The Football Writers Association of America has vacated USC's 2004 national championship and asked the school to return the Grantland Rice Trophy that symbolized that title.
The announcement was made Thursday morning after a resolutions committee voted by confidential ballot. USC will be eligible for the FWAA's preseason poll but cannot win the trophy in 2010. The action was taken after NCAA penalties were handed down in June. Among other violations, the NCAA concluded that former tailback Reggie Bush competing while ineligible
The Grantland Rice Trophy has been awarded continuously to its national champion since 1954 by the FWAA. The BCS is on record as saying it will vacate the USC title if the school's NCAA appeal fails. The Heisman Trophy Trust is still discussing its stance on Bush's 2004 award. Shortly after taking the job, new USC AD Pat Haden ordered the school's copy of Bush's trophy returned to the trust.
Tim Griffin, the current FWAA president, wrote this in his letter notifying USC of the FWAA's decisions: "Had these facts been known, USC would not have been selected for the award ... in light of standards applicable to FWAA poll participants, award candidates and award recipients. All finalists for FWAA team and individual awards, including the Grantland Rice Award and Trophy, reasonably are presumed to have been in material compliance with certain qualifying standards at the time of award issuance."
The coaches' poll is not ranking USC this season because the school is on NCAA probation. USC remains eligible to be ranked in the Associated Press poll and can finish No. 1. It is No. 14 in the AP preseason poll. The AP did not strip USC of its 2004 title.
The FWAA took no action to elevate a new champion for 2004. It stated that USC is eligible for its preseason poll but will not be eligible to be voted on in its season-ending poll. Auburn was also notified of Thursday's action by the FWAA. In addition to USC, Auburn and Utah also finished undefeated that season.
The FWAA is one of four major championship selectors recognized by the NCAA. This is the first time the FWAA has taken such action.
(Dennis Dodd is a past president of the FWAA and was a member of the resolutions committee on this matter)