USC, Utah and 2004

As you've probably heard by now, it's possible the SC Trojans lose their 2004 title due to NCAA violations. If this happens, there will be a vacated championship for the year the Utes went undefeated and, along with Auburn, made a great case for championship inclusion. 

If the Trojans do lose that title, how valid of an argument does Utah have in at least representing themselves as a legitimate national title winner? It's an interesting question because 2004's team was, if you look at just talent, the best team in the program's history. In fact, I believe it's the best team in non-BCS history. How do they stack up against Auburn, however? That's the big question because the Tigers will, rightfully, have a claim to the championship. 

Now if this does happen, which I have my doubts because SC is still SC, where does that leave the Utes? Probably a spot above where they were at the end of the 2004 season and that, unfortunately, means they'll certainly get overlooked in the process of awarding a new national champion. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if they still were put behind Oklahoma, who were taken behind the woodshed by the Trojans in the national championship game back in January, 2005. 

But as fans, we know full well that Ute team was capable of beating any team in college football outside of those Trojans. I was not overly impressed with Auburn and certainly less impressed after the Sooners fell flat on their face in the NC game. With SC out of the picture, that leaves two legitimate contenders to a potential mythical title and neither, in my opinion, were head and shoulders above the Utes. Certainly they weren't as dominant and that might be the ultimate factor here.

Of course, as was the case in 2008, regardless of what Utah does on the football field, they're going to be handicapped by not being affiliated with a BCS conference. Because of this, even if the NCAA strips SC of its championship and decides to give it to another program, the Utes most likely won't receive any support. 

And that seems evident in this poll by NBC Sports. 

Utah's 14% is last in the results and behind Oklahoma (20%), keeping the title vacant (27%) and Auburn (39%). Try and change it, but I won't hold my breath. 

With that said, who do you think deserves it if the NCAA strips the Trojans of their '04 title?

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