The Indiana football program will not have a Big Ten logo on its helmet or jersey in Saturday’s Outback Bowl against Ole Miss (12:30 p.m. ET on ABC), though head coach Tom Allen denied that the decision stemmed from the conference changing rules to let five-win Ohio State into the championship game or that the Hoosiers felt slighted during the bowl selection process.
Indiana typically wears the B1G logo on its front helmet bumper, but that was replaced with the acronym “LEO.” The conference mark that is typically on the right chest was also covered by the Outback Bowl patch.
“Since I took over as Indiana head coach, this program’s mantra has been LEO: Love Each Other,” Allen said in a statement. “This season has been the most trying we will ever experience and we felt it was appropriate to showcase LEO, which has carried us through one of the most historic years in Indiana football history. We did not intend to show any disrespect to anyone. We are a proud member of the Big Ten and are always representing our conference. LEO is the foundation of our program and we want to bring in 2021, focusing on our team and Love Each Other.”
Indiana traditionally wears its bowl patch on the left shoulder (above the adidas logo), as was the case in the 2007 Insight Bowl loss to Oklahoma State, 2015 Pinstripe Bowl loss to Duke, 2016 Foster Farms Bowl loss to Duke and last year’s Gator Bowl loss to Tennessee. Perhaps the decision to wear the Outback Bowl patch on the right side was in response to those defeats, and the Hoosiers simply didn’t want to cover or remove the social justice patch just above where the B1G used to reside.
That said, Indiana finished the regular season at 6-1 but was left out of the Big Ten Championship Game after the conference changed its rule that requires teams to play six games to be eligible for the title game. That allowed the Buckeyes, who played just five games but beat the Hoosiers in their head-to-head matchup and would have advanced regardless of the result of their cancelled game against Michigan, represent the East Division.
Indiana then missed out on a New Year’s Six bowl game after the College Football Playoff committee ranked the program at No. 11, although the program sits at No. 7 and 8 in the media and coaches polls, respectively. Some believe the Hoosiers were also passed over by the Citrus Bowl, the game intended for the Big Ten’s second-best team, in favor of Northwestern, which suffered its second loss in the title game against Ohio State.
Photo courtesy of @IndianaFootball on Twitter.