Forget Reggie Bush losing his Heisman trophy; USC could be facing a much greater loss — their 2004 BcS crystal football.
That’s according to Steve Wieberg of USA Today, who reports that the Trojans could be stripped of their 2004 national title if the NCAA finds the football program committed major violations.
The NCAA’s report on its investigation into both the football and basketball programs could come down any day now — any day now… any day now… — and sanctions, if there are any, would be handed down at that time. If it’s found that Bush received illegal benefits starting in 2004, and the football program was found to be culpable, the former Trojan great would be ruled retroactively ineligible and the Trojans could be forced to vacate wins from 2004 and 2005.
If that’s the case, a previously unknown BcS stipulation, enacted after the probe into the Bush allegations began, would kick in.
Quietly in early 2007, as the investigation into USC and alleged improprieties involving Bush and his family was unfolding, college football’s Bowl Championship Series drew up a policy calling for teams’ BCS appearances and BCS titles to be vacated when major rules violations subsequently are discovered and the institutions are sanctioned by the NCAA. Current BCS executive director Bill Hancock confirmed the provision Wednesday. …
“[Vacated wins] would be the BCS’ cue. Its policy stipulates: “When the NCAA or a conference makes a finding of violations … and imposes a sanction of forfeiture or vacation of contests in which an ineligible student-athlete participated, we will presume that vacation of participation in a BCS bowl game is warranted.” That’s if the player in question participated in that BCS game or in victories that led to the bowl berth.
BcS director Bill Hancock confirmed the provision to USA Today Wednesday, but also added it would not kick in “until the very end of the NCAA process, including all appeals.”
Obviously, we’re still a long way from knowing how this will all play out, and would only begin to play out if the triggering sanctions were slapped on USC by the NCAA, but it does beg the question: what would happen to the 2004 title if it is indeed ripped from USC?
Would it go to Oklahoma, who got their asses handed to them in the title game by the score of 55-19? Would it go to Auburn, who finished the season unblemished at 13-0? Or would there simply be no “official” national champion for that season?
Your mileage may vary but, from what I remember of that season, USC was hands down the best football team in the country. And it wasn’t really close.
Whether or not they used a retroactively ineligible player would not change that.
(Tip O’ the Hat: Dr. Saturday)