File this under Empty Gestures: Six and a half years after the fact, the BCS has determined that Southern Cal was not its national champion. (Thank Reggie Bush and his benefactors.) Indeed, the BCS has decreed that, from this day forward, it will have no national champion for 2004.
Which will make Auburn folks mad, seeing as how the Tigers finished undefeated but was shut out of the BCS championship game because … well, because then as now we don’t have a bona fide playoff. But it really wouldn’t have been fair to name Auburn the national champ over Oklahoma, which was likewise undefeated until it lost to Southern Cal 55-19 in the BCS title game.
Can we debit the Sooners for a loss that now, at least in BCS eyes, didn’t happen? And do we know for sure that Auburn, with Cadillac Williams and Ronnie Brown and Jason Campbell, would have beaten Oklahoma, which had Adrian Peterson and Jason White and the fabulously named Mark Bradley?
(My question: Does this mean Mark Bradley’s silly fumbled punt against the Trojans is now expunged from the record book? All us Mark Bradleys can only hope.)
For all of those who aren’t Auburn fans, you now have a timetable. If the many investigations into the Tigers’ 2010 season turn up something damaging (and provable) — I’m on record as guessing they won’t, but let’s play what-if here — will it be June 2017 before the BCS reclaims its crystal football?
More to the point, should we care? As noted above, I’m no fan of the ex post facto title-stripping. Didn’t like it when the SEC did it to the 1984 Florida Gators. Don’t like it anytime. Once a game is played and a champion crowed, there’s no real way to take it back.
Southern Cal played for the title. Southern Cal beat Oklahoma by 36 points. That’s how I’ll always recall the 2004 season, and the Associated Press, which names a champion of its own, agrees. So far as the wire service is concerned, the Trojans remain the 2004 titlists. So far as I’m concerned, SC of ‘04 remains the finest collegiate team I’ve ever seen in person.
By Mark Bradley