, I've seen way too many of these stories to know how things go. Facts get lost and partisans lose focus on the more relevant facts. I've kept my focus on them---not avoided them.

Any 'defensiveness' is more to get a rise out of the BN folks because their brand of blogging in situations like this one is an embarrasment to the overall CFB blog community.
April 25, 2006 | Registered CommenterCFR
BN just like any good college partisan blog is doing the right thing and sticking to their enemies.

For you to be so defensive as the other poster kind of gives away your inherent bias towards SC.

Frankly they are exposing you of being full of shit. It is amusing to see you get so worked up over allegations against USC that is just not coming from BN.
April 25, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterSo Cal Fan
Oh please.

I've turned my attention to BN because they were the only blog wanting my attention on the issue.

I've been nothing but rational and realistic. Re-read all my entries. You're drawing the wrong conclusion and frankly the only one full of sh*t is BN as well as their backers on here.

I could care less BN's partisan stance, more power to them! Give USC hell, I don't care one bit. I'd have had a big fight with them long ago if I cared.

But when they take on a serious issue like this, they better get it right. So far, they've been recklessly out in left field, and it's a pattern for them.

I'll continue to stay on the rational, fact-based side of BushGate, away from the partisan fray.
April 25, 2006 | Registered CommenterCFR
Nope. If anyone who has been out on the left field on this story - it's really you.

Despite trying to act you are all high and mighty, above the frey, you got clowned to comment on this huge story after it's in its second day of being a huge national story not just in the MSM but also in the college blogs. You got embarrassed and punked into putting up a post this morning and then the rapid second post. And you are sounding like a bitter little baby it.

No wonder those Georgia fans gave you so much grief last year.

Right now only think you got going for you is that you have a nice set of links otherwise your "commentary" on college football is utterly worthless not to mention partial towards USC.

Like I said above ... you are full of shit.
April 25, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterSo Cal Fan
Look guys,

Re-read the Rumor Mill stuff. There's no meat on there, right? There's some tangential stuff, but nothing to implicate either way what happened.

That's my problem with the piece. We're going after false leads.

I'll gladly take a story that implicates Bush or one that exonerates him---something/anything with actual meat, though. So far a lot of the story is very much up in the air, and my problem is when people chase the debris and claim it's a smoking gun which is nonsense.

I'm waiting for a smoking gun, and we've yet to find one.

Even if there is one, we have to figure out what the specifics were before any kind of speculation on punishment. I've hunched on here before that from the looks of this story (unless new facts arrive), it's just too distant from USC and even Bush to result in any kind of severe punishment.

We shall see, though.
April 25, 2006 | Registered CommenterCFR
Do you even listen?

I didn't get clowned to comment. I waited
because it has never been in my interest to comment on these stories before. When BN got all huffy I gave them my $0.02.

Ever since the post, all we've seen in response is bitter accusations---just another reason why I don't like getting involved in these stories.

Any man has a right to defend himself against the myriad of crap thrown my way (bitter baby, full of shit, etc.).

Defending myself isn't being defensive, it isn't being a bitter baby---it's standing up for myself and my mission here. It's only reasonable especially given the ridiculous accusations thrown at me.

Any such continued accusation at this point is completely irrational and reveals the true intentions of those throwing the accusation like yourself. I've explained myself over and over again, so any lingering argument at this point obviously isn't about this but whatever other issues you have with me, which don't really fit the topic of the day to begin with.

My commentary is wonderful. Nobody would be here (including yourself) if it wasn't. Think about it.
April 25, 2006 | Registered CommenterCFR
I agree. Your commentary is wonderful.
April 25, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterMattLeinert4Evah
house.gov, eh?
April 25, 2006 | Registered CommenterCFR

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