Other reporters, most notably the ESPN Big Ten blog, which spearheaded the effort, have tackled the topic of what happens should a team like Ohio State have the best record in their division.
In short, even if a team is inelgible for the postseason, they are still able to be Legends or Leaders champions, and they still bring home a trophy.
What I was curious about is why nobody seemed to realize that until this week…not even the Buckeyes.
As conference spokesman Scott Chipman explained it to me, the problem was the league’s policy is not explicit on the point. Although it has always been the case that the team with the best record won the conference or division title (so long as they were playing games that counted in the standings), the Big Ten had not specified that this was true even if a team was unable to reach postseason play.
In fact, it wasn’t entirely clear at the league office. Chipman conceded that conference staff gathered to debate the question when ESPN called.
You know the end result. Now you know why we didn’t know before.
(Added bonus: You’ll note the Big Ten tie-breakers do take into account a team’s eligibility for a bowl game.)