On Monday, the BCS did what it had to do, and vacated the USC Trojans’ 2004 National Championship. It was a foregone conclusion that this would happen, considering that USC’s appeal of sanctions levied by the NCAA in the Reggie Bush mess was denied. Yet anyone who watched that game (or voted in that final AP poll of that season) knows who the national champions were (or not-Auburn finished the year undefeated as well). With Bush deemed ineligble for receiving extra benefits, USC used a player that should not have been on the field. Of course, this “punishment” is handed down six and a half years later, which represents a common thread with college sports decisions. It usually follows that the school that cheats has great success, all or most of the involved parties move on, then the NCAA swoops in, makes its findings and makes its decision. Of course, with everyone gone, those who are left behind or had nothing to do with the misdeeds end up bearing the brunt of the sanctions. For USC, it means another year with no postseason, a loss of 30 scholarships, and a fall from grace. Of course, it might not be long before USC’s shame fades off the front pages; the stuff going on at Ohio State threatens to bring a whole new case of wrongdoing to the front pages.
If indeed top-tier college athletics is a shady business, one need only look at recent scandals to back your theory. The University of Tennessee had to finally jettisonO its basketball coach when his wrongdoing came to light. The school’s punishment for those violations will be delivered in the next few weeks. Ohio State, as mentioned before, shoved Jim Tressel out of the way last week, and Terrelle Pryor may never play another down for the Buckeyes if the investigation into that school brings forth more allegations and underhanded dealings. Those are just two of the several schools that find themselves in the NCAA’s crosshairs. And you can bet that the wrongdoers will have been out of town before the Sheriff comes in to administer law and order.
As for USC, Pete Carroll, Reggie Bush, Matt Leinart and others who played on that team-they know what they did and how it was done. If you watched that game, you remember the feeling that it seemed like men against boys that night. On the field, they won what the BCS would call the national championship. That it was off the field behavior that forced the BCS to take their “championship” from them is only a formality for the record keepers. But it doesn’t erase the memories of the game in many people’s minds.