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Auburn For 2004 National Champion? Why The Hell Not?

Auburn already has the ring. Let's make it official.

By War Eagle Atlanta

With apologies to Kinky Friedman, but I just love that slogan! Okay, also keep in mind that the content of this thread is purely speculative in nature. USC has not yet been found guilty of any infractions or been required to vacate any games, but as of this moment, that stuff sticking to the wall is starting to dry... 

But just supposing they are found guilty of infractions and are required to vacate games from 2004 and all of 2005, where is that going to leave college football? First of all, vacating wins is the new standard when it comes to NCAA penalties. In the old days, it used to be forfeiting games. The difference is that while an opponent forfeiting a game to you would give you a win, having them vacate their victory against you still gives you your loss. This distinction will be important later on...

So what's going to happen to the 2004 season if USC is forced to vacate their MNC? That year is already the most controversial in decades, and certainly in the BCS era. You had three BCS teams end the season undefeated, with a fourth non-BCS team added in the fray. But only two were able to square off, and we all know the fallout from that--an undefeated team from the nation's strongest conference is left out and the oldest wire poll disassociates from the BCS. And now this a few years later--the Reggie Bush Incident (RBI).

So, are we just to vacate the 2004 season from the MNC roles, or is Miss First-Runner Up going to get a chance to wear the crown? Maybe conference championships can be successfully vacated over the years, but not so with MNCs. Know and understand this: NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS ARE TOO IMPORTANT IN OUR SPORT TO BE LEFT VACATED. It is one void that will always be filled. Look at the pitiful and underhanded means that some teams will take to achieve them. We're just not going to write 2004 off with a big goose egg... 

Besides, it's a mythical national championship anyway. Throughout the history of the MNC, which only dates back truly to the mid 1930s, there's always been multiple claims for any given year not only by the teams, but by the myriad of selectors, too. Yes siree! Betcha didn't know that. There are more than just two selectors of champions in college football. There were 38 of them in 2004, and not all of them voted for USC. Granted, all of them are virtually insignificant, but it's proof that there's more than just one game in town.

So who's going to be the heir apparent? At first thought, you might look at Oklahoma, who was beaten by USC in the Orange Bowl. But if USC's win is simply vacated, that doesn't give the Sooners a victory at Miami. They still will have that loss. Besides, who knows a Sooner fan that would want to claim the prize like that? It's like the old analogy about un-ringing a bell.You can't do it. No do-overs in bell-ringing or college football.

So what about Miss Congeniality, Utah? Urban Meyer lead them to an undefeated season and a Fiesta bowl win, and earned himself a one-way ticket to Gainesville, Florida in the process. Sure, they're from the Mountain West, but they did have one selector out of thirty-eight choose them, so for the love of Ben Prather, why the hell not?

But that leads us to the poster child for playoff reform, the Auburn Tigers. Sure, bring up the weak OOC schedule for your first move, then I'll counter with the fact that they beat four teams ranked in the top fifteen during the season, compared to USC's two and Oklahoma's one. Their only problem was that they started the season ranked 17th, instead of 2nd, even though they did almost catch Oklahoma in the rankings to slip into the Orange Bowl. Regardless, all of this is irrelevant. It's over and done with--with the exception of this latest wrinkle--the RBI...

Two selectors out of thirty-eight chose Auburn as national champion that season, three if you include the People's Championship, which was evidently created at the last minute by some sympathetic Alabama fans. (who really know how to bootstrap these things) That's twice as many as any other team that didn't have to vacate any games. So how is this going to work?  

To say for certain, we are in un-chartered waters. At no time in history has a national champion had to vacate their title. I'm not really sure how the polls and selectors will work. Some minor selectors may update their final polls and change their votes, but I suspect that most will probably ignore it or merely table the issue, letting their results stand. Doesn't matter. Auburn would have all the momentum they need after USC's abdication for their own coronation.

Bear in mind: NO ONE WANTS TO WIN IT LIKE THIS. But someone has to step up into the void after the crown has been vacated, and no team is more deserving. Auburn has always taken the moral high-ground when it comes to officially claiming minor-selector national titles, but this is one I think they should proclaim openly, loudly and immediately. No Tuscaloosa chicanery by waiting a few decades when you hope no one is watching. I've even come up with my own Johnny Cochran-inspired battle cry: They Cheated, and We Were Undefeated!!