|2003 NCAA Division I-A season|
Gameplay during the BCS National Championship Sugar Bowl for the 2003 season
|Number of teams||117|
|Preseason AP No. 1||Oklahoma|
|Duration||December 16, 2003 – |
January 4, 2004
|AP Poll No. 1||USC|
|Coaches Poll No. 1||LSU|
|Heisman Trophy||Jason White (quarterback, Oklahoma)|
|Bowl Championship Series|
|2004 Sugar Bowl|
|Site|| Louisiana Superdome, |
New Orleans, Louisiana
|Division I-A football seasons|
The 2003 NCAA Division I-A football season ended with an abundance of controversy, resulting in a split national championship. This was the first split title since the inception of the BCS, something the BCS intended to eliminate.
At season's end, three BCS Automatic Qualifying (AQ) conference teams finished the regular season with one loss, with only two spots available in the BCS National Championship Game. Three BCS Non-Automatic Qualifying (Non-AQ) conference teams also finished with one loss, TCU, Boise State and Miami (OH), stirring the debate of the BCS being unfair to BCS Non-AQ conference teams.
LSU defeated Oklahoma in the 2004 Sugar Bowl, securing the BCS National Championship, as the ESPN/USA Today Coaches' Poll was contractually obligated to vote the winner of the BCS National Championship Game No. 1. Meanwhile, when AP No. 1 USC beat (number 5) Michigan in the 2004 Rose Bowl, the AP voters kept USC in the top spot, and USC secured the AP title.
Army became the first team in NCAA Division I-A football modern history to finish the season 0–13.
The Home Depot Coach of the Year Award sponsored by ESPN chose USC coach Pete Carroll as their award recipient, while the Paul "Bear" Bryant Award, voted on by an association of sportswriters, chose LSU coach Nick Saban.
The Orange Bowl game was noteworthy in that Miami and Florida State previously had scheduled to play each other on Labor Day in 2004. Playing in the Orange Bowl ensured that their next meeting would be each of their very next games and their first of the 2004 season.
USC had lost in triple overtime at California on September 27, LSU lost at home to Florida on October 11, and Oklahoma, which had been No. 1 in every BCS rating,AP and Coaches' Poll of the season, lost to Kansas State in the Big 12 Championship Game, 35–7 on December 6. Although USC, then 11–1, finished ranked No. 1 in both the AP and Coaches' Polls, with LSU (12–1) ranked No. 2 and Oklahoma (12–1) No. 3, Oklahoma surpassed both USC and LSU on several BCS computer factors. Oklahoma's schedule strength was ranked 11th to LSU's 29th and USC's 37th. Oklahoma's schedule rank was 0.44 to LSU's 1.16 and USC's 1.48. As such, despite the timing of Oklahoma's loss affecting the human voters, the computers kept Oklahoma at No. 1 in the BCS poll. LSU was ranked No. 2 by the BCS based on its No. 2 ranking in the AP Poll, Coaches Poll, 6 of 7 computer rankings (with the remaining one ranking them No. 1), and strength of schedule calculations. USC's No. 3 BCS ranking resulted from it being ranked No. 1 the AP and Coaches Poll, but No. 3 in 5 of 7 computer rankings (with the 2 remaining computer rankings at No. 1 and No. 4) and schedule strength, though separated by only 0.16 points.
Ted Waitt, CEO of Gateway Computers, offered the NCAA $31 million for a national championship game between USC and Louisiana State.
The NCAA Rules Committee adopted the following rules changes for the 2003 season:
No teams upgraded from Division I-AA, leaving the number of Division I-A schools fixed at 117.
|School||2002 Conference||2003 Conference|
|South Florida Bulls||I-A Independent||Conference USA|
|Utah State Aggies||I-A Independent||Sun Belt|
|WEEK||No. 1||No. 2||EVENT|
|OCT 27||Oklahoma||Miami||Virginia Tech 31, Miami 7|
|NOV 17||Oklahoma||Ohio State||Michigan 35, Ohio State 21|
|DEC 1||Oklahoma||USC||LSU 34, Georgia 13|
Rankings given are AP poll positions at time of game
|1. USC (48)||12–1||1,608|
|2. LSU (17)||13–1||1,576|
|4. Ohio State||11–2||1,411|
|5. Miami (FL)||11–2||1,329|
|9. Washington State||10–3||1,060|
|10. Miami (OH)||13–1||932|
|11. Florida State||10–3||905|
|14. Kansas State||11–4||833|
|16. Boise State||13–1||645|
|23. Bowling Green||11–3||189|
|25. Texas Christian||11–2||126|
Others receiving votes: 26. Oklahoma State 109, 27. Arkansas 73, 28. Virginia 36, 29. Northern Illinois 30, 30. Auburn 8, 30. Oregon State 8, 32. Pittsburgh 7, 32. N.C. State 7, 34. West Virginia 4, 35. Connecticut 2.
Three coaches voted for USC as the No. 1 team, even though the polled coaches are required to vote the BCS champion as No. 1. Because the votes were not public, it is not known which three coaches placed those votes. However, it is known that USC coach Pete Carroll could not have voted for his own team since he was not a voting coach that season.
|1. LSU (60)||13–1||1,572|
|2. USC (3)||12–1||1,514|
|4. Ohio State||11–2||1,370|
|5. Miami (FL)||11–2||1,306|
|9. Washington State||10–3||983|
|10. Florida State||10–3||929|
|12. Miami (OH)||13–1||800|
|13. Kansas State||11–4||746|
|15. Boise State||13–1||704|
|23. Bowling Green||11–3||170|
Also receiving votes
Northern Illinois (10–2) 80; Arkansas (9–4) 74; Oklahoma State (9–4) 63; Auburn (8–5) 20; North Carolina State (8–5) 17; Oregon State (8–5) 15; West Virginia (8–5) 14; Southern Mississippi (9–4) 12; Fresno State (9–5) 6; Hawaii (9–5) 6; Pittsburgh (8–5) 5; Texas Tech (8–5) 4; Marshall (8–4) 3; Virginia (8–5) 3; Boston College (8–5) 2; California (8–6) 1; Connecticut (9–3) 1; Memphis (9–4) 1; Michigan State Spartans (8–5) 1; Missouri (8–5) 1; North Texas (9–4) 1.
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