I can't say that the news comes as a total shock, but with big moneyed interests and college football you never know. This afternoon, the Bowl Championship Series announced that it has stripped USC of its 2004 Football Championship. From the BCS's press release announcing the decision:
The Presidential Oversight Committee (POC) of the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) today vacated participation by the University of Southern California (USC) in the 2005 Orange Bowl and the 2006 Rose Bowl, and also vacated USC's BCS national championship for the 2004-05 season, . . . . As a result of the POCs decision, there will be no BCS national champion for the 2004-05 season.
As described by the release, the effect of the BCS's determination is twofold: First, by vacating USC's participation in the 2005 and 2006 bowl games, the BCS and its member bowl committees have stripped all record of the Trojans having played in the 2005 Orange Bowl and (sadly, in a way) their 2006 loss to Texas in the Rose Bowl. As a result of their elimination from the 2005 Orange Bowl, the 2004 BCS championship that had been claimed by Southern Cal has been vacated, and will not be reawarded to another team.
The BCS is not a part of the NCAA, and is not bound by the decisions - including infraction findings and sanctions - of that organization. However, as BCS Executive Director Bill Hancock added in the above-cited release, the organization sees itself as the arbiter of Football's national championship and holds itself - and the teams competing in the series - to the same standards of eligibility as the NCAA holds to teams in other sports.
"The BCS arrangement crowns a national champion, and the BCS games are showcase events for post-season football," said BCS Executive Director Bill Hancock. "One of the best ways of ensuring that they remain so is for us to foster full compliance with NCAA rules. Accordingly, in keeping with the NCAA's recent action, USC's appearances are being vacated.
"This action reflects the scope of the BCS arrangement and is consistent with the NCAA's approach when it subsequently discovers infractions by institutions whose teams have played in NCAA championship events."
Mr. Hancock is correct in his statement that today's action is consistent with the NCAA's approach to dealing with ineligible players on a championship team. In the Fall of 2003, the NCAA vacated the D-1 Men's Volleyball championship won by the University of Hawaii, after the school discovered and self-reported the violation to the NCAA. A D-II Basketball Championship had also been vacated earlier that year due to the participation of an ineligible player.