Debate: Who do you call the 2004 Nat Champs?

Submitted by Seth on June 12th, 2010 at 8:37 AM

Doc Saturday made this the topic of his recent column. I would like to see the MGoBoard's opinion. Vote, and then if you want you can read my take (written as a response to Hinton) and reasoning. But vote first -- I don't think most people agree with me on this, and I would rather have the opportunity to change your opinion than tell you how to vote.


In light of the recent NCAA sanctions to USC, which team would you now say won the 2004 National Championship?
Nobody - The NCAA ruling does not necessitate re-rewarding the title.
Auburn - Undefeated, tough schedule, and finished No. 2
Oklahoma - Now officially the winners of the BCS Title Game
USC - Screw NCAA's record books; I saw what I saw free polls

Vacating wins, pulling down banners, etc. is the worst punishment the NCAA could come up with...for the NCAA. History isn't something you can change. Football games happened, and they had statistics and outcomes for people who had nothing to do with the scandal. Even if USC can't advertise it anymore, nobody's going to forget that 2004 team.

The proper way to hurt the program is to put the punishment far out ahead, so that recruits will have little desire to go to S.C. for a length of time double what the perceived benefit of the cheating was.

Changing history is less an attack on U.S.C. than the integrity of the college game.

Go back to 2006, when Michigan and Ohio State met for that epic battle. That was the year that Clarett told reporters about some shady dealings in Columbus (this is NOT an indictment of OSU -- the point is only that it raised suspicion among fans). Nothing came of it, but at the time, doesn't it kind of taint that game a bit if fans were watching it thinking there's a good chance NCAA will one day say it never happened?

What happened on the field happened. That is essential to the integrity of the game. There are other, better ways of punishing the program (I would add, also, that the next team that hires Carroll or any involved coach is subject to penalties as well). Vacating wins serves short-term interests for sounding tough and absolving the NCAA of blame ("See: cheating didn't affect our records!") when the league's own failure to regulate its standards to effectiveness deserves some of the blame as well.

It makes as much sense as an EPA fine including a caveat that any product put out by the offending company while out of compliance was never made. Remember that electricity you had from 1998-2002 near the plant that, it turns out, expanded without a permit? Sorry, folks, you were actually in the dark.

Those most punished by vacating wins are the fans, since we are told to screw our memories, O'Brien style, to account for what is essentially a lie. Much as I am happy to see USC hit for these violations, I refuse to change my memory of 2004 to make Oklahoma (who, being the de-facto winner of the BCS Nat Championship game now) or Auburn the champions. USC was the best team in 2004. That they cheated to become so is now fact, but no less fact than the dominance we all witnessed on the field, and which I will continue to countenance.



June 12th, 2010 at 9:27 AM ^

I think Alabama has already retroactively included itself as the MNC. They seem to have about 8 of those type of NC's as it is. I can't see why they'd pass us on this one either.


June 12th, 2010 at 9:32 AM ^

I personally liked that team and thought they should have gotten in the title game. They didn't really have to even pass the ball with Cadillac Williams and Ronnie Brown.


June 12th, 2010 at 10:44 AM ^

"They didn't really have to even pass the ball with Cadillac Williams and Ronnie Brown."

True, but they did! OC Al Borges took Jason Campbell from underachiever to All-SEC caliber in just one season.

At least four ballcarriers from that offense are playing in the pros - Williams, Brown, Campbell and Devin Aromashudu (sp?)


June 12th, 2010 at 9:32 AM ^

They won't do anything effective with regard to punishment because they are unimaginative, parochial schmucks. Also, dominant (albeit ill-composed) teams such as USC of late bring in massive revenue. They don't want to hurt their cash flows -- but they are interested in giving a facade of justice to absolve themselves of further responsibility.

On topic: Voted "None" because USC vacating a win does not mean OU also vacates a loss... and with the BCS "There can be only one!!!!!!11!one"


June 12th, 2010 at 9:34 AM ^

After 55-19, I'm pretty sure they still beat OU even without Bush.  Auburn had a great team, but that OU squad also had Adrian Peterson and still got smoked, not to mention SC had beaten them pretty easily (22-0 at Auburn in Leinart's first game) the year before. 

It is a shame we have to have this conversation and that the hard work and accomplishments of so many players are tainted because one slimey guy can't seem to resist the lure of easy cash and Ray J's sloppy seconds.

Trust the Process

June 12th, 2010 at 9:37 AM ^

I agree with your argument.  Punish the team going forward, but don't try and change history.  While Auburn seems like a logical choice to name the new national champion (since they were undefeated) for 2004, other years might prove to be more difficult.  If three teams had one loss at the end of the year, who would be declared the national champ?  I can see a lot of complaining from fans over this type of decision.


June 12th, 2010 at 10:10 AM ^

I voted Auburn. I don't have a problem with USC being stripped of the title. But I do have a problem with Oklahoma being awarded it. They still lost that game. The title is awarded after the season is over, and the second-best team that season was Auburn. So either give it Auburn or no one, but not Oklahoma. You have to win the title on the field.

st barth

June 12th, 2010 at 10:20 AM ^

The "National Championship" is a mythical beast anyhow and has always been open to debate.  Titles awarded via polls are full of human error and politics.  The BCS championship (& their little trophy) is awarded on the strength of a one game, invitation only playoff that, frankly, makes their title pretty dubious.

Personally, if I was USC, I would be more disappointed with the stripping of the Pac-Ten championship because that is something credible.


June 12th, 2010 at 11:20 AM ^

If we're going to vacate any USC wins, I'd go back to the 1979 Rose Bowl and reverse the "Phantom Touchdown."

Still pissed about that game.


Space Coyote

June 12th, 2010 at 11:56 AM ^

And all of you that vote otherwise are just jealous!




Still, it's USC, what happened is done. The fab 5 made it to the final four and USC won the national championship.

Mr. Robot

June 12th, 2010 at 12:31 PM ^

Went undefeated and didn't cheat. I would be willing to say Oklahoma if they hadn't been destroyed by USC, but given the score, I think they would have lost with or without Bush.

How about we just have Auburn and Utah play each other for it?


June 12th, 2010 at 12:56 PM ^

It's kind of amusing that people would vote for Auburn and Oklahoma, two schools with a long history of rules violations themselves. 

Here's the truth: college sports are far, far dirtier than most fans want to admit.  If the NCAA had the resources and legal authority to investigate every school, every year, we'd have a nearly empty record book to look at.  I'd bet my life savings that some of the Oklahoma players that got their asses kicked by SC were bought and paid for, too.  (Not to mention that it's a virtual certainty that academic fraud goes on just about everywhere, to varying degrees.  It takes an incredible amount of compartmentalization to believe the fiction that a bunch of players coming in with 2.5 high school GPAs (which were probably artificially boosted to begin with) can somehow manage to do all their coursework legitimately to graduate from prestigious universities.)