Apparently there is a stipulation in the new BCS contract with ESPN; that contract kicks into gear for the 2011 regular season and adjoining bowl season. In the event that either the Big Ten or PAC 10 champion plays in the BCS National Championship game, the first time that happens in the new deal, a qualifying team from a non-BCS league gets the available slot in the Rose Bowl.
For example, say Ohio State is ranked 1st or 2nd in the final December BCS standings in 2010. They would play in the BCS championship game, and the Rose Bowl has to fill its dance card with someone other than the Big Ten champ. If say Boise State, Utah, BYU, TCU or another team from a non-BCS league is ranked in the Top 12 of the final BCS poll, the Rose Bowl has to take that team to fill the slot vacated by Ohio State.
Why does this matter to Iowa? Well, it might not and in most years, it has not. BUT, say the Hawkeyes had the second best record in the Big Ten and had won at least 10 games that year. There would be a decent chance, given the fact that the Big Ten has put two teams into BCS games in eight of the last eleven seasons, that Iowa might have filled that slot and faced a PAC 10 opponent in the Rose Bowl, like Illinois did at the end of the 2007 season when they were 9-3 and were throttled by USC. In fact, I think the Trojans just scored on Illinois again.
But if what Barnhart writes is true, it would leave Iowa, or any other 10 or more win Big Ten team either looking at a different BCS bowl, or missing out altogether.
SNEAK PEAK AT 2010
Now, this new rule does not affect the 2010 season, but have you dared to take a look at Iowa's 2010 schedule just yet? I know, many of you are just getting familiar with this year's two-deep and schedule, but in case you haven't peered ahead well into the future, the Hawks could be loaded in 2010, with a more favorable schedule.
Let's assume for the sake of optimism that Bryan Bulaga returns for his senior year, as does everyone else that has eligibility.
On the offensive side of the ball, the Hawkeyes will have some holes to fill on the offensive line, but Bulaga and Julian Vandervelde would have a lot of starting experience. Adam Gettis may get time this year as he really flashed in the spring, and Josh Koeppel could be in the mix as well this year, plus others. Tony Moeaki and Trey Stross will be gone, too. Rick Stanzi, Jewell Hampton, DJK, Bulaga, Vandervelde, Allen Reisner and either Bret Morse or Wade Leppert would be back at fullback. So that's likely 6 of 11 starters returning on offense, depending on how position battles go this fall. I expect Rafael Eubanks will earn the center job, and Kyle Calloway will be gone from the line as well, and lets just assume a senior wins the other spot. So that is three offensive linemen, a tight end and a receiver, with plenty of depth at tight end and receiver.
On defense, Iowa will only lose two starters; linebackers Pat Angerer and A.J. Edds. Those are big losses, but there is a lot of depth at this position. Iowa will also return its punter and starting placekicker, too.
Assuming Bulaga is back, and Amari Spievey is back, too, Iowa would return 15 out of 22 starters, good balance on both sides of the ball. That will be in the upper portion of the Big Ten with regards to returning starters.
As for the schedule, Iowa hosts Eastern Illinois, Iowa State and an opponent to be determined. Look for that opponent to be a cupcake. They travel to Arizona in the out of conference road game. In the Big Ten, they host Penn State to start the conference season, then have a bye week before a road game at Michigan, a team that might be hitting its stride under Rich Rodriguez, assuming he is still there and this year isn't another three-win affair. Then it's Wisconsin and Michigan State at home in back to back weeks, followed by a pair of road games at Indiana and Northwestern. Then the Buckeyes come to Kinnick before closing the year on Thanksgiving Weekend at Minnesota on November 27th.
That's a great schedule for a team that looks to be pretty darn solid…a potential three-year starter at quarterback, a seasoned running back in Hampton and fullbacks that know what they are doing, talent, size and speed at wide receiver and a defense that will probably be considered once of the nation's best, depending on how things go this year, and very experienced specialists.
The conclusion that I came to today after taking my first lengthy look at the 2010 season is that Iowa may have completed the first leg of another very, very impressive three year run under Kirk Ferentz. Year two of that run starts in less than 100 days.