BCS needs to check itself

Somehow, it took nearly a year.

Even after the NCAA hammered USC last June with staggering penalties for rules violations that involved former star running back Reggie Bush’s acceptance of nearly $300,000 in improper benefits, the Bowl Championship Series didn’t officially strip the Trojans of their tainted 2004 national championship until Monday.

The move was expected, but the BCS’ company line is that it had to wait until the NCAA made a decision on USC’s unsuccessful appeal of the sanctions before taking away the title. That finally happened late last month and when it did, BCS executive director Bill Hancock said then that he expected his organization to make a decision whether to strip the Trojans of the championship "sooner, rather than later."

If that’s the creed the BCS really wanted to adhere to, it would have taken away USC’s national title when the NCAA released its findings and penalties for the Trojans last June, not this June.

After all, in a statement Monday announcing that the BCS was vacating USC’s title, Hancock said, “This action reflects the scope of the BCS arrangement and is consistent with the NCAA’s approach when it subsequently discovers infractions by institutions whose teams have played in NCAA championship events.”

USC didn’t dispute that Bush was an ineligible player when he played in its 55-19 drubbing of Oklahoma to win the BCS national championship in January 2005. The Trojans’ failed appeal was simply an attempt to reduce their penalties of a two-year bowl ban and the loss of 30 scholarships over three seasons.

Obviously, the BCS stripping USC of its national title more than six years after the fact doesn’t do much at this point. Former USC coach Pete Carroll and his team’s trouncing of Oklahoma remains seared in our memory, just like Bush’s jaw-dropping moves that we still remember despite him forfeiting his Heisman Trophy last September.

For once the BCS actually made a right decision in taking away USC’s 2004 national championship, but in waiting as long as it did, it simply reminded everybody of the bureaucracy that plagues the corrupt organization.

In this case, the BCS was once again reactionary. Even the Football Writers Association of America, consisting of lowly regarded sportswriters, stripped USC in August of its 2004 Grantland Rice Trophy, which the FWAA gives to the nation’s top college football team. But not the BCS; it wanted to wait.

Here’s why: The BCS isn’t proactive unless its own interests, i.e. money and power, are threatened. It’s only quick to take action and spout its propaganda in instances such as the Department of Justice’s antitrust division sending a letter to the NCAA last month asking why there isn’t a playoff system for college football.

Even when its “scope” made it as clear as the crystal ball given to its national champions that USC’s title should be taken away, the BCS took a delay of game.

It’s little wonder that the BCS insists that its shadowy system is the definitive answer to crowning college football’s national champion rather than a 16-team playoff favored by the majority.

Like Bush, who has never admitted any wrongdoing at USC, the organization is in denial about what we already know: That the BCS deserves to be stripped, too — of its involvement in college football.

Hopefully, “sooner, rather than later.”