Permit me to begin with a disclaimer. Actually, belay that; permit me to precede my disclaimer with a caveat to the disclaimer.
Here now, the caveat: I know, like, and respect at least six or eight, and maybe as many as a dozen, fans of the Auburn Tigers, from colleagues in the legal profession to fellows who have married into my family to fellow bloggers such as Jay Coulter, Jerry Hinnen, War Eagle Atlanta, jd is legend, and others. Ours is an institutional rivalry, not a personal one.
Here now, the disclaimer: I hate Auburn. I consider the Plainsmen to be the Bulldogs’ biggest rivals, and, if I knew going into an autumn that Georgia was going to go 1-11, I would hope and pray that the one win was over Auburn. We have been playing the Tigers longer than any other rival, we have played them more times than any other rival, and I regard the rivalry with the student-athletes of the Alabama Polytechnic Institute as the most heated and most important in all of college football.
Nevertheless, I am compelled by principle to state that, as much as it turns my stomach to say so, Auburn deserves to be crowned the 2004 national champion in the wake of the USC Trojans’ having had their claim to that honor taken from them.
When Vanessa Williams was stripped (you should excuse the verb choice) of her Miss America title in 1984, the pageant did not "vacate" the crown; instead, it anointed first runner-up Suzette Charles, who reigned for the remainder of the term and is listed as an official Miss America.
If the president is removed from office, the vice president becomes president. This was not always the case; the Constitutional amendment providing for presidential succession was not ratified until 1967, so, technically, John Tyler (from 1841 to 1845), Millard Fillmore (from 1850 to 1853), Andrew Johnson (from 1865 to 1869), Chester Arthur (from 1881 to 1885), Theodore Roosevelt (from 1901 to 1905), Calvin Coolidge (from 1923 to 1925), Harry Truman (from 1945 to 1949), and Lyndon Johnson (from 1963 to 1965) were only acting presidents. However, there is now a provision for filling a presidential vacancy, and the tradition of recognizing the authority of vice presidents who finished out unexpired terms to which other men were elected developed even in the absence of Constitutional authority because nature abhors a vacuum.
So it is with the 2004 national championship. Southern California has had its claim to that honor revoked. You can’t just go around not having a college football national champion, any more than you can just go around not having a Miss America or a president of the United States. Granted, all three of those titles have been more symbolic than substantive for most of my lifetime, but, if you’re going to insist upon having one, you need to insist upon having one all the time. (This is why I favor designating a vice Uga.)
When Miss America’s crown is taken away, the first runner-up becomes Miss America. When a president dies, resigns, or is removed from office, the vice president becomes chief executive. When the No. 1 team in the country is declared ineligible, the No. 2 team in the country takes over the top spot.
This is so obvious and sensible as not to require explanation. It’s why all the groomsmen dress the same way as the groom; if something happens to the groom before the wedding, everyone takes one step to the right, the best man says "I do," and you have yourself a marriage. Auburn was ranked No. 2 in the final 2004 FWAA Grantland Rice rankings. There no longer is a No. 1 team in that poll. The Tigers should ascend to the national championship.
Yes, it makes me want to throw up to have to write that, but look on the bright side, Bulldog Nation. If the FWAA heeds what I have written, the 2004 Plainsmen will join the 1981 Clemson Tigers, the 1990 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, the 1996, 2006, and 2008 Florida Gators, and the 1998 Tennessee Volunteers on the list of Georgia rivals to have won at least a share of the national championship more recently than the Bulldogs have . . . and that’s not even counting the multiple titles won by conference mates Alabama and LSU in the interim.
That, to my way of thinking, justifies hating Auburn even more, so, really, everyone goes home a winner.