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Tuberville: Auburn worthy of '04 title

Former Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville feels his unbeaten 2004 team should be declared national champions after the NCAA ordered Southern California to vacate wins, including the BCS championship game.

It won't happen. BCS Coordinator Bill Hancock said Thursday that the championship would be left vacant, barring a successful appeal by USC.

Tuberville said Auburn would have been worthy.

"I don't think there's any doubt. I think how they played all year long, beat five Top 10 teams and unfortunately we started (17th) in the polls and worked our way all the way up," Tuberville said during a football camp at Texas Tech, his new team. "That's the first time in history No. 1 and 2 never lost during the year. It's just one of those unfortunate years.

"I think they deserve it."

The NCAA imposed a two-year bowl ban and the loss of 30 scholarships Thursday for numerous violations mostly involving Heisman Trophy-winning tailback Reggie Bush and men's basketball player O.J. Mayo.

The NCAA found that Bush, identified as a "former football student-athlete," was ineligible beginning at least by December 2004 and ordered USC to vacate wins in which Bush participated while ineligible.

USC beat Oklahoma in the BCS championship game on Jan. 4, 2005, while Auburn completed a 13-0 season by defeating Virginia Tech. The Tigers were No. 2 in the final poll and the BCS rankings.

They had to settle for being declared champs by Golf Digest. Tuberville acknowledged that it wouldn't necessarily have been a black-and-white case of Auburn over Oklahoma if the BCS opted to declare a champion and not leave it vacant.

He hoped they would "continue the process."

"We never complained and we won't complain now," Tuberville said.

That Auburn team had four players taken in the first round of the NFL draft a few months later -- quarterback Jason Campbell, running backs Ronnie Brown and Carnell Williams and cornerback Carlos Rogers.

"For that group of players, and I've been on three national championship teams at Miami, that's as good a football team as I've been around," said Tuberville, a former Miami Hurricanes assistant, before the BCS announced its decision on leaving the title vacant.

"And so they might get their just due and I think that's what those players deserve."

The Tigers' only national championship was in 1957.