Penalties to USC aren’t enough

It appears they got away with it.

While it might seem like the two-year postseason ban and the reduction of as many as 20 scholarships for the USC Trojans is a big deal, this isn’t as big a deal as it might seem. We’ve got to consider USC cares mostly about being in the national title hunt and wouldn’t be for the next two years anyway. The punishment isn’t going to be any sort of a deterrent.

Knowing how unfair and silly the NCAA rules are, how many fan bases would trade away two bowl games, scholarships, some revisionist history several years after the fact, and a few rebuilding years for a 13-0 season with a national championship? One hundred twenty  out of 120.

Here’s exactly what’s going to happen. USC, which isn’t BCS championship good right now, will miss out on going to a few midlevel bowl games, Lane Kiffin and his terrific coaching staff will get a two-year grace period and will recruit their tails off, hitting it out of the park on nine of every 10 recruits they get, and USC will be really, really good again in 2012.

No, Auburn, you didn’t win the 2004 national championship. (And technically, Oklahoma should win after finishing second in the BCS final standings and Auburn third.) If you want to think your tremendous 2004 Tigers team now deserves the national title, and if that’s how you want to get a trophy, fine. Never mind that no one else will acknowledge it or care, but if it makes you feel better and puts a song in your heart for a few days, then congratulations.

No, Vince Young, you didn’t win the 2005 Heisman Trophy (although Heisman voting should be done after bowl games and Young would’ve certainly have won it that way).

No, BCS committee, NCAA, and anyone else who believes that you can simply erase history with an asterisk, you can’t take away the results of the games six years after the fact.

No one outside of historians and a slew of very silly people (like me) care or put any stock in the idea of vacated wins, and again, if the point is to punish and to keep schools from cheating, this ruling proves that it’s still worth it. There’s a great chance you’ll never get caught, and if you do, you’ll have made a ton of money and you would’ve made your fan base happy.

You want to punish USC, NCAA? You want to do something with some teeth that will keep programs from cheating? Force the school to give back its share of 2004 bowl money, TV revenue, and the dough made from merchandise and ticket sales. Force USC to open the 2004 books, and whatever the football team brought in, that’s the fine. If the season didn’t happen and the wins are vacated, then so should the revenue made off of them.

But for now, USC and the coaches will spin this into a positive; good programs always do. If Florida could bring in an all-timer of a recruiting class after the Urban Meyer health issues, then selling the four- and five-star types on the idea of coming to USC, forming the foundation, and being ready to rock a few years later should be easy.

This wasn’t a death penalty and it wasn’t the mega-hit that the program should’ve taken if all the allegations and violations really are true. The precedent has been set, big-time college football programs. Keep on doing what you’re doing.