Weíre going to start today with a trivia question: What was the outcome of the 1931 football game between Robstown and Alice?
Itís an interesting piece of trivia that Iím sure a few locals probably still discuss at coffee shops and tell their grandchildren about. I was fortunate to stumble upon this while looking through some of The Nueces County Record Starís archives.
Ready for the answer? If youíre dying to know, you can skim ahead to the final paragraph. But for now Iím going to put that on hold and switch to the current college football scene. Donít worry, I promise the two are related.
This offseason has been an interesting one for college football. Especially when you consider the fact that almost none of it has to do with football, but with off the field ďscandals.Ē Not too long ago, the NCAA put the hammer down on USC. After almost five years of investigations, Reggie Bush returned his Heisman trophy and the Trojans were given a two-year bowl ban.
Reasons why it took so long to complete this investigation are beyond me. But it seemed to spark a lot more of these situations for other major football programs.
Following this, Ohio State was hit with several player suspensions for exchanging their personal memorabilia for tattoos. This snowballed into a whole heap of problems that led to Coach Jim Tresselís resignation and quarterback Terrell Pryor leaving school early for the NFL.
Just last week, Georgia Tech was put on four years probation when it was discovered a player accepted $312 worth of clothing from a sports agent. This incident took many in the media for a loop, as the investigation flew under the radar until the punishment was released.
But hereís one of the most interesting things concerning a few of these matters ó in addition to suspensions, probations, bowl bans, scholarship revocations and bad publicity, the NCAA and the schools involved are also vacating games and honors that occurred during times of violation.
To clarify, ďvacateĒ doesnít mean that someone was stripped of an award or forced to forfeit. It means that it ďnever happened.Ē When a school or player is forced to vacate something, it is being erased from the record books.
So if I were to ask you, who won the 2005 Heisman trophy? The answer isnít Reggie Bush with an asterisk. The answer isnít Vince Young (as much as it should be). The answer is that there is no answer. The 2005 Heisman doesnít exist.
The 2004 National Champions? Not USC. Not the then second-ranked Oklahoma Sooners. Not even the undefeated Auburn Tigers.
The 2010 Ohio State season? No such thing.
The 2009 ACC Champs? Well, Clemson won the Atlantic Division. But thatís all that happened.
Well, at least Iowa knocked off the Yellow Jackets in the 2010 Orange Bowl, right? Wrong!
Iowa is still the winner of that Orange Bowl. But whoíd they beat? According to the record books, Georgia Tech never participated in this game.
Same goes for that epic Rose Bowl game in 2006.
Texas won the game and the National Title. But USC was never there. That lateral just happened out of thin air. The Longhorn defense stopped an offense of ghosts on fourth down. And Vince Young scored a dramatic touchdown with nobody chasing him, to come from behind and win the game 41-0.
While I fully believe that the NCAA needs to crack down on wrongdoing and punish those involved, Iím not sure they're aware of who theyíre punishing, especially when it comes to the process of vacating the past.
Should we really take away the value of the 2005 Longhorns or the 2009 Hawkeyes? Yes, they still win either way, but itís an insult to say their opponents did not participate, because they earned their victories.
Mistakes have been made. Punishments should be given. But regardless of mistakes, you cannot erase history. While you can say some of these things shouldíve never happened, they still happened. You canít change that.
Because the record books may say Alice beat Robstown 1-0 in 1931, the Cotton Pickers really won the game 106-0 (No, thatís not a typo). An ineligible player canít change that.
Matt Cardenas is a sports reporter for the?Record Star. Readers may contact him via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.