Brian Bennett of ESPN is suggesting the Big Ten take a drastic step given how the football season has gone in the Leaders division:
If ever there were a year for a league to think radically about its championship game, this was the one. In fact, I’ve got an even more radical idea: Why not let Ohio State play in the Big Ten title game?
Think about it: The Big Ten is already allowing the Buckeyes to officially win the Leaders Division trophy, anyway. The NCAA postseason ban is for bowls only; any restriction on participation in conference championship games is strictly a league decision.
Bennett notes later that he is “mostly being whimsical”. Unfortunately, he is completely whimsical because the NCAA is in fact banning Ohio State from the conference championship game. Here is the text of Ohio State’s postseason ban:
The institution’s football team shall end its 2012 season with the playing of its last regularly scheduled, in-season contest and shall not be eligible to participate in
any postseason competition or take advantage of any of the exemptions provided in Bylaw 126.96.36.199, to include an end-of-season conference championship game.
In theory, if Ohio State had only played 11 games this year, maybe there is enough weasel room to argue they should be allowed to play the conference championship game as a 12th regular season game. But Ohio State already has 12 games scheduled and is not allowed to use any exception to add a 13th.
In the future, it is possible that a school could be banned from just bowls either by the Committee on Infractions, or more likely, through self-imposed sanctions. The Big Ten’s league policy addresses those cases, and is designed to prevent the conference championship (and top bowl spot) from being awarded to a team ineligible to participate in the rest of the postseason.