Griffin said there was a teleconference 10 days ago on which a good number of living past presidents of the FWAA and other board members discussed what to do about the 2004 title. He estimated there were 20 people total involved.
The group later sent their votes to FWAA executive director Steve Richardson before today's announcement. Griffin, who was just one vote, did not know how the final tally ended up.
Here's what he had to say:
(How would describe the decision?)
"This would be the equivalent of the NCAA in basketball with something being vacated. I guess that's what we're doing with this."(Did the discussion center on stripping the title from USC or what to do with it afterward?)
"It was probably about half and half. We've awarded a championship since 1954, it would be 56 years, and it's a situation where there were some traditionalists that were on the board who thought we did need to make some kind of a determination as far as a national championship team. But the first big question was whether we were going to take the step of stripping a school of its championship. That took probably 30-35 minutes. We all had a chance to come forward and make our declarations and everything. Then we decided what we were going to do as far as awarding the championship to another team. ... It was a situation where we did decide to leave it vacant."(What was the crux of the discussion for deciding not to award it to another team?)
"It was interesting that there was some discussion for Auburn, obviously, because they had gone through the Southeastern Conference championship and were the only other major team from a BCS conference that ended up undefeated. So yeah, they were on there. But surprisingly enough, Also Utah and Oklahoma got some talk as well, so it wasn't just Auburn, the decision. There was some serious thought that went in to perhaps giving it to more than one team, one team or then just none. And that's kind of where we got bogged down with none."(Does it feel empty not having a champion declared for that season?)
"It all depends on your thing. I thought, this is just my own decision, and I'm just one of 20 who had a voice in this, but my thought was that it was just important that we make a stand to kind of say that we felt what went on was wrong as far as what went on with USC. Obviously they had a player who in time has gone out, turned out to be paid some improper benefits probably. So I thought it was important that we strip the championship from USC. It got to be so difficult. Obviously Auburn had a lot of support. They were undefeated at the time. What would you have said if they had played Oklahoma? We really don't know how that would have played out. What would have happened if they would have played Utah? We don't know how that would have played out. And I think in the end, that is what kind of led me to vote to not give the championship out.(Was this a difficult measure to take?)
"I can't speak for some others. There were some very forceful discussions on the board of people who thought that Auburn deserved the national championship. Several veteran SEC reporters stated their points rather forcefully. In the end, they didn't have enough votes to balance out some of the other people involved."
"Obviously, when you look at it, it was a tough decision for us to strip the championship, first of all. This was the first time this has happened in 56 years. But also to, it was difficult for some people not to award it, while others thought that maybe the decision we made was the right one at this time."