Get the Athlon Sports Newsletter
Does Auburn or USC deserve the 2004 National Championship?
Is Auburn the 2004 National Champion?
A curious questions since the USC Trojans were clearly the best team in the nation in 2004.
No offense to that fantastic Auburn football team that beat multiple top-15 teams and had various first round NFL Draft picks, but the Trojans are still the Champs. At least in my mind. Especially since the BCS title has as much to do with the NCAA as the Associated Press championship - which still belongs to USC by the way.
With or without Reggie Bush, there wasn’t a team in the nation that could have slowed down that Trojan attack. Just ask the Oklahoma players. Do you think that if you gave them National Championship rings that they would flaunt them all over Norman? I think not. They know what happened in the BCS title game that year — just like the rest of us.
We all saw what happened when two Heisman Trophy winners squared off in the 2005 Orange Bowl. One team scored 55 points and racked up 525 yards of offense while the other scored 19 points – nearly 20 points below its season average – and posted only 372 total yards of offense.
Reggie Bush touched the ball eight total times on offense in that game — so clearly, without him, the outcome would have been dramatically different, right?
His “illegal benefits” had nothing to do with USC wins or losses. Bush’s controversial behavior mattered only to some sleazy NFL agent-wanna-be’s future profit margins.
You know what does impact wins and losses?
Pay-for-play schemes during the recruitment of supremely talented quarterbacks. Whether it be for a team that won seven games by eight points or less and needed a game-winning field goal as time expired to win the BCS title, or a Big Ten power that had yet to win a bowl game against an SEC opponent until last year’s Sugar Bowl.
Folks down in the Loveliest Village on the Plains can celebrate what they believe should be their 2004 National Championship today. And just maybe, without Bush, that Auburn team might have given the Trojan juggernaut a run for its money.
But that is something no one will never know.
- by Braden Gall (@AthlonBraden)