Biggest College Football Stories You Likely Missed During March Madness

David KenyonFeatured ColumnistApril 4, 2017

Biggest College Football Stories You Likely Missed During March Madness

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    The three-week excitement of March Madness ended with North Carolina defeating Gonzaga to win the Division I men's basketball national championship, but it also marked the unofficial transition to college football taking a larger share of the headlines.

    But what might you have missed since Selection Sunday and the bracket predictions, upsets and buzzer-beaters that followed?

    As is typical with the offseason, a few storylines—like Baker Mayfield's arrest, for example—are not specifically related to on-field matters. Programs, players and coaches all grabbed some headlines due to past actions or football-related beliefs.

    Transfer announcements and decisions represent the most impactful news, and a brief update about the nation's most interesting quarterback battle deserved a mention.

Baylor Moves to Dismiss Title IX Lawsuit

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    Brad Reagan of the Wall Street Journal previously cited Baylor regents of saying 17 women reported allegations of sexual or domestic assaults that involved 19 football players.

    Now, Baylor has responded to a Title IX lawsuit filed in January by a former student. Phillip Ericksen of the Waco Tribune-Herald provided the details of the case, saying the university argued the "allegations are barred by a two-year statute of limitations."

    Ericksen added: "The university also pushed back on the suit's claims alleging a widespread culture of sexual violence, including 52 rapes committed by 31 football players between 2011 and 2014."

    The cloud of this investigation and court proceedings will likely hover around the program throughout the calendar year.

University Clears Three Minnesota Players

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    As a result of a university investigation, 10 Minnesota players were suspended leading up to the Gophers' Holiday Bowl game in late December.

    Among the four players suspended for one year, three have recently been cleared following an appeals case. According to Joe Christensen of the Star-Tribune, those are Antoine Winfield Jr., Kobe McCrary and Mark Williams.

    They will rejoin Seth Green and Antonio Shenault, two players previously allowed to return to football activities. However, KiAnte Hardin lost his appeal and faces expulsion, while Ray Buford, Dior Johnson and Tamarion Johnson have transferred.

    Winfield, a returning starter at cornerback, recorded 52 tackles and one interception as a freshman. McCrary rushed for 242 yards and three touchdowns as the third-string back, and Williams missed the season because of a hand injury.

Jake Butt: Let Players Profit on Their Likeness

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    Potential high draft picks have a tremendous monetary reason to sit out bowl games, but it's also completely understandable that college athletes desire to play one final game.

    In the unfortunate case of Jake Butt, a torn right ACL shattered his draft stock. However, he shouldn't be the poster boy for sitting out bowl games as much as the Michigan tight end is a perfect example why college players should profit on their own likeness.

    "Why can I see 'I Like Jake Butt and I Cannot Lie,' I see those shirts and I'm living paycheck to paycheck in college," he said, per ESPN.com's Michael Rothstein. "Who knows? Heaven forbid something happens in the NFL; can I really benefit off of it when it was at the most? No, I can't."

    He continued: "The example one of them gave us is you can't go to [get] tires and negotiate your price from $600 to $500 because that's only because of your name. But Joe Schmo can go down the street and he can negotiate his price. It's kind of ridiculous to me."

    Critics of paying players argue that athletic departments often could not afford the extra expense, citing the hundreds of schools that lose money on varsity teams.

    But it wouldn't cost a penny to allow players to capitalize on their personal value and earn a few of their own.

    Of course, that could reduce a school's merchandise income, and we can't have that, now can we?

Nick Saban Rants About Ball-Control Offense, NCAA, Politics

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    Someone must've caught Nick Saban at a bad time.

    Responding to a statement saying Alabama would return to a conservative ball-control offense in 2017, Saban went on a rant, according to Ranier Sabin of AL.com.

    "Philosophically, I don't know where you came up with where we go to ball control," he said. "That's not what we do. The New England Patriots threw the ball over 60-something percent of the time, which is more than we threw it."

    Saban added the assertion was like creating some "s--t," throwing it against a wall and seeing what sticks, complaining that whoever screams the loudest gets the attention. He also vented about high school coaches not being allowed to work at summer camps.

    Whether you think Saban's thoughts are correct or not—and objectively speaking, they're mostly fair—he screamed the loudest, and now he's grabbed the attention.

Early Round of Spring Games Completed

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    Approximately two-thirds of college football's spring games are scheduled to take place April 8, 15 or 22. In other words, a majority of post-spring depth charts are right around the corner.

