The Most Important College Football Storylines So Far This Spring

Brian Leigh@@BLeighDATFeatured ColumnistMarch 27, 2015

The Most Important College Football Storylines So Far This Spring

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    Joe Robbins/Getty Images

    Spring football kicked off in February, and in the seven weeks since—thankfully—not much has happened.

    Thankfully? Yes, thankfully. More bad things than good things can happen during spring camp. Typically, the biggest storylines from spring ball concern injuries and arrests and suspensions.

    The less news we have, the better.

    Still, that doesn't mean the past seven weeks have been barren. A few major incidents have happened—some concerning off-the-field issues, others concerning players going down or leaving schools.

    Here's a quick recap of what we've seen through March 27.

Documents: UAB Football Was Doomed Before the Season

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    Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

    When UAB canceled football in December, the school claimed the decision was fresh. Cynics at the time disbelieved UAB—many signs pointed to the move being premeditated—but university president Ray Watts stood before his students and said the decision to kill football, along with bowling and rifle, was made in November.

    However, new documents suggest that Watts was lying and that UAB football was doomed long before November.

    Per Kevin Scarbinsky of AL.com:

    The documents show that public relations firm Sard Verbinnen & Co. prepared detailed plans for UAB to announce last September that it would eliminate the three programs, months before the school made the actual announcement.

    The documents also show the school pushed back the announcement date until the conclusion of the football team's regular season on the advice of both Sard Verbinnen and CarrSports.

    The documents indicate that Watts misled his student-athletes, coaches, supporters, faculty members and others on at least three separate occasions in November and December when he said the decision to kill the three sports wasn't made until November.

    As a result, Alabama state representative Jack Williams, the publisher of BlazerSportsReport.com on the Rivals.com network of college websites, has called for Watts' immediate resignation.

    "[The document] clearly shows the decision had been made in spring or early summer to kill the program," Williams said, per Gene Wojciechowski of ESPN.com. "The president is lying to the board, faculty, students and the community at large. ... I call for Dr. Watts to resign."

Washington QB Cyler Miles Takes Leave of Absence

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    Ted S. Warren/Associated Press

    Last year, Washington quarterback Cyler Miles missed spring camp after allegedly assaulting a Seattle Seahawks fan during the Super Bowl. He never saw a charge for the crime, worked his way back onto the team and started at QB for most of the season, although the Huskies did suspend him for the first game of the year.

    This year, he was supposed to battle redshirt freshman K.J. Carta-Samuels and true freshman Jake Browning to retain his starting job. By virtue of experience, he had a strong chance to keep his position, but he would have to play well this spring to keep the freshmen at bay.

    But now? So much for that. Miles took a voluntary leave of absence and will miss all of spring camp, citing personal reasons.

    "Cyler is dealing with some things in his life that are more important than football, and he felt it was important to take some time away from the game," head coach Chris Petersen announced, per Kyle Bonagura of ESPN.com. "We are working to support him in any way we can and hope he returns back to the football field soon."

    Carta-Samuels and Browning will compete to start while Miles confronts his issues. Even if he returns, he may no longer be the favorite. The team made clear that this is not a disciplinary issue, but Miles struggled enough in 2014 that he needed to play well this spring.

QB Jake Rudock Will Transfer from Iowa

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    Matthew Holst/Getty Images

    Iowa quarterback Jake Rudock, who started 25 of 26 games the past two seasons, will transfer to another program.

    Head coach Kirk Ferentz announced that he has released Rudock from his scholarship, per Mark Snyder of the Detroit Free Press, and freed the fifth-year senior to play anywhere in 2015.

    Rudock is a graduate student with immediate eligibility. He has long been linked to Michigan, which lacks a proven starter and has already accepted a transfer in former Houston starter John O'Korn—but O'Korn will miss next season, per NCAA transfer rules.

    Rudock visited Michigan in early March, more than two weeks before Iowa granted his release, per Bruce Feldman of Fox Sports. If he does land with the Wolverines, he'll compete with junior Shane Morris, redshirt freshman Wilton Speight and true freshmen Alex Malzone and Zach Gentry for the starting job.

    If not, he'll make another team happy.

Oklahoma Responds to Racist Fraternity Video

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    Sue Ogrocki/Associated Press

    A video wherein University of Oklahoma students participate in a racist chant sent shockwaves through the city of Norman.

    The story permeates far beyond the football field, but OU athletes became involved when linebacker Eric Striker posted a profane rant on Snapchat. He has since apologized for the tone of his remarks but not for the content: He's mad as all hell, and he should be.

    Former Oklahoma commit Jean Delance, a 4-star offensive lineman in the 2016 class, decommitted from the Sooners after watching the video, saying in a special to Bleacher Report that he was "disgusted" by what he saw and that he "probably won't be considering Oklahoma anymore."

    Head coach Bob Stoops and the players, however, have done their part to condemn the remarks and rally with the rest of the community.

    "I think [OU's players] realize it's everywhere," Stoops told Gene Wojciechowski of ESPN.com. "It's around the country. We happen to have it; let's try to do something with it and try to effect change. And I'm proud of the way they've done it."

Ohio State QB J.T. Barrett Returns Ahead of Schedule

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    Paul Vernon/Associated Press

    Ohio State's three-way quarterback battle was supposed to start this summer. Only Cardale Jones seemed healthy enough to participate in spring camp; Braxton Miller (shoulder) and J.T. Barrett (ankle) were supposed to let their wounds heal longer.

    In Miller's case, that's what happened. He is not a full-go for spring camp. But Barrett, who last year started 12 games over Jones and won Big Ten Quarterback of the Year, has returned ahead of schedule.

    Per Ben Axelrod of Bleacher Report:

    While Miller stood off on the sideline, still recovering from the torn labrum in his throwing shoulder that ended his 2014 season before it started in August, the battle between Jones and Barrett already appeared to be underway.

    The two routinely topped each other by the throw, alternating pass attempts in the seven-on-seven drills that filled the better part of the first hour of Ohio State's fourth spring practice of 2015.

    Watching Barrett in those drills, you wouldn't have even been able to tell he's still recovering from the fractured ankle that brought an end to his…season in the Buckeyes' regular-season finale last November.

    Jones led Ohio State to wins over Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship Game, Alabama in the Sugar Bowl and Oregon in the College Football Playoff National Championship, but keep an eye on Barrett this spring. There's a reason he won the starting job over Jones to begin with.

Arizona State WR Cameron Smith Out for Season

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Arizona State receiver Cameron Smith, one of the leading candidates to replace Jaelen Strong, will miss the 2015 season after undergoing knee surgery, according to Doug Haller of AZCentral Sports.

    The Sun Devils moved do-it-all running back D.J. Foster to receiver this offseason, but Foster projects better at the slot than on the perimeter. Smith, who finished third on the team with 41 receptions and 596 yards last season, also plays more like a slot guy than the 6'4" Strong, but his experience made him a safe bet to start outside.

    After Strong, Foster and Smith, no other ASU player caught more than 16 passes or had 205 receiving yards last season. Fifth-year senior quarterback Mike Bercovici has shown flashes in relief of Taylor Kelly, but next year he'll lack the weapons to which he's accustomed.

     

    Note: All recruiting info refers to the 247Sports composite rankings.