Tommy Tuberville has been known to get into trouble because he has this nasty habit of speaking his mind.
Earlier this summer you’ll recall that the Big 12 was about to go out of business. Nebraska (Big Ten) and Colorado (Pac-10) had already left the conference. Then Texas threatened to also go to the Pac-10 and take four more teams (Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State) with them. It was a mess.
The remaining 10 members of the Big 12 eventually stayed together because Texas, Oklahoma, and Texas A&M used their leverage to get sweetheart financial deals to stay that the other seven teams in the league did not get.
Tuberville, who coached 14 years in the SEC (10 at Auburn, four at Ole Miss) before becoming the head coach at Texas Tech last January, publicly questioned how long the new Big 12 could stay to together with that kind of financial inequity (not to mention animosity) among the members. Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe didn’t appreciate the comments and publicly reprimanded Tuberville. Of course Tuberville raised a legitimate issue that many in the media had already written about. And he will likely be proven right in the long run.
“I just say what I think is going on,” Tuberville said.
On Wednesday Tuberville called and he was ready to speak his mind again. A couple of news items had just come to his attention:
Item No.1: BCS executive director Bill Hancock, appearing at Big 12 media days on Tuesday, said that if USC does not get any relief in its appeal of recent NCAA sanctions, there was a great likelihood that the Trojans’ 2004 BCS national championship will be vacated. Among the penalties handed down to USC in the Reggie Bush case was that 14 victories would be vacated from the 2004 and 2005 seasons. USC won the BCS championship in 2004 and lost in the title game to Texas in 2005.
If the BCS vacates the championship, it will simply be stricken from the record books. No one will be the champion of 2004. It will be as if the game was never played.
Item No. 2: The Football Writers Association of America has presented the Grantland Rice Trophy to its national champions since 1954. Most of the time the FWAA goes with the BCS champion but not always. In 2003 the writers chose USC, which had finished the regular season No. 1 in the AP poll but did not get into the BCS championship game. LSU beat Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl for the BCS championship that season.
(In the interest of full disclosure, you need to know that your humble scribe is a former president of the FWAA).
Among the things that will be discussed, FWAA Executive Director Steve Richardson said, is stripping the 2004 title from USC and awarding it to another team.
One option is Oklahoma, which lost to USC in the BCS championship game to finish 12-1.
But another option for the FWAA would be Auburn, which went 13-0 and won the SEC championship but did not get into the BCS championship game, setting off a storm of criticism in our part of the world. Auburn did finish No. 2 in the final Associated Press and coaches polls. Given the fact that the SEC has proven its worth by winning four straight national championships, it remains a bone of contention that an SEC champion went undefeated and walked away with no national recognition.
Tuberville, who was 85-40 in 10 years at Auburn, thinks it is time to change that.
“To me it doesn’t make any sense to just vacate those championships. Somebody should win those. And the players who played by the rules deserved to be rewarded,” said Tuberville. “If you’re going to take the championships away because people didn’t play by the rules then fine. But don’t act like those championships don’t exist. That’s not fair to the kids.”
Tuberville obviously believes that Auburn would be deserving of both the BCS and the FWAA championships. Earlier this year the Associated Press, which is not at part of the BCS but has crowned a national champion every year since 1936, announced that USC would remain its 2004 champion regardless of how its case with the NCAA is resolved.
The BCS has a presidential oversight committee that must sign off on anything the 11 commissioners decide to do. Presidents, by their very nature, are risk averse. They don’t like to rock the boat. And taking a championship from one team and giving it to another would certainly rock college football’s boat. And, as it turns out, the rules of the BCS do not allow them to do it.
“Our bylaws allow the presidents to vacate the championship but not to reassign it,” said Bill Hancock, the executive director of the BCS. “We couldn’t do it if we wanted to.”
But Tuberville believes that this is an unprecented situation that requires a little courage to do the right thing.
“A team that won the national championship (USC) may lose the wins that gave it the national championship in the first place,” he said. “If you believe that they should not have that championship, how can you not reward a team that played championship football that season?
“Give it Oklahoma, give it to Auburn or, shoot, give it to Utah (Urban Meyer’s team was 12-0 that season). But give it to somebody. I think it should go to Auburn because we were really good that year and we won all of our games.”
Yep, Auburn was pretty good in 2004 as four players (Carnell “Cadillac” Williams, Ronnie Brown, Jason Campbell, Carlos Rogers) were taken in the first round of the next NFL Draft. Auburn became the first school in SEC history to have four first round picks in a draft. Brown was the No. 2 overall pick by the Dolphins.
So what do you think? Put your own school loyalties aside, if that’s possible. If you were in charge of these organizations what would you do? If the NCAA takes those victories away from USC, do you still let them keep the national championship? If you take the national title away, do you give it to some other deserving team or do you just vacate it and act like it never happened?
The floor is yours.
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