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Pete Carroll addresses loss of 2004 BCS title

File photo of USC Leinhart and Carrol at BCS game in Miami

University of Southern California head coach Pete Carroll (R) and quarterback Matt Leinart (L) celebrate USC’s 55-19 win over the University of Oklahoma in the FedEx Orange Bowl with the national championship trophy in Miami in this January 4, 2005 file photo. The Bowl Championship Series on June 6, 2011 vacated USC’s participation in the 2004-2005 season and their championship following the schools loss on appeal of sanctions to the NCAA, which found that former running back Reggie Bush and his family had received improper benefits while he was playing for the Trojans. Picture taken January 4, 2005. REUTERS/Marc Serota/Files (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)


Former USC coach Pete Carroll, who left for the Seahawks (or, as the case may be, escaped) only a few months before the NCAA hammer came down on the program, had yet to publicly address the decision to strip the Trojans’ 2004 BCS national championship.

He finally has broken his silence. And it’s safe to say that the paperback version of Win Forever won’t have any asterisk or subtitle relating to the “Forever” having only a seven-year shelf life.

“Just watch the comments of the players,” Carroll said told Mark Willard of 710 ESPN, via “They know who won, who didn’t. [Matt] Leinart and Lofa Tatupu and those guys, they all know.”

Still, that same thing could be said by any coach whose team has a title taken away after the fact. The outcomes of the games can’t ever be changed, and the inclination of the players to stubbornly adhere to the information displayed on the scoreboard will only be strengthened by a proclamation from their head coach that, essentially, it’s OK to ignore the eventual consequences.

Carroll also bemoaned the fact that the process took so many years to unfold, and that the kids currently at USC are paying for the alleged sins of their predecessors. On this point, Carroll has a good point; the NCAA often takes too long to sift through these cases, in large part because the NCAA’s lack of subpoena power often makes proving violations harder than eating corn on the cob without teeth. Indeed, but for the lawsuit against Reggie Bush that Bush stubbornly refused to settle, the NCAA would have been unable to ever gather enough evidence to support a conclusion that Bush had forfeited his eligibility by accepting benefits.

So, yes, the process desperately needs change, in many ways. But the inefficiencies of the NCAA don’t justify a refusal to accept reality, even if reality arrives far later than it should have.