What does vacating wins really mean?

Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

I've had several questions from fans wondering what it means for other teams in the SEC now that Alabama has to vacate 21 wins from the 2005, 2006 and 2007 seasons as part of its NCAA penalties for the textbook scandal.

The short answer is ... nothing.

Alabama has to give up those wins, but the other teams don't get the wins.

And in terms of the series record, it's as if those games were never played.

Sound confusing? Well, it is.

Remember, too, that vacating games isn't the same as forfeiting games. In 1993, Alabama had to forfeit nine games because of the Antonio Langham/agent mess, meaning the Crimson Tide's opponents in those games did get the wins.

For example, Alabama beat Vanderbilt, 17-6, on the field that season, but the Commodores count that game as a win because of the forfeit. So instead of a 4-7 record, Vanderbilt's media guide shows a 5-6 record in 1993.

The fact that Alabama is vacating 21 wins during the 2005, 2006 and 2007 seasons won't help the records of their opponents in those games.

Take the 2005 season, for example. One of Alabama's wins in reeling off nine in a row that year was over South Carolina, 37-14. I had a South Carolina fan ask me if the Gamecocks would now be able to count a win in that game, thus making them Eastern Division co-champions along with Georgia.

Again, the answer is no.

Alabama loses the win, but South Carolina doesn't gain it.

David Paschall of The Chattanooga Times Free Press has an interesting article where he points out that Alabama is now just 44-48 in the 2000s when you factor in the 21 vacated wins. That means the Crimson Tide need to win at least nine games in 2009 to avoid having a losing record for the decade.

Some of the former Alabama players have shrugged off the significance of having to vacate wins.

Former center Roger Shultz, though, got in a shot at Tennessee when he told Paschall, "Tennessee will probably like it because they'll pick up a win, and they like those cheap wins. But they still lost the game."

Pretty good zinger there by Shultz. The only problem is that Tennessee doesn't pick up a win from that 2005 game, which Alabama won, 6-3, in Tuscaloosa. Alabama simply loses the win.

Still confused?

Welcome to the world of vacating victories.