Why Ohio State's Call to Play Last Year's Bowl Helps Alabama and Georgia Now

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Why Ohio State's Call to Play Last Year's Bowl Helps Alabama and Georgia Now
Scott Halleran/Getty Images
Ohio State played Florida in the 2012 Gator Bowl

Fans of the Alabama Crimson Tide and the Georgia Bulldogs will be sending holiday cards to Waco, Texas, and Palo Alto, Calif., after Baylor and Stanford upset Kansas State and Oregon, putting the two SEC powers back in the hunt for the BCS National Championship Game.

Maybe they should send some thanks to Columbus, Ohio, too, because they probably wouldn't be in this position had it not been for the Ohio State Buckeyes.

Ohio State chose not to self-impose a bowl ban on itself in 2011 as the NCAA investigated the program for players receiving improper benefits, including memorabilia and tattoos.

Instead, the 6-6 Buckeyes accepted a bid to play in the Gator Bowl against Florida. The NCAA hit Ohio State with a one-year bowl ban in late December, after the matchup had already been set.

The game that could cost Ohio State the 2012 BCS National Championship
The ruling means that the Buckeyes are ineligible for a bowl this season, a season in which they currently sit at 11-0 and No. 4 in the Associated Press poll.

Whoops.

To make matters worse, Ohio State lost the Gator Bowl 24-17 to Florida to finish below .500 for the first time since 1988.

All of the BCS focus is on Alabama and Georgia now, but Ohio State would most likely be in the top two, in line to play Notre Dame for the BCS National Championship.

The decision to not self-impose a bowl ban was curious last season when it happened, and it has certainly come back to bite the Buckeyes in the worst possible way.

If Ohio State was eligible this season, would it play for the BCS National Championship?

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Hindsight is 20/20, but for the Buckeyes to choose to go to a bowl game at the end of a mediocre season when it had already secured Urban Meyer—he of two BCS National Championships—as its next head coach was short-sighted, to say the least.

Ohio State is more of a punchline than a powerhouse in SEC circles, thanks to its 0-9 record vs. the SEC in bowl games. That should be a 1-9 record, but these sanctions forced the Buckeyes to vacate their 2011 Sugar Bowl victory over Arkansas following the 2010 season.

But if an SEC team plays Notre Dame in Miami Gardens on Jan. 7 and Ohio State is sitting at home at 12-0, the SEC office should shower Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith with gifts. His fateful and misguided decision not to self-impose a bowl ban in 2011 could be the biggest reason the SEC hoists its seventh straight crystal football in 2012.

 

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