CORAL GABLES, Fla. – Former Miami running back Willis McGahee said he would “like to have my ring” if it is found that Ohio State won the 2003 BCS title game while competing with ineligible players.
The validity of that championship has reached no higher than speculation stage, but has been a topic of conversation given Ohio State’s current NCAA problems. McGahee, a former Hurricane great, told CBSSports.com that he still feels that Miami was “cheated” out of a win because of back judge Terry Porter’s controversial pass interference call.
Asked specifically if Miami should be declared national champions if Ohio State won with ineligible players, McGahee said: “I feel we were cheated anyway. We beat them. The pass interference with the eligible, ineligible players. It wouldn’t have made any difference. I can’t get my money back that I missed out on a second ring. If they did [cheat] I’d like to have my ring.”
Miami won the 2001 national championship and was beaten out for consecutive titles in 2002, losing to Ohio State 32-24 in double overtime. Porter’s call came on a play in which Miami’s Glenn Sharpe went up for a ball against Ohio State’s Chris Gamble came on a fourth-and-3 play from the Miami 5. That loss stopped a 35-game winning streak by the Hurricanes.
For Ohio State to be scrutinized, the NCAA would have to decide it is worth going back beyond the four-year statute of limitations to prosecute the Buckeyes. If players competed while ineligible at anytime, Ohio State would likely have to vacate victories. There is more of a chance that the program would have to vacate 2010 wins. There is no evidence that Ohio State played any ineligible players in 2002, only reports that players were receiving extra benefits for long periods of time. Nine years after that season, Al Golden is beginning his first with the Canes.
“He turned Temple around,” McGahee said recently following a workout on campus with several other NFL players. “The fact that he turned that program around says a lot about his character, his coaching staff. The good thing about it is, he came to the University of Miami.”
McGahee ran for 2,080 yards in two seasons at Miami. His college career ended after a devastating knee injury in the fourth quarter of that Ohio State game. McGahee came back, rehabbed his knee and become an effective NFL back over the past eight seasons.
McGahee’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus, is the same as just-departed Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor. It was Rosenhaus who marketed McGahee during his knee injury, allowing the back to be drafted 23rd overall only 3 ½ months after the injury.
Significant issues remain about Pryor’s talents heading into the supplemental draft.
“He’s [Rosenhaus] going to get in there and talk to the teams, tell them about his client [Pryor], get the word out,” McGahee said. “The knee, he did that. I did my part. I had to work.”
There is a Ohio State quarterback-Miami-McGahee connection. Former Heisman winner Troy Smith was a teammate with the Ravens.
“They said Troy Smith couldn’t play quarterback,” McGahee said. “I’ve known Troy for four years. He came out and won the Heisman Trophy. When he got his shot, he took advantage of it. If you have the ability to throw and read coverages, doesn’t matter how tall you are, as long as you have the heart.”