March is indeed the month for madness on the hardwood, but it's also the time of year for spring football practices and intrasquad games on most campuses. Coaching staffs are busy looking at new faces to fill voids left by seniors who used up their collegiate eligibility, along with those sophomores and juniors who opted for early-entry into the NFL.
So with that in mind, here are a few storylines to keep up with the next few weeks, as well as on into the summer when college hoops will be well behind us.
QB Battles Take Center Stage
Not all starting quarterbacks are gone across the college football betting landscape, though it might seem that way, and finding new signal callers will be one of the most daunting tasks that many head coaches and their offensive coordinators face.
One of the quarterback battles getting a lot of attention is taking place at Texas A&M as the Aggies search for the heir to Johnny Manziel's job. A three-way race has emerged in early spring drills with senior Matt Joeckel, sophomore Kenny Hill and freshman Kyle Allen in a battle that probably won't be decided until August workouts.
Alabama also is auditioning new pivots to replace AJ McCarron, and like the Aggies, expect the Crimson Tide job to still be undecided until later this summer. Blake Sims, a senior, is penciled in at the top of the depth chart currently, but he'll be getting pressure in spring camp from Alec Morris, Cooper Bateman and Parker McLeod.
Once summer arrives, Jacob Coker will start to push all four of them. Coker is transferring to Tuscaloosa from Florida State where the junior is about to earn his degree and didn't see any future backing up Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston.
Central Florida is also trying to find a new arm to fill big shoes after the departure of Blake Bortles, who is projected as the top QB to be taken in April's NFL Draft. Knights head coach George O'Leary will be looking at sophomore Justin Holman, redshirt freshman Pete DiNovo and new recruit Tyler Harris.
Coaching Changes Mean New Systems To Learn
Nineteen schools introduced new head coaches in recent months, and even more than that are bringing aboard new offensive and defensive coordinators. Trying to figure out which squads are picking up new schemes and strategies the quickest can be tough, but its essential for bettors to have some grasp of that once NCAA football futures odds grow with season win totals and conference championship wagers.
A couple of Pac-12 schools to keep an eye on are USC and Washington who are connected at the hip with new head coaches. The Trojans hired Steve Sarkisian away from Washington after a tumultuous season in their sidelines, and the Huskies brought former Boise State guru Chris Petersen. Southern Cal, a 30/1 pick to win the National Championship, is expected to contend for the conference crown with Oregon, Stanford and UCLA. Washington is facing a rebuilding year under Petersen as a 125/1 selection.
Will Saban Get His Wish To Slow Down Offenses?
Up-tempo, run-&-gun offenses have made a meteoric rise on college gridirons, but if Alabama's Nick Saban gets his wish, restrictor plates are in the future.
Saban has been whining about this for a couple of years now, but finally helped get a potential rule change in front of the NCAA Football Rules Committee recently. The rule tweak being considered was to have forced offenses to not snap the ball before at least 10 seconds had run off the 40-second clock. The Crimson Tide head coach cited potential injury risk to players on both sides of the ball with the hurry-up offenses, but the committee set the change aside until more studies can be conducted.
“You go on a (long) drive and they’re snapping the ball as fast as you can go, and...(your players) can’t even get lined up,” Saban said last summer. “That’s when guys have a much greater chance of getting hurt...when they’re not ready to play.”
Boohoo, Nick. Maybe you should simply concentrate on getting your players ready to play with better schemes and preparation.