By Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – Once upon a time, Tommy Tuberville reserved space in the Ole Miss trophy case for the national championship hardware.
I suspect that space has been redistributed.
Tuberville didn’t get the big trophy for Auburn either, but he’s trying to get it retroactively.
Bowl Championship Series officials stripped the 2004 title from Southern Cal on Monday.
That was the season in which three BCS conference teams were unbeaten heading into the bowls – one of them Tuberville’s Auburn team – and since the BCS folks refused to award the championship based on a jamboree format someone was going to get left out of the game.
It was Auburn in spite of the fact that the Tigers defeated five top-15 ranked teams en route to the SEC championship.
USC, whose staff then included an up-and-coming head coach prospect named Ed Orgeron, trashed Oklahoma 55-19 in the championship game, leaving just two perfect teams.
Just two perfect BCS teams. Utah and Boise were also undefeated in 2004.
Monday’s actions by the BCS leaves 2004 without a champion to be had.
Tuberville says the 2004 champ should be Auburn. There’s been no word on whether Boise and Utah have also cast votes for Auburn.
Tuberville’s argument: “Someone should be awarded the title. If not, the team that had to forfeit isn’t punished.”
An Arkansan like Tuberville once said, “I feel your pain,” but the fact of the matter is, there’s no real punishment to be hammered out.
Even if you think punishment is in order, there’s no good way to do it. It’s over. It’s not that there shouldn’t be accountability. There’s just not a workable way to do this.
Confetti has fallen. Rings have been distributed, and highlight videos have been produced. Teams have met the president.
You can take the championship away from Southern Cal. You can update the websites, the history books, and you can paint Reggie Bush as a villain.
But you can’t take away the memories. You can’t take away the months of work and sweat that produced the result.
The desire to punish is not wrong; without order there’s anarchy.
A lot of effort from a lot of different people went into that championship, though, and the lawlessness among them was confined, not rampant.
They may have been unwilling, unknowing parties, but they are also unfortunate collateral damage.
Still, stripping away the title is little more than symbolic.
As Pontotoc native Wally Henry told us when the NCAA took away the 1989 Division II championship from Mississippi College, memories matter.
Young men who knew one another on the surface level in August knew one another much closer in December. They cared for one another more. They still keep in touch.
Stripping the title allows the BCS to save face a little bit, and it creates a measure of embarrassment for the stripped parties.
The best way to handle the punishment is to have enforcement on the front end, but the wheels of justice are beholden to no date on the calendar.
While Tuberville has sought the championship for Auburn, Auburn has not sought the championship for Auburn.
If the BCS reverses field and names Auburn the champion, it would become the third SEC school to win two championships in a span of six years or fewer.
That is about as likely to happen as the confetti being put back in the box.
Parrish Alford covers Ole Miss for the Daily Journal. He blogs daily about Ole Miss athletics at NEMS360.com.