IOWA CITY -- This bowl season, the University of Iowa is selling itself as a school that hasn't been to Florida in four years.
Or it will be four years this year. Or would be four. The point is, yes, the 2010 Orange Bowl was that long ago.
"One of the things I've been talking about this year is that we haven't been to Florida in four years," Iowa athletics director Gary Barta said Thursday. "Our fan base is excited because the program is on the up rather than the down. Our fans have historically used this as a vacation. That's still true. And the fact that we haven't been to Florida in a few years may add to our ability to get people excited and move tickets."
No, Barta wasn't able to answer the bowl question Thursday. Iowa (8-4) is just like the rest of the bowl-eligibles. It's waiting for bowl assignments to be made official Sunday night, when the Bowl Championship Series bowls are announced at 7:30.
Iowa's fate is tied to whether or not the Big Ten puts two teams in BCS bowls. Win or lose, Ohio State, No. 2 in the BCS standings, is likely a BCS team. Michigan State might be, too, but the Spartans are No. 10 in the BCS. to qualify for a BCS bowl, teams have to be ranked in the BCS top 14.
"I haven't done any math equations on if Michigan State loses," Barta said. "I believe it's going to be a great game. I think it could go either way. If Michigan State loses, no one can answer unequivocally if they'll stay in the top 14 or not. I haven't spent any time on that."
Barta did point out the fact that this is the 100th Rose Bowl. He believes there would be great interest in a traditional Big Ten and Pac-12 matchup.
"If we get two teams in the BCS, it certainly gives us a chance to go a step higher in the bowl process," Barta said.
Barta acknowledged the Outback Bowl, in Tampa, Fla., on New Year's Day is a logical landing for the Hawkeyes, who won four of their last five games. Iowa's last appearance in the Outback was 2009. Iowa hasn't been to the Capital One Bowl, Orlando, Fla., on New Year's Day, since 2005. Iowa's last appearance in the Gator Bowl (Jacksonville, Fla., on New Year's Day) was 1983.
A two-BCS Big Ten bowl order would go: Capital One, Outback, Buffalo Wild Wings (Tempe, Ariz., Dec. 28), Gator, Texas Bowl, Heart of Dallas and Little Caeser's."I'm not counting anybody out," Barta said. "The most commonly discussed in public opinion is the Outback and the Gator. If we go anywhere in Florida, if we go to the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, we'll be thrilled."