A Substitute for War

Basketball philosophy

USC, BCS & the Meaning of a Trophy

with one comment

After Reggie Bush got his Heisman stripped, and USC got punished by NCAA, the BCS finally joined the party stripping USC of their 2004 BCS National Title. This sound like a really big deal. After all, it is the national title that all of these college football teams are playing for, right?

And yet, taking away the BCS trophy doesn’t change who won the championship game. Doesn’t change the fact that the runner up got completely embarrassed and proved to all they had no business even being in the game. Doesn’t change the money that USC made along the way, doesn’t change the exposure that USC players got and other players didn’t get. Doesn’t really have any impact on anything going forward for USC.

Of course that doesn’t mean there was something wrong with the BCS making this call. It’s what is within their power to change. Everyone else has stripped USC of what they could, why shouldn’t the BCS do the same.

However, I think it’s worth taking a moment to realize how little these official crowns mean. We all know who the best team was, and what they did wrong. It’s up to each of us decide how to weight those two facts when evaluating what was accomplished.

But let’s apply it one step further. In 2003 USC did not win the BCS Championship, and so didn’t lose it this past week. They did however win the championship as crowned by the AP Poll, the most respected college football poll there is. Those who were paying attention back then that USC didn’t just top the AP Poll but the Coaches Poll as well before the Bowls, meaning that among the human voters determining BCS Championship participants, USC was the clear choice. USC didn’t play in that game because of the series of deeply flawed computer polls that the BCS has insisted on using (and abusing through reactionary demands) through the years.

So USC is in a unique position already. With it being the only team that humans agreed was the best team in the nation to not get to play in the BCS Championship, USC supporters are already well aware of how meaningless the BCS Championship Trophy is. For those keeping score at home, this means that the BCS has now chosen twice to exclude the best team in the country from being its Champion, and both of those teams were from USC. Can you imagine how little this current decision means to USC supporters then?

As I’ve said, the BCS has a right to do what it wants in response to ethical violations. Practically though, I question how wise it is to further make clear that BCS Champion does not necessarily mean “best team”.

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One Response

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  1. a couple minor adjustments:

    1.Doesn’t change the money that USC made along the way- wrong . Money was returned not sure exactly the amount , but money was returned.

    2.Of course that doesn’t mean there was something wrong with the BCS making this call. It’s what is within their power to change. Everyone else has stripped USC of what they could, why shouldn’t the BCS do the same.

    Because in 2004 the BCS let Ohio St. keep theirs. Maurice Clarrett was declared ineligible for that season. To be fair why take only one away.

    Ian Campbell

    July 16, 2011 at 11:06 am


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