AUBURN, Alabama — Auburn may be the football program that is most responsible for the death of the BCS.

The Tigers were the last undefeated SEC team to be left out of the BCS Championship Game and the ensuing College Football Playoff. All Auburn fans remember the story. The 2004 Tigers ran through the SEC undefeated, won the SEC title and was subsequently left out of the BCS title game in favor of USC and Oklahoma.

Well, in the years since, then-coach Tommy Tuberville has urged Auburn to claim the national title. In fact, he re-started that campaign when USC was stripped of the title because of NCAA sanctions related to the investigation into running back Reggie Bush.

Well, Auburn never claimed the national title, despite then-athletics director Jay Jacobs forming a committee to decide whether to claim more than the school’s two recognized national titles (he was looking at possibly claiming five national championships). Like many things late in the Jacobs era, the idea began and ended in the press and never saw the light of day (stadium renovation, claiming national titles, adding video boards to the backside of college football’s largest video board, etc.).

But Auburn’s 2004 SEC champions have not been lost in history. In fact, Sports Illustrated recently listed that group of Tigers as the No. 1 team to finish No. 3 in the BCS rankings and fall just short of reaching the national title game.

“A backfield of SEC Offensive Player of the Year Jason Campbell and two top-five NFL picks in Ronnie Brown and Cadillac Williams complemented a punishing defense that only gave up 173.5 yards per game to help the Tigers run the table in the SEC on their way to a 13–0 season and a Sugar Bowl win over Virginia Tech. Auburn had five wins over top-15 teams, surpassing the total between USC and Oklahoma, the teams that eventually played in the BCS championship game. The rankings snub made the BCS a dangerous enemy in SEC commissioner Mike Slive.”

Slive helped make the push toward the death of the BCS and the implementation of the College Football Playoff starting with the 2014 season, the 10-year anniversary of Auburn’s undefeated season.

The SI.com ranking is probably no consolation for Tuberville, who was upset with Auburn not recognizing the Tigers as the national champions when USC was stripped of the title in 2015.

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"I don't know why that (2004 Auburn) team wouldn't be recognized," Tuberville said on WNSP-FM at the time. "USC beat Oklahoma handily. We finished undefeated and they caught USC with their hand in the cookie jar and took the title away from them. I never could understand why they just vacated it instead of saying, 'We're going to name another champion.'

"It doesn't make anybody any money. That's the reason they didn't do it. It doesn't make any money for TV or anybody out there so they just said, 'Ah, we'll just vacate it and we won't have a champion for 2004.'

"Little disappointed with some of the administration there at Auburn that didn't help us with that. They could've stepped up and said, 'Hey, since that happened, we're going to recognize the 2004 team as national champions.' A lot of people would've done that because we did all we could do. We took care of business.'

"But it is what it is and that team will be recognized, no matter how they phrase it, whether it's as national champions or not, as one of the best to ever play at Auburn."