Once USC's appeal to the NCAA was denied, we knew this was coming. The BCS announced today that it is officially taking away the Trojans' 2004 championship. Despite how serious that sounds, what real world things have changed?
The trophy USC got for that season, like all crystal football trophies, was not awarded by the BCS. It was awarded by the American Football Coaches Association, as its the trophy you get for finishing first the coaches' poll. The AFCA has yet to say one way or another if it will ask for it back.
UPDATE: The trophy is no longer on display, but its whereabouts are currently unknown.
As it will remain vacated, no one else will get that 2004 BCS title. Not Oklahoma, who finished No. 2 in the final BCS poll, nor Auburn who finished No. 3 in the final BCS poll and also didn't lose its bowl game. In the record books, 2004 will just have a gap for champion.
So who was the 2004 champion? Still USC, pretty much. The AP announced a long time ago that it doesn't care about NCAA rules, only what happened on the field. Therefore, it will not go back and revise its champion for the 2004 season. The AP and BCS give out the two major national championships recognized by everyone, and USC is the only school that will have one of those for that season.
It does set a precedent for what happens when a BCS National Championship Game gets vacated later on. That would come into play if something ever comes of the still-ongoing investigation into Auburn and Cam Newton or if somehow the NCAA establishes a pattern of malfeasance back to 2002 with Ohio State. Those schools might lose their BCS titles in name, but as they also won those seasons' AP titles, they'll still be the champ for those years.
Glad we cleared that up.