POSTED 7:08 p.m. EST, December 4, 2005
by Mike Florio

He's not complaining about the so-called liberal media. Instead, he's pissed that the media is being too liberal with its assumptions that his star player won't come back for another year of play for no pay, and/or with the media's proclamations that said star is the greatest . . . player . . . ever.

Per ESPN's Chris Mortensen, USC coach Pete Carroll believes that the media is influencing the decision of tailback Reggie Bush to turn pro.

On behalf of the media, Pete, we apologize for acknowledging reality.

Right now, Bush ain't getting paid squat for risking limb on behalf of the Trojans. Yeah, he's getting a free "education" -- as if 90 percent of the guys playing D-I ball would have lined up the Pell Grants to go to college anyway. What Bush isn't getting is fair value in exchange for the millions that he brings to the school in the form of ticket sales, television money, bowl booty, and the sale of merchandise.

And with NFL teams paying out more money to tailbacks taken in the top five of the draft than to players at the same position who become free agents at or after age 25, its makes sense for Bush to cash in now, when the iron is white-hot.

We know, we know. We made the same argument a year ago when USC quarterback Matt Leinart decided to stay put for another year. Though he stood to lose less because of the position he plays, the fact is that Leinart would have been the No. 1 overall pick in 2005, and he'll now most likely be No. 2 at best in 2006, if Bush goes pro.

In Bush's case, a delay could be much more costly, especially if he gets hurt or becomes ineffective in 2006. Just ask Willis McGahee about the difference between what he could have made and what he actually earned after his knee got torn up like a fat kid gnawing on a chicken wing.

Even if Bush preserves his standing as the top player in the pool, waiting could be expensive because there's also a chance that a new CBA will be finalized within the next year -- and that the new CBA will reduce the windfalls paid to guys at the top of the draft.

Although Carroll reportedly is telling NFL scouts that Bush will give up his final year of college eligibility if Bush is "assured" of being the first pick in the draft, we think that Bush should go, regardless of whether he'll be first, second, or third off the board.

Here's some free advice, Reggie. When Coach Carroll tries to use the Jedi mind trick to get you to stay, remember this -- Pete has a strong interest in keeping you around. Also, Pete is getting paid for his efforts on behalf of SC.

You aren't.