For all the newbies out there, the 2003-2004 season featured the last "split champion" in college football. Most are aware, but in case you are new to the game, before the BCS was created in 1998, there was no set National Title game. Meaning a #1 Ohio State would play #7 USC in the Rose Bowl, while a #2 Florida State would play in the Orange Bowl. After the games completed, voters would choose who the National Champion was. This was a big hurdle for CFB, and it is no surprise that its popularity rose along with the BCS, despite its flaws. The 4 main bowls (Rose, Sugar, Orange, Fiesta) gave up their rights to the #1 and #2 ranked teams, meaning we would always have a clear-cut winner.
Then 2003 happened. For a majority of the BCS's tenure, the AP poll and BCS poll tended to agree, especially near the top of the rankings. LSU, Oklahoma, and USC all lost just one game. USC lost in triple OT in September, LSU lost in October, and OU lost the Big 12 Title game. Heading into the Big 12 title game, OU was ranked #1, LSU #2. and USC #3 in the BCS. Meanwhile, the AP poll had OU #1, USC #2, and LSU #3.
OU would get absolutely destroyed in the Big 12 title game (35-7) by KSU. And yet, OU did NOT DROP A SPOT, staying ahead of USC, and qualifying for the BCS Title game along with LSU. The AP poll however, now had USC #1.
After it was all said and done, LSU was awarded the BCS Title, while the AP voters remained firm, and awarded the AP Title to USC. In my lifetime, it is the only split title, and my brain cannot process it. I guess those that witnessed football before the BCS can process multiple champions, but mine cannot.
This got brought up at work today because someone challenged myself, and another sports buff to name every champion of the 21st century. I said LSU and he said USC.
What say you? LSU? USC? Both? Give me some thoughts to win this argument with. My coworker made a compelling case that USC was clearly a better team, but I still hold my ground that the winner of the game called "The National Championship" should be considered the National Champion.