The BCS stripped USC of its 2004 national title Monday, a move that came as no surprise. This is after Reggie Bush gave back his Heisman Trophy, so it’s not as if this practice is something new at Heritage Hall. I support amateurism and the ideals of the NCAA, though I recognize how laughable, embarrassing, and inconsistent their practices may be. Besides, what’s most important is that for all the trophies that get taken away, nobody will ever rid us of the memories and footage of USC dominating college football that year. Additionally, former USC fullback Brandon Hancock made another point that is worth mentioning.
Asked during an interview on 710 ESPN Radio in Los Angeles if the USC players are mad at Reggie Bush for putting the program in this situation, Hancock said no. Though he admitted he’s biased because he’s close friends with Reggie, he challenged the honesty of several other players. “If you can prove that there wasn’t one other player on the [Oklahoma] team that’s never got an extra benefit, then I could understand what you’re talking about. On the grand scale, Reggie wasn’t the only guy who violated the bylaws with the extra benefits.”
“It’s 100% fact that if you want to do your due diligence, you would find something … infractions were certainly committed, no doubt in my mind about that,” Hancock said. “If you want to cast a stone, it goes both ways here. … The better team won that day. Whether rules are broken are not, football is played between the lines.”
Hancock is right that the extra benefits really don’t have much to do with the game, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be stripped of their BCS title. USC’s star player was caught taking benefits on a grand scale, making him ineligible. There’s nothing wrong with stripping them to send the message that breaking rules is not acceptable. But it is fair to ask the NCAA to be consistent with their punishments, it is fair to say that USC was the best team that year, and it probably is fair to figure that most programs are violating some sort of NCAA rules. We even had one of the best coaches of all time admit just as much. You don’t have to approve of Reggie Bush violating rules, but it should be acknowledged he wasn’t the only one (on either side).