After years of sub-par season, NCAA investigations and sanctions, USC football is ready to make another run at a national championship in 2012.
Five years ago, USC football was the face of college football, after defeating Illinois 49-17 in the Rose Bowl, their second consecutive Rose Bowl vicotory, and their fifth BCS bowl victory of the decade. After another Rose Bowl victory the next year over Penn State, it was clear that this was the team of the decade. However, the 2009 season, was disastrous, with a four loss year, and ending the Trojans’ streak of seven straight PAC-10 conference championships. In that off-season, the darkest days fell upon USC. In June, 2010, after a four year investigation, the NCAA imposed sanctions against the Trojans football program for a “lack of institutional control”, including a public reprimand and censure, a two-year postseason ban, a loss of 30 scholarships over three years,and vacation of all wins in which Reggie Bush participated as an ineligible player, including the 2005 Orange Bowl, in which the Trojans won the BCS National Championship.
Following the NCAA sanctions, BCS Executive Director Bill Hancock stated that a committee would decide whether to vacate USC’s 2004 BCS Championship, but the final decision would be delayed until after the NCAA had heard USC’s appeals against some of the sanctions. On July 20, 2010, incoming USC president Max Nikias stated that the school would remove jerseys and murals displayed in Bush’s honor from its facilities, and would return the school’s copy of Bush’s Heisman Trophy On September 14, Bush announced that he would forfeit the Heisman and return his copy of the trophy.
On May 26, 2011, NCAA upheld all findings and penalties against USC in their infractions case on former players Reggie Bush and O.J. Mayo. The USC football team will not participate in the new Pac 12 Conference Championship game or a bowl game for the 2011–12 season. The BCS announced June 6, 2011, that it had stripped USC of the 2004 title, yet USC still retains the 2004 AP National Championship.
Two years of non postseason play have passed, and Trojans are ready. They are ready to become what they were five years ago, and return to college football prominence. Led by Senior quarterback Matt Barkley, a potential number one draft pick, the Trojans will be in the hunt for yet another long awaited national championship.