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They wuz robbed

We are now unanimously No. 1,” Orange Bowl MVP Matt Leinart said moments after his Trojans trampled Oklahoma’s Sooners 55-19 Tuesday night.

Unanimous?

Despite what you’ve been reading in every newspaper outside the state of Alabama this week, long after the counterfeit championship celebration came to an end in Miami, the USC Trojans are not college football’s undisputed national champs.



“Anybody who thought that (Tuesday) was a championship game, I beg to differ,” said Tommy Tuberville, coach of the 13-0 Auburn Tigers on Wednesday morning. “I’m disappointed that with the type of team we had, as balanced as we were, we did not get a chance to play in that game.”

Hmmmm.




That sounds familiar.

“I think we just won the national championship,” said Pete Carroll, after a 28-14 win over No. 4 Michigan on Jan. 1, 2004. “I think it’s clear that we did everything we needed to.”

SoCal, you bunch of hypocrites.

How soon you forget. Was it not just 12 months ago, that we listened to Carroll claim that share of the national crown, despite the fact that his Trojans, like Tuberville’s Tigers on Tuesday, weren’t even playing in the BCS title game?

Carroll was correct then and now, stating the Trojans did all they could to win the championship – producing a perfect season record.

But so did Auburn.

Once again, the BCS has proven itself pointless, even irrelevant. The formula used by college football officials to place the top two teams in a national championship game failed again.

And how could it not? Four teams finished regular season play unbeaten – USC, Oklahoma, Auburn and Utah – but only two teams get to play in the BCS title game.

So why did the Trojans and Sooners get the nod?

Great question – one that should have been asked time and again of voting members of the media once it became known that the Tigers would be left to watching the title game on TV.

I’ve heard the arguments against Auburn, but they’re not accurate.

Auburn didn’t play anybody.

Not only did the Tigers beat a Top 25 team five times this season – something which USC did four times and Oklahoma twice – the combined record of Auburn’s opponents was better than that of the Trojans’ foes.

Auburn opponents went 83-69, winning 54.6 percent of their games. Teams that USC played produced a 82-70 mark for a 53.9 winning percentage.

Auburn beat No. 16 LSU, No. 7 Georgia, No. 10 Virginia Tech and No. 13 Tennessee, twice.

USC beat No. 10 Virginia Tech, No. 9 Cal, No. 18 Arizona State and No. 3 Oklahoma.

Oklahoma beat No. 5 Texas and No. 18 Texas Tech.

The Pac-10 was better than the SEC.

The SEC sent six teams to bowl games, producing a 3-3 record. Those losses came to the likes of Miami, which beat Florida 27-10, Minnesota, which beat Alabama 20-16, and Iowa, which beat LSU 30-25.

The Pac-10 placed five teams in bowl games, closing out the postseason with a 3-2 mark. Those two losses came by the way of Texas Tech, which beat Cal 45-31, and Wyoming, which beat UCLA 24-21.

Auburn had an easy SEC schedule.

Auburn’s SEC opponents went 59-57 in 2004.

USC’s Pac-10 opponents went 45-47.

USC won more convincingly

Margin of victory was removed from the BCS formula in 2003 – but apparently is alive and well in the minds of AP voters.

USC started the season No. 1

And there it is.

The only reason USC had a claim to a national title game berth – because it never fell from the lofty perch on which it was placed by AP sportswriters in August – also shows why Auburn had every bit as much of a right to the sideline opposite the Trojans as Oklahoma.

Up until Week 14 of the regular season, Auburn held the No. 2 ranking in the AP poll. But after Oklahoma pounded Baylor (3-8) by a 35-0 margin and the Tigers edged Alabama (6-6) 21-13, the sports scribes decided to lift the Sooners to the second spot, leaving Auburn to fall to No. 3 without ever falling on the football field.

Sound familiar Cal fans?

As long as college football’s national championship is decided on paper – whether through polls of sports writers or college coaches – the true champions will always be a matter of opinion.

The BCS was born to, allegedly, end the annual controversy that is college football by pitting the clear-cut top two teams in the title game. The winner was to be crowned champion by both polls.

In 2003, AP writers elected to ignore the BCS and gave the Trojans their deserved share of the national championship.

In 2004, AP writers simply elected to ignore Auburn.

It’s too bad Tuberville and his Tigers can’t demand a recount or, at the very least, a common-sense explanation as to why.

But, of course, when it comes to crowning college football’s national champion, common sense has yet to enter the picture.

If it had, we actually would have an undisputed national champ – one that actually won the title in a playoff system.

Then, and only then, could it be unanimous.

ooo

Brian Hamilton is sports editor at The Union. He may be reached via e-mail at brianh@theunion.com or by phone at 477-4240.

How they stack up

Team Record Opponents Conf. Opp. Top 25

W L W L W L Opponents

Auburn 13 0 83 69 59 57 5

USC 13 0 82 70 45 47 4

Utah 12 0 61 76 34 45 1

Okla. 12 1 87 65 57 46 3


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