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What’chu talkin’ ’bout, Willis: McGahee thinks Miami deserves 2002 BCS championship

Graham Watson
Dr. Saturday

Willis McGahee wants his 2002 national championship ring.

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McGahee

The former Miami running back told CBSSports.com that if Ohio State was forced to vacate the 2002 national championship — the Buckeyes defeated the Hurricanes 31-24 in overtime in the '03 Fiesta Bowl — because of NCAA violations, he would "like to have my ring."

It doesn't matter that vacating its 2002 national title hasn't seriously been discussed -- at all -- but McGahee is hanging his hat on the NCAA determining that Ohio State used ineligible players in the game.

It's a longshot, but a plausible argument, especially since Ohio State is under intense scrutiny for a lack of institutional control during coach Jim Tressel's tenure.

The crux of Ohio State's 2002 run-ins with the NCAA stem from shaky allegations regarding former running back Maurice Clarett. Clarett was dismissed from school for a litany of wrongdoings from academic misconduct to making false claims about items stolen from a car borrowed from a local dealer. None of the allegations were substantiated by the NCAA.

And now that Ohio State has been cleared of charges on car deals, there's not much the NCAA could find to result in vacating the title.

Still, McGahee has his wishful thinking cap on, especially since he thinks the Hurricanes were the victims of an officiating gaffe.

"I feel we were cheated anyway," McGahee told the website. "We beat them. The pass interference with the eligible, ineligible players. It wouldn't have made any difference. I can't get my money back that I missed out on a second ring. If they did [cheat] I'd like to have my ring."
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The pass interference heard 'round the world is one of the most controversial calls in a BCS national championship game. Big 12 field judge Terry Porter signaled pass interference against Miami defensive back Glenn Sharpe on fourth-and-3 from the Miami 5 in the first overtime of Ohio State's win. Sharpe tried to jam Ohio State receiver Chris Gamble at the line of scrimmage and when the official closest to the play didn't call a penalty, Porter came from the back of the end zone and threw the flag about 4 seconds after the play had ended.

Miami fans are probably still cursing about it as they read this recap.

After two more downs, Ohio State scored in the first overtime to tie the game and took the eventual game-winning lead in the second overtime. Miami had four chances to score the game-tying or even game-winning score from the Ohio State 2-yard line, but failed.

Even if Ohio State was to vacate the title — and that's a big if — there's no guarantee it would go to Miami. In fact, the BCS has already established a precedent of not rewarding vacated titles when it left USC's vacated 2004 championship off the books altogether.

Also, there's a four-year statute of limitations on NCAA violations. However, there are some caveats in that statute that might cause the NCAA to look at Clarett and Ohio State again, especially in light of everything that Ohio State has been accused of during the past year.

So, McGahee can keep waiting for that 2002 national championship ring to magically appear in his mailbox, but like the Heisman Trophy Trust waiting on Reggie Bush to return his bronze statue, he might be waiting a long time.

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