USC finishes No. 1 in final AP poll, wins share of national title
Posted: Monday January 5, 2004 3:58PM; Updated: Monday January 5, 2004 4:03PM
NEW YORK (AP) -- To chants of "Pete! Pete! Pete!", USC coach Pete Carroll accepted The Associated Press' college football championship trophy Monday, the Trojans' first title in 25 years.
"It's so great to be standing in front of you representing what this university has always been about: winning championships, national championships," Carroll said during the on-campus presentation.
Several hundred students and fans interrupted Carroll's remarks by yelling his name. Some players chimed in, including quarterback Matt Leinart and defensive end Kenechi Udeze.
"How do you top this?" Carroll asked, accepting the AP's silver trophy. "How about doing it again a couple times?"
USC earned 48 of the 65 first-place votes early Monday to finish No. 1 in the AP poll. The Trojans (12-1) topped Coaches' poll champion LSU, which beat Oklahoma 21-14 in BCS title game Sunday night in the Sugar Bowl.
USC beat Michigan 28-14 in the Rose Bowl on Thursday to stake its claim to the title.
The coaches were obligated to crown LSU (13-1), even though USC held the top spot in their poll going into the bowls. Three of the 63 coaches broke the agreement by voting the Trojans No. 1, but it wasn't enough to win that poll.
"The argument about the system is out there and that's probably good," Carroll said. "We did what we could, impressing the people in the AP poll and the coaches who felt free to vote."
Clay Haswell, the AP's chief of bureau for California and Nevada, presented the trophy to Carroll.
It's the first split national championship since 1997, when Michigan won the AP poll and Nebraska was the coaches' choice. The Bowl Championship Series started the following season with the goal of determining an undisputed champion.
The Trojans have been involved in three of the 11 split titles in college football history. In 1978, they won the coaches' poll while Alabama won the AP poll, and in 1974, the coaches picked USC while the media picked Oklahoma.
The Trojans hadn't won the AP poll since 1972, when they were the undisputed champion. That was also the last time a Pac-10 team won the AP title. Washington won the coaches' poll in 1991.
USC has four AP titles overall, tied with Minnesota, Nebraska and Ohio State for the fifth-most.
In the final, post-bowl AP poll, USC received 1,608 points to beat out LSU by 32 points. Oklahoma was third, followed by Ohio State and Miami.
The top five in the coaches' poll was LSU, USC, Oklahoma, Ohio State and Miami.
Michigan, Georgia, Iowa, Washington State and Miami of Ohio rounded out the Top 10. Florida State was next, followed by Texas, Mississippi, Kansas State, Tennessee, Boise State, Maryland, Purdue, Nebraska and Minnesota.
Utah, Clemson, Bowling Green, Florida and TCU rounded out the poll.
The SEC and Big Ten led all conferences with five teams apiece, followed by four for the Big 12, three for the ACC, and two each for the Pac-10 and Mid-American.
The Big East, WAC, Mountain West and Conference USA each had one team, leaving the Sun Belt conference as the only Division I-A league without a team in the final poll.