Aubserver Mailbag 124: Would Auburn have beaten USC in the 2004 title game?
This week's one-question mailbag breaks down one of the biggest and most-debated "what-ifs" in Auburn football history.
RB Cadillac Williams (Auburn Athletics)
Welcome to June — the fourth quarter of the college football offseason, so to speak.
In three months, actual college football games that matter will be back. Auburn will open its new era with an afternoon home game against UMass that has a chance to feature just the meanest kickoff temperature possible.
In two months, it will be time for fall camp. The return to the practice field will command so much attention on the Plains, as the Tigers look to merge all their new, incoming talent with a current roster wanting to shake off the sting of back-to-back losing seasons. Auburn will have a lot of work to do in a short amount of time, which should make for plenty of things to observe in August.
Before that, SEC Media Days will get the football party really started in Nashville. Once you get through the signature event of “talking season,” you know that football is just around the corner.
But June is the most quiet month on the calendar. With the exception of summer official visits and recruiting, the biggest action in June happens behind closed doors — for both football and basketball — as the work towards the season truly gets going.
That’s what makes June such a wild card month for those of us who write and talk about college football and basketball for a living. It’s also a good time to take some vacation, which I will do next week. (Painter and Dan will handle the pods and the mailbag, while I have a depth chart prediction saved up for such a time as this.)
So when I pitched the idea of a one-question mailbag this week, I know I could have taken a current topic about Auburn football or basketball. And that would have been great. I got a handful of strong questions for this exercise, and I will go back to them for future mailbags.
Yet I was really hoping for a truly offseason topic, and I kept going back to this one over the last couple of days…
If given the chance to play USC, does Auburn win the national championship in 2004?
This is a foundational “what if” for Auburn football fandom. This has spawned so many debates, both online and offline, over the years. What if the 2004 Auburn Tigers — who went undefeated yet still got left out of the national title game — actually got to square off with the powerhouse USC Trojans in the grand finale?
I’ve always had my own opinion on this matter, but I didn’t want to just lean on that for this mailbag. Instead, I wanted to dive into every available resource to measure out this hypothetical matchup between the Jason Campbell, Cadillac Williams, Ronnie Brown and Carlos Rogers-led team of 2004 against the likes of Matt Leinart, Reggie Bush, LenDale White and Shaun Cody.
But let’s start with an additional and equally important question: Should Auburn have gotten in over Oklahoma in 2004 in the first place?
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