Associated Press will not strip USC of 2004 title

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NCAA sanctions may force USC to vacate its Bowl Championship Series title-game victory over Oklahoma in the 2005 Orange Bowl, but the Trojans will remain national champions in the Associated Press poll.

‘The 2004 poll stands,’ AP sports editor Terry Taylor confirmed in an e-mail to the Times. ‘The poll is intended to measure on-field performance. If teams are allowed to play, they’re allowed to be ranked and USC certainly played in 2004.’


There was speculation the AP might reconsider USC’s title because it recently called for a re-vote for NFL defensive rookie of the year Brian Cushing, a former USC linebacker, who tested positive for a banned substance. Cushing, who plays for the Houston Texans, kept his award after a second vote.

Taylor said USC’s 2004 national title is different.

‘It would be impractical to revote,’ Taylor said. ‘It’s been six years. Memories have faded and the poll board from that year is no longer intact.’

The NCAA does not recognize a champion in major college football. For years,champions were crowned independently by the AP, which began its poll in 1936, and the coaches’ poll.

In 1998, the BCS was formed to help consolidate the championship process by determining a No.1 vs. No. 2 matchup via a rankings formula that incorporated the writers’ and coaches’ polls.

But that hasn’t always gone smoothly.

In 2003, USC finished No.1 after the regular season in the AP and USA Today coaches’ poll but third in the BCS standings, preventing USC from playing in the BCS title game.

The AP, however, still crowned USC champions after the Trojans defeated Michigan in the Rose Bowl. Louisiana State won the BCS title with a victory over Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl.

USC won both the BCS and AP titles in the 2004 season. However, the BCS will likely rule that the Trojans’ championship is vacated if the school loses its appeal on major NCAA infractions.

After the 2004 season, the AP demanded that it not be used anymore in the BCS formula. It was replaced by the Harris poll. The AP poll has always been conducted independent of the BCS..

So, the Pete Carroll era at USC may end up with no BCS championships but back-to-back AP crowns. And given USC’s history with the BCS, the AP titles might be more important to the school.

--Chris Dufresne