    However, 19 schools have already completed their intrasquad scrimmage—or practice or glorified activity session.

    Arizona, BYU, Colorado, Duke, Georgia Southern, Hawaii, Illinois, Michigan State, NC State, New Mexico State, Northwestern, Oregon State, San Diego State, South Carolina, Texas Tech, Toledo, UAB, UNLV and Vanderbilt have each wrapped up their spring session.

    Philosophy tweaks, quarterback competitions and depth-chart battles were common topics, but the biggest story was UAB returning the field after a two-year hiatus.

    "It brings tears to my eyes," head coach Bill Clark said after the spring game, per Joseph Goodman of AL.com.

Jeff Badet Transfers to Oklahoma

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    Oklahoma has a significant portion of its receiving production to replace. Heisman Trophy finalist Dede Westbrook amassed 80 catches, 1,524 yards and 17 touchdowns, Joe Mixon posted a 37-538-5 line and Geno Lewis grabbed the third-most passes (32).

    Jeff Badet will ease the transition process.

    A graduate transfer from Kentucky, he announced the decision to join Oklahoma. Badet led the Wildcats last season with 670 receiving yards on 31 catches, tallying four touchdowns.

    Badet accumulated 82 receptions, 1,385 yards and seven scores during three years in Lexington. He'll likely be a starter on the outside in a far more receiver-friendly offense that should benefit from Badet's experience.

Brandon Harris Chooses UNC

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    When the 2017 NFL draft rolls around, four quarterbacks—Mitchell Trubisky, Brad Kaaya, Nathan Peterman and Jerod Evansfrom the ACC's Coastal Division may hear their names called.

    But there might be one fewer competition than expected.

    Former LSU signal-caller Brandon Harris announced he will transfer to North Carolina, which is working to replace Trubisky. The other contenders are Nathan Elliott, Chazz Surratt and Logan Byrd, but none have significant in-game experience.

    Conversely, the grad transfer offers 22 career appearances with 347 pass attempts, 2,756 yards and 20 touchdowns.

    While he struggled against top competition in 2015 and lost the starting job last season, Harris is only a stopgap option for the Heels anyway. He won't make them a championship contender, but the Coastal crown becomes slightly more attainable.

Shaq Wiggins Transferring from Louisville

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    Louisville lost a high-potential piece in its secondary.

    Shaq Wiggins, who transferred from Georgia in 2014, announced he would be playing his final season elsewhere.

    Although the cornerback has not officially revealed any suitors, Mississippi State seems to make sense for Wiggins. The program hired Todd Grantham, who was the corner's coach at both Georgia and Louisville, as the defensive coordinator.

    An honorable mention All-ACC performer two years ago, Wiggins lost his starting position in 2016. Since both corners return, it's no surprise Wiggins sees a brighter future elsewhere.

Jarrett Stidham Impressing at Auburn

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    Either Sean White or Jarrett Stidham will start at quarterback for Auburn in 2016. Stidham has been widely assumed the front-runner, and he seems to be backing up the expectation.

    "I would say arm strength," receiver Ryan Davis said of how the Baylor transfer stands out compared to White, Woody Barrett and other challengers, per Lauren Shute of SEC Country.

    "He's very smart and intelligent, and he knows what he's going to do before he does it. He has a great understanding of the offense and of defenses. That's what stands out to me."

    Though Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn won't—and shouldn't—rush into naming a starter, a healthy Stidham is certain to play in 2017.

Baker Mayfield, Bob Stoops Waiting on the Legal System

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    One thing is certain: When available, Baker Mayfield will be the starting quarterback for Oklahoma in 2017.

    The unknown, however, is if that will be for the entire season. Per Eric Bailey of the Tulsa World, head coach Bob Stoops said he's waiting for the legal process to finish before handing down any team-related punishment for the public intoxication charge.

    "Very disappointed that Baker put himself in that situation," Stoops said. "As you know, it's still ongoing so we won't determine anything until it's complete."

    Perhaps Mayfield, a two-time Heisman finalist, will be suspended. If that happens, the focus will quickly shift to whether it's for longer than one game. Oklahoma plays at Ohio State on September 9, the second weekend of the season.


    All recruiting information via Scout. Stats from cfbstats.com or B/R research. Quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. Follow Bleacher Report CFB Writer David Kenyon on Twitter @Kenyon19_BR.