I owe Erik from Tallahassee, Fla., an apology.
Last week, Erik asked whether Penn State or Ohio State could be named Leaders division champions despite being banned from postseason play, and, consequently, the Big Ten championship game. My understanding was that they couldn't, and that the Big Ten would acknowledge the championship game participant from the Leaders division as the official division champ.
I was wrong.
The Big Ten confirmed to me Tuesday that both Penn State and Ohio State can be named official Leaders division champions this season -- and, in Penn State's case, during the next three seasons -- despite the postseason ban. The teams even would earn a trophy from the league for winning the division. The division representative in the Big Ten title game would not have the "champion" label if it finishes second or third in the standings.
While the Big Ten doesn't acknowledge Ohio State's 2010 league title or Penn State's league titles in 2005 and 2008 -- all of which have been vacated -- it would recognize the Buckeyes or Lions as Leaders division champs if they finish atop the standings.
So there's some hardware for the Buckeyes and Nittany Lions to play for after all.