In the best of circumstances, the much-anticipated No. 1 pick in Saturday's NFL draft may be a bit on edge.
Gridiron phenom Reggie Bush, though, is grabbing headlines for something other than his on-the-field prowess, and that's got more than nerves in motion.
Pac-10 College conference commissioners are investigating the circumstances surrounding the former USC running back's mother and stepfather renting a spacious new home from a prospective sports marketer.
Heisman Trophy trustees are also doing some "soul searching." Bush received the award, which goes to college football's most-outstanding player, after he rushed 187 times for 1,658 yards and 15 touchdowns, and caught 31 passes to score two additional touchdowns, during the regular season.
Today, the Houston Texans organization, which is expected to select Bush with the first pick in Saturday's draft, is "trying to get to the bottom of this."
"At this time, the general manager, the coaches, the player personnel staff are just trying to get information," according to Texans' spokesman Tony Wyllie.
With so much at stake, the months and weeks leading up to the draft are characteristically intense -- whether there is player controversy or not, Wyllie said.
"Our organization researches everything. We check performance on and off the field. Character, mental capacity -- everything is questioned before a draft pick. It's a major investment in building a championship team," he said.
The NFL defers to team assessments leading up to the draft.
"A whole variety of issues may concern an individual team," said league spokesman Jon Zimmer. "Until a player's drafted, the NFL has no real jurisdiction. There's no real issue created by the Bush controversy. Nothing illegal has occurred."
The controversy concerns a 3,000-square-foot home rented by Denise and LaMar Griffin in Spring Valley, Calif., just outside San Diego, where Bush was a high school standout. The $757,000 house is owned by businessman Michael Michaels who reportedly had plans to set up a sports marketing company built around the marquee college star-turned-pro.
That kind of arrangement could be considered an "extra benefit" and a violation of NCAA rules.
However, Michaels' plans appear to have evaporated after the Rose Bowl game in January when the 21-year-old announced he was forgoing his senior year at the University of Southern California and going pro. Bush then chose agent Joel Segal to represent him in the draft.
NCAA rules, however, expressly prohibit an athlete or his/her family from accepting "benefits" from prospective agents, "even if the agent has indicated that he or she has no interest in representing the student-athlete in the marketing of his or her athletic ability or reputation." And even if the athlete has no knowledge of his family's arrangement.
Neither Michaels nor Segal could be reached for comment.
Bush's character is consistently praised, and he insists nothing inappropriate was involved in his parents' renting the home.
During an interview on ESPN on Monday, Bush was questioned about the controversy. "When this is all said and done, everyone will see at the end of the day that we've done absolutely nothing wrong," he said.
ESPN is owned by Disney, the parent company of ABC News.
Bush declined to say who had paid the rent and, when asked why his parents had suddenly moved out of the home when reporters started asking questions last week, he said he had finally found a home he wanted to buy for them so they had relocated.
An attorney for the Griffin family, William David Cornwell Sr., released a written statement: "Reggie was not aware of personal or financial arrangements relating to his parents or their house. Mr. and Mrs. Griffin now realize that, given Reggie's public profile, their personal decisions can reflect on their son." Cornwell added that Bush's parents would cooperate fully with any investigation by the Pac-10 or NCAA.
Having moved on from college play, Bush would not face punishment by the NCAA, although USC could be hit with sanctions.
Wagerweb.com, an online gambling site, posted odds today on the possibility that Bush would be forced to give up his Heisman because of the allegations.
"If Bush is stripped of the trophy, Vince Young will get it by default," Dave Johnson, Wagerweb.com's CEO, said in a statement.
The odds ask bettors to predict whether Bush will keep or lose the trophy. If you bet $100 that the trophy will be stripped, the payout is $1,200, according to the statement. If you bet $100 that he will keep the Heisman, you will win $1,500.