On September 8, 2014, the NCAA rescinded many of the remaining sanctions levied against Penn State in July 2012 in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal, including the rest of the original four-year postseason ban which was to keep the Nittany Lions out of a bowl until 2016.
On November 15th, Penn State defeated Temple by a score of 30-13 for their sixth win of the season, allowing them to become bowl-eligible for the first time since 2011.
Today, according to a memo sent to athletic directors of Big Ten member universities by the conference, obtained by ESPN, there's a chance that all of Penn State's successes over the past three months could be for naught as there may not be enough contracted bowls for all of the Big Ten's bowl-eligible schools to attend. This would be the case if only two Big Ten teams are invited to the six New Years bowls. The conference would need Ohio State, Michigan State and Wisconsin all to play in the six games chosen by the college football playoff committee in order to have the rest of its schools participate in its other tied-in bowls.
The Big Ten has three teams at 7-5 (Iowa, Rutgers and Maryland) and two with a 6-6 record, Illinois and Penn State. The conference adopted a tiered bowl selection process last year for its ten contracted bowl slots. If one team had to be left out of a bowl game this year, the decision based on on-field performance would come down to the Illini and the Nittany Lions. Illinois, of course, beat Penn State head-to-head two weeks ago and also has a game up on the Lions in conference standings (3-5 vs. 2-6).
However, conferences also have to think about bowl revenue and the Big Ten would not be able to brush away the fact that a Penn State fanbase, who hasn't seen their school play in a bowl since 2011, would show up in droves if the Nittany Lions were chosen to play in the postseason.
So, what should Penn State fans do?
- Hope for a Wisconsin upset over Ohio State in Saturday's Big Ten Championship Game to enhance the likeliness that three Big Ten teams make it into New Year's Six bowls.
- If the first option doesn't come to fruition, hope that Jim Delany likes money more than rewarding on-field performance.
- As Spread points out in the comments, a conference such as the Big 12, who will almost definitely have two teams in the New Year's Six, may not have enough teams to fill all of their contracted slots and Penn State could take over one of those positions.
Bowl selections will be finalized this weekend. Make sure to come back to BSD when slots are decided for further analysis.