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With a Revoked Title, Only the Players Lose

Earlier today, the BCS and the NCAA decided to strip University of Southern California's 2004 Orange Bowl victory over Oklahoma for the national championship.  In conjunction with this action, they also wiped the record clear of USC's appearance in the 2006 Rose Bowl against Texas.  This news comes, not surprisingly, after the NCAA rejected USC's appeal of the sanctions in place from the infamous Reggie Bush violations.  This final execution of the football program effectively erases three years of utter domination by USC.

The BCS Presidential Committee decided that they would not re-award the national championship of 2004, angering Auburn and Utah fans everywhere.  Tommy Tuberville, then coach of Auburn stated: "Someone should be awarded (the) title. If not, the team that had to forfeit is not really punished."

Sorry Mr. Tuberville, but you are wrong.  Plenty of punishment has been thrown around USC's way, and crowning another national champion would only hurt the people who have suffered enough from this entire debacle: the USC athletes at that time.

I know this isn't the most popular opinion, but by stripping USC of the national championship, the NCAA only hurts the players who were on those historic teams.  The sanctions will continue to haunt the program while they are in place, but the second those restrictions are lifted, USC will return to dominance.  And they will probably do it the same way they did during those years.  They will continue to pay expenses for players, just like every other big school does.  USC was made into a scapegoat; they could have easily nailed Auburn, Florida, Oregon, Oklahoma, or Texas.  The cheating, according to NCAA rules, is rampant in football.

But what about all those players who didn't receive any benefits?  What about the offensive and defensive lineman who made it through USC all on their own?  What about the linebackers and safeties?  Aren't they forgotten about in this entire process?

These players are exploited by the NCAA on a daily basis.  The blatant hypocrisy that the NCAA exudes as an "amateur" organization is downright laughable.  Billions of dollars are invested in these players to turn a profit.  And at the end of the day, most (excluding high profile players like Reggie Bush) players do not see a cent of that money, but they are left with the memories and pride of their accomplishments.

Now that the NCAA stripped USC of their title, eviscerating them from the record books, the only people who truly lose are those players.  Their hard work, time, dedication, and effort are all for naught.  These athletes gave three years of their life to their school and the NCAA and now the NCAA wants to say that it doesn't mean anything.  Those years never happened in their minds.  But all the money that those players made certainly did.

The fact of the matter is that the national champion is the best college team in the world.  And without a doubt, USC was the best team in 2004.  Yes, USC made a mistake with Reggie Bush.  They broke the rules and they now face the consequences.  But maybe the rules need to be changed.  Maybe the system doesn't quite work all the time (see: Tressell, Jim), because in five years these sanctions probably will not still affect USC.  But those players still won't have their names in any record books.

In my mind, the winner of the Heisman Trophy in 2005 was Reggie Bush.  The National Champion in 2004 was USC, in arguably the most dominant performance in national championship history.  And USC-Texas provided the best college game of all-time in 2006.

I don't care what the record books say.


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