What would you think is the meaning of this page?
If your answer is that it means Auburn is claiming five national titles -- then you would be wrong. Because, you see, Auburn isn't claiming these national titles at all (except for the ones in 1957 and 2010, because -- look at that shiny object). It's just putting them on its website, for the world to see, so we can all think about whether Auburn actually won the national titles listed. Or something.
Auburn updated page on 5 national titles w/ clear NCAA record book citation. School still only claims 2 titles. No change.— Brandon Marcello (@bmarcello) May 16, 2014
Listen, Auburn can keep making fun of Alabama for claiming retroactive titles, or it can list retroactive titles on its website. But it can't do both by claiming that it doesn't really "claim" those other three national titles. (The 1913 national championship, by the way, is based on an old Richard Billingsley model that he doesn't like anymore. So they're listing a national title based on Billingsley's less favored formula. Counterpoint: The formula that awarded Auburn the title is one that includes margin of victory, so maybe Billingsley should use that one.)
Here is Auburn's "tradition" page from March compared to today. Different wording. No new claims. pic.twitter.com/aM7ZZovXSB— WarBlogle.com (@WarBlogle) May 16, 2014
Here's the thing: Retroactive titles are ridiculous, and no one should recognize, list or claim them. If the human being ranking teams or the human being programming a computer to rank teams didn't even see the team in question play, the ranking should be laughed at and dismissed, nothing more. Richard Billingsley wasn't alive in 1913, so I don't really care which team he or his wondermachine crown as the national title. And if you're going to start bringing the National Championship Foundation into this -- just stop.
But Auburn doesn't list the disputed titles on a completely different web page, y'all. Which is the cheap way out. If you're going to claim retroactive or shady national titles, claim them. Do it like Alabama does: Say they're legitimate, keep using the number until people forget what it's based on, and ignore them when they point out the legitimate questions. Don't list national titles and then try not to claim them. That's spin.
Our friends at College and Magnolia perhaps put it best.
It depends on what your definition of "claimed" is.— College and Magnolia (@CollegeAndMag) May 16, 2014
(HT: SB Nation)