Ray's Replies: Why didn't Reggie Bush reach his potential?

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Ray's Replies: Why didn't Reggie Bush reach his potential?

Q. I’m going to call you on the carpet a little bit here so I hope you don’t mind. Before Reggie Bush was drafted, I remember hearing you on the radio touting his ability, which was quite obvious at the time. I think you used the words, “He’s a once-in-a-lifetime player” and “He’s that special.”
 
If we fast forward to now -- given the fact we all have the gift of hindsight -- he didn’t turn out to be all that special. I guess my question stems from the point of view of a talent evaluator for a pro team (which I’m not). What was it that you saw in him that made you think he would be that good and what happened to him that it didn’t work out that way?
 
This guy was as sure as the sure thing can be, but yet he’s not an every-down back and is at this point an afterthought in most people’s minds. I remember how people thought Houston was crazy for taking Mario Williams (ahead of Bush) but he has averaged about nine sacks per year even with a shortened year last year due to injury.
 
Eric T.
 
A. That’s a very good question, Eric, and timely, too, because we are now entering the pre-draft season in which every potential draft pick is scrutinized, analyzed and labeled, often incorrectly or unfairly. Certain guys will be labeled “can’t-miss” and they may be total busts. It happens every year.
 
You are right in one respect, I really did like Reggie Bush when he came out of Southern Cal in 2006. I’m not sure I ever called him a “once-in-a-lifetime” player, though. I didn’t think of him in those terms. Special? Yes, I’m sure I said that. But “once in a lifetime?” I don’t think so. But that’s beside the point.
 
You ask what I saw in him. I saw a dynamic runner with great vision and instinct, a back who combined 4.35 speed with the ability to cut on a dime and make tacklers miss. What really stood out was his pass-catching. I felt he was a better pure pass-catcher than any of the receivers in that draft. He combined soft hands with the ability to run crisp routes. He was ideally suited for the new NFL, a game of matchups, mismatches and throwing the football.
 
And, yes, I was one of those who felt Houston made a mistake when they passed on Bush and selected Mario Williams, a defensive end, with the first overall pick. I thought Texans GM Charlie Casserly made the wrong call. You got me there. Williams turned out to be a very good pick. Charlie was right and I was wrong.
 
But you ask what happened to Bush. Mostly, it was injuries. In his first five seasons, all with New Orleans, he never started more than 10 games in a season. From 2007-10, he missed 20 games with various injuries.
 
He certainly wasn’t a bust. He put up good numbers -- his 294 pass receptions led all NFL running backs in that period -- but he wasn’t the Barry Sanders-type franchise back that most people, including NFL scouts, expected him to be. He just kept getting hurt.
 
That’s what is so hard to predict. If a player has a history of injury either in high school or college, that’s one thing. It is buyer beware. If you draft him, you know what you’re getting. But Bush was not hurt at Southern Cal and he handled the ball a ton, running it, catching it and returning kicks. Durability was considered one of his many assets. That has not been the case since he came to the NFL.    
 
That’s what makes drafting players so tough. I sympathize with Howie Roseman and the other GMs in the league because so much is riding on every draft and so many things can go wrong. We all do mock drafts. We all rate players. We have our sleepers and our busts. But only the GMs have to live with those choices and ultimately answer for them. It isn’t easy.
 
If I’ve learned one thing over the years, it is there are no sure things in the draft. I’m the guy who rated Cade McNown as the best quarterback in the Class of 1999. Enough said.

TicketIQ: Penn State to face USC in most expensive Rose Bowl this decade

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TicketIQ: Penn State to face USC in most expensive Rose Bowl this decade

Editor's Note: The following is sponsored content written by TicketIQ.

Penn State is headed to the Rose Bowl Game, and it will cost a pretty penny to be on hand in Pasadena on January 2.

With a statement win over Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship Game Penn State clinched their first Rose Bowl berth since 2009. The No. 5 school in the nation will face No. 9 USC in a rematch from seven years ago. Such a long absence for both schools in the bowl game is driving resale ticket prices to new heights, so much so that the Rose Bowl Game will be the most expensive bowl game this season – including the two Semifinal games.

On TicketIQ, an event ticket search engine that pools tickets and data from over 90 percent of the secondary market, the average resale price for Rose Bowl Game tickets is now $804. Not only does that make it the most expensive Rose Bowl since at least 2010, but also the priciest bowl game of the last seven seasons. If looking just to get in on January 2 the cheapest tickets are now priced from $346 each.

The showdown between Penn State and USC is so expensive that it will be more than twice the average price of both Semifinal games. As it stands now the resale average for Peach Bowl tickets between Alabama and Washington at Georgia Dome is $389 with a get-in price of $185. Clemson and Ohio State will clash in the Fiesta Bowl to the tune of a $241 average and $71 get-in price.

Prices are so high for this year’s game in Pasadena that they rival the 2015 National Championship Game. The first-ever Championship Game under the new College Football Playoff system, that year’s game between Ohio State and Oregon averaged a $858 ticket and $317 get-in price.

While Penn State fans, students and alumni raced to snag tickets during the general on sale, prices were quick to skyrocket on the secondary market following the school’s invitation to the Rose Bowl Game. On Saturday afternoon, several hours before the Big Ten Championship kickoff, Rose Bowl tickets were averaging under $600, marking a nearly 40 percent increase since that time. The cheapest resale ticket price has jumped more than $100 since Saturday, climbing from its $245 price tag since.