Considering BCS's stripping USC of '04 title

June, 6, 2011
6/06/11
6:00
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The BCS has stripped USC of its 2004 national title.

This is news akin to the "water is wet" variety. Everyone knew it was coming, even before the NCAA rejected USC's appeal of sanctions stemming from the Reggie Bush imbroglio.

[+] EnlargeReggie Bush
Matthew Emmons/US PresswireThe BCS stripped Reggie Bush and USC of the national title the Trojans won by beating Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl on Jan. 4, 2005.
Yes, it's one more embarrassing headline for USC. Yes, it's another dab of tarnish on a scandal that won't seem to wipe away even after six years. And, yes, it's mostly a symbolic gesture that changes the record book but not anyone's memory of what actually happened.

First of all, this was the BCS's only possible decision, and USC deserved it. Bush did commit a violation by taking extra benefits -- thousands of dollars of extra benefits -- from would-be sports marketers. USC admitted this in its response to NCAA allegations. What Bush did made him ineligible, per NCAA rules. So that invalidated all those games he played so well in.

End of story. That isn't a debatable issue. That's why USC didn't include the word "vehement" -- or words that even approached vehemence -- in its short statement on the matter Monday, as it did when the NCAA denied its appeal May 26.

"The BCS alerted us today that their presidents have voted to vacate USC's 2005 BCS Championship Game victory," athletic director Pat Haden said in a statement. "This was not an unexpected outcome. We will comply with all requirements mandated by the result of this BCS vote."

But some good will come out of this tidbit of news: We can debate its meaning.

College football, which doesn't have a playoff that ends all arguments, is all about debate. So the BCS decision will be great for folks who use their love of college football to satisfy their trash-talking jones.

In this corner, we have USC fans: USC won the title on the field. You don't lose a sports title in a conference room, particularly not for reasons that didn't provide a competitive advantage.

In this corner, we have everyone who roots against USC: Funny, I'm looking in this record book and I don't see USC mentioned under "2004 national title." The Trojans cheated, got caught and were disqualified. Enjoy that 1/2 of a national championship from your so-called dynasty.

USC fans: Glad you mentioned that so-called 1/2 title from 2003 because that just makes my point for me. First of all, in 2003, USC was the best team in the nation and everyone knew that. Because of a thoroughly discredited computer glitch, LSU and Oklahoma played a yawner of a game after which the voters in the coaches poll were required to rank the winner No. 1. The far more respected AP and Football Writers Association of America polls both ranked USC No. 1. The only folks who believe LSU won the 2003 title live in Louisiana or went to UCLA. And the AP has already said that USC will remain its 2004 national title winner. So, no matter what you say, USC won consecutive national titles and played for a third, even if the BCS opted to put a blank space besides Texas for the 2006 Rose Bowl.

So, that's your dynasty.

Anti-USC: I'm sorry, I fell asleep during your diatribe. And guess what? LSU still has a crystal ball that calls it the 2003 national champion. If you don't have the crystal ball, you don't have a national title. That's what you signed up for when you joined the BCS. Oh, but it doesn't surprise me that USC folks want to make up new rules when the rules that they agreed to follow don't suit them.

USC fan: I read between the lines and that's nothing but a lot of envy. You wish you were a Trojan.

Anti-USC: Well, &@#@!

USC fan: Oh, yeah, &*%#@!

I can imagine two guys going back and forth like this in a bar -- or, preferably, on the Pac-12 blog! -- and it warms the cockles of my heart, though I'm not sure what heart cockles are.

As for USC, defending its recent past has been backgrounded by a need to negotiate an uncertain present and future. No 2004 national title? Neh. Not exactly a priority when your team is trying to remain competitive after being docked 30 scholarships over the next three years.

USC is trying to move on and look forward. If it paused today to take a rueful backward glance, it probably lasted only a moment.

Ted Miller | email

College Football

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