Wiping out three years of Alabama football

Posted by ESPN.com's Mark Schlabach
The NCAA Committee on Infractions on Thursday placed Alabama's sports teams on three years' probation as a result of its student-athletes improperly obtaining approximately $40,000 worth of textbooks from the school's bookstore.

What does it mean for the Crimson Tide's football program, which is really the only sport that matters to most fans in Tuscaloosa?

Alabama will have to vacate as many as 21 victories from the 2005 through '07 seasons. The NCAA has asked Alabama officials to identify any games in which seven ineligible football players participated during the three-year period.

Five of the players have been identified -- offensive linemen Antoine Caldwell and Marlon Davis, running back Glen Coffee and defensive backs Marquis Johnson and Chris Rogers. The NCAA and Alabama have yet to identify the other two players who were ruled ineligible.

By my calculations, the Crimson Tide might have to vacate 10 victories from the 2005 season (at least one of the ineligible players competed in each of those games), six wins from 2006 and five victories from 2007. Alabama self-reported the violations in 2007 and suspended the aforementioned players. The Tide won't have to vacate their 41-7 victory over Tennessee in 2007 or their 30-24 win over Colorado in the 2007 Independence Bowl, because the ineligible players had already been suspended and reinstated before those contests were played.

What does it all really mean?

Well, remember that 9-0 start during the 2005 season, when the Crimson Tide climbed as high as No. 3 in the Bowl Championship Series standings and when former coach Mike Shula actually looked a little like daddy Don?

It never happened.

Remember Tyrone Prothro's amazing over-the-defender's-back catch against Southern Mississippi in 2005?

You might find it on YouTube, but you probably won't find it in Alabama's 2009 media guide. (I'm sure the home office in Bristol will allow Prothro to keep his ESPY.)

Remember former quarterback John Parker Wilson's 2-yard touchdown pass to fullback Le'Ron McClain, which beat Ole Miss, 26-23, in overtime in 2006?

McClain should have dropped it. In the eyes of the NCAA, it probably didn't happen.

The good news for Tide fans? Alabama won't have to vacate any Iron Bowl victories. The Crimson Tide weren't good enough to beat rival Auburn during the seasons in question.

With one fell swoop, the NCAA is attempting to wipe out three years of Alabama football history.

If only the NCAA would force Alabama to vacate that 21-14 loss to Louisiana-Monroe.