Report: BCS has power to strip USC's 2004 title

If the NCAA finds USC guilty of major violations, the BCS has the power to take away the Trojans' 2004 national championship, according to a report in USA Today.

The issue is simple. If the NCAA finds former running back Reggie Bush guilty of taking extra benefits from a pair of would-be agents while he played for the Trojans, then he could be ruled retroactively ineligible. As a result, the NCAA could force USC to vacate wins in which Bush played in the record book, which includes the BCS championship game pounding of Oklahoma after the 2004 season.

Reports USA Today:

Quietly in early 2007, as the investigation into USC and alleged improprieties involving Bush and his family was unfolding, college football's Bowl Championship Series drew up a policy calling for teams' BCS appearances and BCS titles to be vacated when major rules violations subsequently are discovered and the institutions are sanctioned by the NCAA.

Current BCS executive director Bill Hancock also told the newspaper, "Nothing would happen until the very end of the NCAA process, including any appeals."

So there could be more intrigue even after the NCAA FINALLY issues its ruling.

Understand: USC could be forced to give up the 2004 title and yet not even get hammered for major violations.

The "allegedly" hangs loosely on whether Bush took money and gifts, see Bush finally -- and quietly -- settling a lawsuit against him. But the issue going forward for the football program is whether coaches or administrators knew -- or should have known -- what Bush was doing. While there has been much media and fan bluster about the case, there has been little published evidence that USC had knowledge of Bush's behind-the-scenes shenanigans.

This has always been the critical linchpin of the case in terms of how hard the Trojans' future -- as opposed to the record-book past -- could be hit by sanctions. The NCAA could find Bush took extra benefits but rule that it found no compelling evidence that USC folks knew about it. Of course, the NCAA also could rule that USC was so loosey-goosey with the monitoring of its athletes that not knowing is no excuse and only reflects a program that lacks institutional control.

At which point, there could be the dreaded bowl or TV bans as well as significant scholarship reductions.

Of course, you're wondering when the NCAA is going to rule. It has, after all, been 13 weeks since the infractions committee met with USC officials in Tempe, Ariz.

That's grounds for further scandal.

The Pac-10's blogger will be on vacation next week. The Pac-10 blog suspects that's when the ruling shall be announced because of this: NCAA Ruling > Pac-10 blog vacation.

And, yes, the Pac-10- blog suspects a conspiracy between my boss, Darth Duffey, and the NCAA.