USC Trojans ranked #1, headed to Rose Bowl

The USC Trojans have been ranked as the #1 team in the nation today by both the AP poll and the coaches poll and have accepted an invitation to play in the Rose Bowl on New Years Day against the Michigan Wolverines.

This is a great day in the history of the USC program and should be celebrated as such. The last time the Trojans were ranked #1 was 1981 and the fact that both polls recognize USC as the top team in the country should not take away from any decision about a game taking place in New Orleans.

After winning the game against Oregon State last night it was assumed by many Trojans that we would be making a trip to the Sugar Bowl since we came into the OSU game as the #2 ranked team in the country. With the loss by Oklahoma to Kansas State it threw the BCS system upside down and somehow the team that ended up being ranked atop both major polls is left out of the game the BCS says will decide their national champion.

Let's all remember that the BCS is not the final word when it comes to crowning a national championship. The BCS is a contrived system by ABC to help monopolize the major bowls and promote the games they televise (note the Cotton Bowl, once a major New Years Day Bowl, is left out the current arrangement in part because their game is televised by CBS) but the results in this case put the validity of their system in serious jeaprody. The BCS chooses to involve a variety of computer elements in their selection process which would confuse even the smartest minds and in the end they came up with a solution that makes sense to nobody. If they want to hold a game down in the Big Easy and call that a national championship that's fine but both teams playing in that game and every college football fan in the country knows that the #1 ranked team right now is the USC Trojans.

The folks at ABC, ESPN and Sports Center have pounded the drum over the years about the importance of the BCS to the point that most people assume the winner of the BCS game is the true national champion but the AP poll is just as credible, some would argue it's more credible in this case, and the AP writers are under no obligation to vote the winner of the BCS game as their national champion. What that means is that if the Trojans can beat a fine Michigan team in the Rose Bowl then we will have every right to make our claim as the national champions for the 2003 college football season. The coaches poll must vote the winner of the BCS game as their champion but that will be a tricky argument to make if the #1 team wins and you leapfrog them with the winner of a match-up between #2 and #3.

What does all this mean for the Trojans? There was certainly a bit of disappointment when the news was first announced but that has since disappeared with a closer look at the reality of the situation. Pete Carroll stated during the bowl selection show that as far as he is concerned the Rose Bowl now becomes the national championship game and there is a lot of evidence to back up that claim. We will be facing a team in Michigan that is no slouch and, in fact, they come into the game with a #4 ranking and are more than capable of giving USC a good game. For fans of the traditional Pac-10 vs Big-10 match-up in the Rose Bowl it just doesn't get much better than that.

It remains to be seen how much this current controversy will affect the landscape of college football and the bowl selection process but what we do know is that today the USC Trojans are ranked as the #1 team in the country. Our team worked hard, played well throughout the season and they deserve the rewards that come with finishing the regular season atop the major polls. The job at hand is to now go out and finish the job on January 1st and to let the chips fall where the may. Congratulations to Pete Carroll and the entire Trojan football program, it sure does feel good to be back in this position.


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