NCAA sanctions might force USC to vacate its Bowl Championship Series title-game victory over Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl, but the Trojans will remain national champions of the 2004 season in the Associated Press poll.
"The 2004 poll stands," AP Sports Editor Terry Taylor confirmed in an e-mail to The Times. "The poll is intended to measure on-field performance. If teams are allowed to play, they're allowed to be ranked and USC certainly played in 2004."
There was speculation the AP might reconsider USC's title because it recently called for a re-vote for NFL defensive rookie of the year. Brian Cushing, a former USC linebacker who plays for the Houston Texans, won the award but it was later announced that he had tested positive for a banned substance. Cushing kept his award after a second vote.
Taylor said USC's 2004 national title was different.
"It would be impractical to revote," Taylor said. "It's been six years. Memories have faded and the poll board from that year is no longer intact."
In 2003, USC finished No. 1 after the regular season in the AP and USA Today coaches' poll but third in the BCS standings, preventing USC from playing in the BCS title game.
The AP, however, still crowned USC champions after the Trojans defeated Michigan in the Rose Bowl. Louisiana State won the BCS title with a victory over Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl.
USC won both the BCS and AP titles in the 2004 season. However, the BCS probably will rule that the Trojans' championship is vacated if the school loses its appeal on major NCAA infractions.
So, the Pete Carroll era at USC may end up with no BCS championships — but back-to-back AP crowns.