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Winning At A Price

In the last ten years no college football team has dominated the sport like the USC Trojans - period. Although the SEC has been the best conference, their best teams still can't stack up. The Gators won a pair of championships more recently, but spent the first half of the decade in the Ron Zook era. While Alabama has looked great since Nick Saban arrived, that was just a few years ago. The U started off the 2000's looking like the team to beat, but fizzled in the second part of the decade, while USC continued to rack up BCS wins. Ohio State, Oklahoma and Texas are the only schools that could be considered in SC's league consistently from 2000-2010 - but at the end of the day, the Men of Troy really were the "Top of the Class".

That is until the NCAA handed down its long anticipated ruling today that covers a thorough investigation of allegations of payments to high profile players, like Heisman Trophy winner Reggie Bush. The punishment for their infractions includes the loss of 30 scholarships and a 2 year ban on bowl eligibility, virtually assuring that they wont be the "The Team of the Decade" for the 2010-2020 years. While this is a crippling situation for the program, its the other part of the punishment that seems a bit more interesting to consider.

"The penalties include the loss of 30 football scholarships over three years and vacating 14 victories in which Bush played from December 2004 through the 2005 season."

This does put SC in risk of being stripped of its 04/05 BCS National Championship, as well as Bush losing his Heisman, but of course they can't go back and actually replay the games. So, what exactly does this means for their fans?

The joy they experienced rooting on their team in some of those amazing wins, such as the memorable late night shootout against Fresno St or the Orange Bowl Championship Game route of OU, still happened and can't be taken away per se. I imagine most fans won't really change their opinion of those games and the wins they watched - however, for some this must feel like waking up from a great dream only to find out it was in fact just a dream.

And how will this effect the legacy of Pete Carroll, who was beloved in LA and led the Trojans through their amazing run, but who is now being blamed for the lack of institutional control that has crippled this once great program? Will the fans in SoCal simply appreciate what he did or hold a grudge for the seemingly obvious future pains his administration caused?