10/25/2009: The Big Ten rules changed in 2009, FCS games played is no longer a factor.  Click here for more.

11/8/08 Update: Spartan fans, that Iowa win over PSU is a buzz kill. Had Penn State won out and lost to Michigan State, Dantonio and company would go to the Rose Bowl per the rules below. Not to say that Ohio State won’t lose again but I think that’s unlikely.

As reported by Jim Carty and noted here, I’ve confirmed the rule changes to the Big Ten tie-breaker. The rule change applies to the Rose Bowl only, but it does penalized Big Ten teams for scheduling teams from the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS), aka the former Division I-AA.

I got this from the Big Ten offices, who also mentioned that this would be put online at bigten.org ASAP:


Effective for bowl games following the 2006-09 regular football seasons, the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) will consist of five (5) bowl games: BCS National Championship Game, Rose Bowl, Fiesta Bowl, Orange Bowl, and Sugar Bowl. Participation by a Big Ten Conference member institution will be determined as follows:

a. BCS National Championship Game. In the event the conference has one or two football teams ranked No. 1 and/or No. 2 in the final BCS poll, these conference team(s) shall participate in the BCS National Championship Game.

b. Rose Bowl. Unless ranked No. 1 or No. 2 in the final BCS poll, the conference champion shall participate in the Rose Bowl. The championship shall be determined on the percentage basis of conference games (tie games counts ½ win and ½ loss). If there is a tie for the championship, the Rose Bowl representative will be determined as follows:

1) An ineligible team shall not be considered in the standings for determination of the conference representative.
2) If there is a tie for the championship, the winner of the game between these two teams shall represent the conference.
3) If there is still a tie for the championship, or if the tied teams did not play each other, the team that played more games against Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) teams shall be eliminated.
4) If there is still a tie, or if the tied teams did not play each other, or if both teams played the same number of games against an FCS team(s), the representative shall be determined on the percentage basis of all games played.
5) If there is still a tie, the most recent team earning BCS automatic selection shall be eliminated.

The rules go on to describe rules if 3 or more teams are tied, but the FCS rule holds after the head-head rules. And that’s probably the killer. Chances are that two teams tied have met face-to-face, but things get very dicey when there’s a three way tie. This FCS rule becomes critical.

Reaction: I believed Jim Carty when he wrote it but seeing it in black and white is shocking. Why oh why would we schedule Appalachian State knowing this rule was in place? I understand you can’t leave the 12th game open but certainly there were other options somewhere within the BCS-eligible schools!? Or, like in the Artis Chambers incident was this overlooked or interpreted incorrectly by Bill Martin and the athletic department? Speaking of the Chambers thing, this all may be moot if Michigan has to forfeit the Penn State game or is declared ineligible, or if the Wolverines keep playing like they did on Saturday.

But whatever – I’d really like to know if Martin was aware of the rule change when he scheduled the mighty Mountaineers. Who approves these rules anyway? If the each school didn’t have to approve the rule certainly they had some input to the decision.


  1. It simply goes to show that scheduling a non FCS opponent is a stupid, stupid move. I never liked the idea of having a weak schedule in the first place. I’m pretty sure Martin (or whomever) anticipated a much easier road by scheduling I-AA team.

    Having been a Wolverine for my entire life it pains me to say this, but this seemingly innocuous decision may well backfire on them in more than one way now. They’ll deserve what they get if/when it comes to pass.

    Go Blue.

  2. Great post as always, MVictors.

    I really hope it doesn’t come to that. So- Lets just win out.

  3. Why does b) still say that a tie is worth 1/2 win 1/2 loss? Is there any way a game would end in a tie? Maybe lightning storm when the game is tied in the 4th quarter I guess, and they don’t want to get back together to make it up.

  4. I wondered the same thing as tth. The only thing I could think of is that they wrote it that way just in case they ever do away with overtime — it’s a highly unlikely scenario but some lawyer probably came up with that brilliant nugget realizing that the BSC thing runs through 2009 and the Big 10 might decide to change its rules and they wanted to avoid a situation where somebody might inadvertently rely on an “older version” of the rules. But nobody would ever do that….

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  6. You know why this rule is stupid. LSU beat Appalachian State who is probably a better team than Washington, North Texas, Idaho etc.
    I know this is a Big Ten rule, but the best FCS teams are better than the worst Bowl Subdivision Teams.
    Don’t schedule James Madison instead you should schedule Southern Methodist.

  7. Whoo-hoo! Go Spartans! The Buckeyes might be headed to the Rose Bowl

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