*Newly hired Southern California athletic director Pat Haden says Reggie Bush apologized to him and expressed regret in a phone call last week about the NCAA’s sanctions that resulted from findings that he received improper benefits while playing for USC.
“He’s really contrite,” Haden told USA Today of Bush. “He knows he made a series of mistakes. It wasn’t just one mistake. It was a series of mistakes.”
Bush, a running back for the New Orleans Saints, has not been stripped of the Heisman Trophy he won in 2005, though USC has returned Bush’s Heisman given to the school. Two trophies are awarded for each recipient.
“He told me, ‘If I could turn the clock back, I would. If I could give the Heisman Trophy back, I would,’ ” Haden told the newspaper.
In Louisiana for the start of the Saints’ training camp, Bush said he was focusing on football but admitted he is bothered by the way the university has distanced itself from him.
“I think I’d be lying if I said it didn’t,” Bush has said publicly. “Obviously, it does, but at the end of the day it is what it is. All I can really do now is focus on the New Orleans Saints and just try to move on. It bothers me and it sucks. The whole situation is terrible and nobody feels worse about it than I do.
“But, at the same time, I can’t dwell on the negatives because I do have a job to do and I have a whole organization and a city riding on my back, not necessarily my back, but the team’s back.”
Haden said Bush was barred from visiting the Los Angeles school.
“I wish I could ask Reggie to come talk to our football team. I can’t,” said Haden, who replaced ousted AD Mike Garrett on Aug. 3. “He’s not allowed on the campus. But I think he would tell them what a big mistake he made and how sorry he is.”
Bush said he hopes his relationship with USC doesn’t remain fractured forever.
“I hope someday at some point it can be repaired,” Bush said when training camp started. “We’ll see what happens. That’s all I can do.”