Ohio State may have done Iowa a favor.
Had OSU given itself a one-year bowl ban, Iowa would have still been in the Insight Bowl, and next year the Urban Meyer-led Buckeyes could have jumped over Iowa in the bowls' pecking order if the two teams had similar records. Next season, however, Iowa could go to a better bowl because Ohio State gambled and lost.
The school hoped its self-imposed sanctions -- five scholarships over three years; vacating the 2010 season; returning $338,811, which was the school's payout from the Big Ten for its Sugar Bowl appearance last season; and two years of probation -- would be enough of a price to pay for NCAA infractions. They weren't, and Tuesday the NCAA gave the school a one-year bowl ban and a total loss of nine football scholarships.
That bowl ban is for the 2012 season, since it's a little late in the day for the 6-6 Buckeyes to be yanked from their Jan. 2 Gator Bowl game against 6-6 Florida. A fine matchup, that one.
So next year, let's say OSU wins the Leaders Division. It's close to if not a 50-50 bet, I'd say. Wisconsin won't have Russell Wilson at quarterback. Illinois has a new coaching staff, Penn State could be downtrodden, Indiana and Purdue would be considerable longshots to rise to the top. The runner-up goes to Indianapolis. Right?
Let's say OSU goes 9-3 or 8-4. What would have been a Capital One or Outback Bowl trip is now ... nothing. Everyone under the Buckeyes climbs a rung on the league's bowl ladder.
If the BCS takes two Big Ten teams, you could easily see a 7-5 Big Ten team in the Outback, and maybe even in the Cap One.
Of course, overall the penalty is a lousy thing for the Big Ten because it throws one team out of the bowl mix and league title-game mix. I assume the latter is true, since this summer Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany said he couldn't envision a team playing in the championship game if it weren't eligible for the Rose Bowl. And Delany is the Voice of the Big Ten.
Why OSU didn't do what Miami did and give itself a year away from the bowls is beyond me. Miami also went 6-6 (with a win over the Buckeyes included). It banned itself from the postseason this year. Big punishment, that. What it did was save the school some money and aggravation. Ohio State could have done likewise.
Now, if the Buckeyes are off and flying in Meyer's first season, the momentum gets its brakes tapped by sitting out the bowl season. If you're Iowa or Wisconsin or anyone else in the Big Ten, it's somebody else's problem.It also adds strength to what I've been saying for years: Iowa will never, ever fall to the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl.