It now seems a certainty that USC will vacate its 2004 BCS title after losing its appeal of crippling NCAA penalties. CBSSports.com's Bryan Fischer reported Wednesday that USC had been notified that the NCAA had rejected the school's appeal. An official announcement from the NCAA is expected on Thursday.
The BCS has maintained for months that it would vacate the title only after the case was concluded. More than five years since Yahoo! Sports broke the story of Reggie Bush's extra benefits, the case now seems finished. USC AD Pat Haden is expected to say Thursday that the school will take no further action.
BCS executive director Bill Hancock told reporters in July, "If USC loses the appeal, the  championship will be vacated. And the feeling is in our group, the commissioners group, is that there was not a game, no game happened."
Hancock added at the time, "They [commissioners] will vacate, they will not elevate anyone," referring to the 12 school presidents who make up the BCS Oversight Committee.
"The presidents could decide to do something else, but I think it's most likely that they will vacate it."
Early Thursday, Hancock reiterated that no other team would be elevated to win the BCS title. "It would simply be vacated," he said in an email.
Prior to the NCAA's official release of the appeal denial, Hancock also said Thursday: "If, at the conclusion of the NCAA’s process, it is determined that an ineligible athlete participated in one of the BCS games, then the commissioners and Presidential Oversight Committee members will consider whether vacation of the team’s participation in a BCS game—or vacation of the championship, in this case—is warranted. There is no set timetable for the group’s consideration of the matter, but I expect it would happen sooner, rather than later."
If they decide to take action, the oversight committee's decision would most likely be unanimous. If USC loses its title it would mark the first such occurrence in college football since at least the beginning of the wire service era in 1936. USC is expected to keep its '04 title in the AP poll. Instead, it would essentially be stripped of its final No. 1 ranking in the coaches' poll. The winner of the BCS title game is mandated to finish No. 1 in the final version of that poll.
On June 10, the NCAA vacated 14 victories from USC's 2004 and 2005 seasons as part of the penalties stemming from the Bush investigation. Bush essentially competed while ineligible for two seasons because he had taken money and benefits from marketers trying to win him as client when he turned pro.
Because the NCAA doesn't stage a championship in Division I-A football, it has no control over the BCS championship process.
The Football Writers Association of America last year stripped USC of the '04 title and asked the school to return its Grantland Rice Trophy that goes with the honor. The Heisman Trust vacated Bush's winning of the 2005 Heisman Trophy.