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Monday, June 6, 2011
USC's 2004 BCS title stripped -- so what?

By Pedro Moura


AP Photo/Alex Gallardo
USC athletic director Pat Haden released a statement after Monday's BCS announcement, saying that USC had expected its 2004 BCS championship would be stripped. What do the Trojans do now?

It was -- as USC athletic director Pat Haden said in a statement Monday -- not an unexpected outcome.

In other words, USC had long expected to have its 2004 BCS championship stripped. And when the Trojans' appeal was denied last month by the NCAA, it became a matter simply of when it would happen, not if it would happen.

The real question: Sure, the BCS had to do it, but does it really matter?

Who does it affect: the 50-some Trojans who actually played in the game? No. The thousands of USC fans and millions of college football fans who watched the 55-19 win over Oklahoma live in January 2005? Not really. Current players and coaches? No. Oklahoma? No -- the Sooners won't go down as having won the title, either, and USC will still keep the 2004 AP title.

Thus, this latest news is simply the next in a long, long line of bureaucratic moves that appear to satisfy very few observers and, instead, throw into question the very logic in attempting to erase the past. The concept of that as it relates to the college football world -- a new idea, really -- has been debated back and forth over the last few years. Does it make any sense to attempt to execute a Harry Potter-esque Obliviate charm on the minds of millions of college football fans worldwide?

No. USC must move forward from this, and the program did a good job Monday of minimizing the reach of the story within its headquarters and, for the most part, keeping it out of the psyche of its young players.

The only noise out of Heritage Hall on this day was a 50-word email from a USC spokesperson containing Haden's short and to the point statement and nothing else. And Haden's preemptive we-will-not-sue-the-the-NCAA line from January -- while angering some Trojans fans for its nonviolent mindset of sorts -- ultimately has helped the Trojans move right along from all of this sanction-related mess and focus on the 2011 season.

Why? Because USC will have no further reaction on any of this stuff, barring something entirely unforeseen. In the future, any more news on the NCAA and USC front will be created not by the Trojans but by an outside party. Save for a potential settlement or jury trial in the upcoming and sure-to-be-interesting Todd McNair v. the NCAA case, there really shouldn't be much more out there regarding the Trojans and the NCAA sanctions.

It sounds a bit odd to say: Nearly one year to the day after the original sanctions announcement last June and years after the NCAA first began investigating the Reggie Bush scandal, the book appears to be closing up on the issue. Sure, there could be a transfer or two leave the Trojans' program this offseason as a result of what Lane Kiffin likes to call NCAA-mandated free agency, and there will probably be a few USC players, past and present, who say something intriguing in regards to the story over the next few months.

But this story is finally almost dead. Finally. Almost.