USC will return its 2004 title trophy

The Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) notified USC on Thursday that it has vacated the Trojans' 2004 national championship, and USC announced shortly thereafter that it is in the process of returning the Grantland Rice Trophy it was given after that title-winning season.

Here's a statement from USC athletic director Pat Haden:

"Due to the NCAA penalties, we understand the actions taken by the Football Writers Association of America, and we will abide by that ruling. While we know that some fans and former student-athletes may be disappointed, our central priority at this time is our overall commitment to compliance, and this action is in line with the standards we have set for our entire athletic program."

You can read the statement from the FWAA here.

Three quick points.

  • As a member of the FWAA, I can tell you this decision was made after much debate and deliberation.

  • It makes sense: Whatever you feel about the severity of NCAA penalties, the Trojans used an ineligible player -- Reggie Bush -- that season.

  • But USC fans should take solace in this: After all the symbolic slings and arrows are thrown, everyone knows that USC walked away from the 2004 season as the consensus national champion, at least in terms of the football part of football. Nothing it did wrong -- by any measure -- gave it a competitive advantage.