Alabama's Richardson and Shelley celebrate after they defeated LSU in the NCAA BCS National Championship college football game in New Orleans

SEC spring storylines

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Six straight BCS championships later, the SEC is undeniably the king’s conference of college football. There’s just one problem: the SEC’s vice grip on the BCS championship is going to end.

(Eventually)

Captain obvious, I know, but it’s just not wise to be picking against the SEC these days — especially the SEC West, which is home to the last three national champs and could very well make a run for its fourth in 2012. Alabama, Arkansas and LSU will all be in the limelight again as Top 10 teams.

Where the SEC needs some help is the overall depth of the conference, specifically in the East division. When traditional powers are good, the perception of the conference rises, and no team needs to elevate their game like Tennessee. The Vols are in a horrible slump and if Derek Dooley doesn’t turn it around soon, the heat beneath his coaching seat will be rising fast.

But there’s a lot to look forward to this spring in the SEC, including the new additions of Missouri and Texas A&M. Here’s what we’re watching:

The newbies 
Duh. The latest round of conference realignment started at the end of last summer when Texas A&M “resurrected its courtship” with the SEC, which resulted in the Aggies and Missouri joining as the conference’s 13th and 14th members. But now it’s about to get real. Can the former Big 12 members succeed in the SEC? It’ll be a tougher road for A&M right away; the Aggies are breaking in a new coach in Kevin Sumlin and replacing some key starters in what will undoubtedly be the toughest division — again — in college football. Missouri is a foreigner, a Midwest school going to places like Columbia and Gainesville. As spring practices commence, folks in SEC country are going to have a lot of interest in how Mizzou and A&M look.

Memo to the SEC East: let’s be a little more competitive, okay?
The SEC East posted a 6-13 record against the West last season, with half of those wins coming from East division champ Georgia. Granted, the West was top-heavy, housing three of the best five or six teams in college football and the bottom of the East was atrocious. But the last time the SEC East did anything significant was Florida’s 2008-09 BCS championship run. It’s uncertain if the East will improve this year, but it has the potential. Georgia and South Carolina will, again, be getting the preseason pub, but Florida, Vanderbilt — yes, the Commodores — and Missouri can all be considered in that next tier mix. Of course, everybody comes out of spring feeling pretty optimistic, but we’ll be watching to see if any team actually looks like they can challenge the West for the SEC crown — as tough as that may be to gauge.

Arkansas “offensive” O-line 
The Razorbacks managed to net just under 1,800 yards on the ground last season without Knile Davis, who sat out 2011 because of an ankle injury. Not bad for a group run by committee through an offensive line that had its fair share of struggles. Also, the fact that quarterback Tyler Wilson isn’t currently in iron lung after the shots he took last season is a feat within itself. If Arkansas is going to stay par for the course with their offensive production, they need Wilson to stay healthy, which means the O-line has to do a better job of protecting him while providing plenty of holes for the returning Davis. O-line improvement is a must for the Hogs this spring.

Copied and pasted from last year: Alabama, LSU favorites again 
Anyone ready for round two? Or, I guess, round three, maybe four? Months after meeting in the BCS championship game, all eyes will be on the defending national champion, Alabama, and the team that beat the Tide during the regular season but eventually lost when it matter most, LSU. Both lose a ton of talent to the NFL, especially on defense, but there always seems to be plenty of able and willing replacements to step in to starting roles. The quarterback situation for the Tide and Tigers is interesting, too. AJ McCarron showed remarkable improvement in the BCS championship and may be more than a “game manager” for Bama in 2012, and Georgia transfer Zach Mettenberger appears to be the favorite to lead LSU out of its quarterback slump.

Doo(ley) or Die time in Knoxville?
It’s sort of wild to think that Derek Dooley could be out after three years at Tennessee if he doesn’t turn it around and fast, but that seems to be the feeling as the Vols enter spring practice. After a decent inaugural year for Dooley that included a Music City bowl appearance, things took a turn for the worse last season when Tennessee went 5-7, finished last in the SEC East and lost to Kentucky. Woof. The Vols are filled with young talent, not to mention plenty of new coaches, but things haven’t completely come together yet. It’s a shame, too. Dooley’s a likeable (and quotable) coach, but mercy isn’t exactly at the front of everyone’s minds in Knoxville. Plus, there’s a new athletic director in town… who didn’t hire Dooley. It’s time to impress.

Baylor issues statement in wake of president’s reported ouster

WACO, TX - DECEMBER 06:  Baylor University President and Chancellor Ken Starr runs onto the field with the Baylor Line before their game against the  Kansas State Wildcats on December 6, 2014  at McLane Stadium in Waco, Texas.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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It appears the reports of the demise of Baylor’s president are, at least for now, premature.

Tuesday morning the college football world awoke to the news that BU was expected to remove Ken Starr as the university’s president before the end of the month, if not sooner.  The latter seemed to come to fruition as, a short time after HornsDigest.com released that report, the recruiting website updated to state that the school’s Board of Regents had indeed fired Starr.

Starr, in his sixth year as president, had been mentioned in a damning Outside the Lines report earlier this month as having been aware of at least one instance of assault involving a Bears football player and did nothing.

A short time after the Scout.com report surfaced this morning, Baylor released a statement in which Starr is not mentioned specifically, but the timeline for a public response to an independent report on the university’s handling of sexual assault allegations involving football players was detailed.

The Baylor Board of Regents continues its work to review the findings of the Pepper Hamilton investigation and we anticipate further communication will come after the Board completes its deliberations.  We will not respond to rumors, speculation or reports based on unnamed sources, but when official news is available, the university will provide it.  We expect an announcement by June 3.

Injury-plagued Utah TE Evan Moeai says he’s getting fifth year

SALT LAKE CITY, UT - SEPTEMBER 3: Close up view of the new satin red football helmets worn by the Utah Utes during their game against the Michigan Wolverines at  Rice-Eccles Stadium on September 3, 2015 in Salt Lake City, Utah. (Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr/Getty Images)
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Finally, a break has gone Utah’s Evan Moeai‘s way.

On the very first play from scrimmage during the 2014 season opener, Moeai sustained what turned out to be a season-ending knee injury.  A year later, in the 2015 opener, the tight end went down with yet another season-ending injury.

According to the Deseret News, Moeai posted on his private Instagram account that he has received a fifth season of eligibility from the NCAA.  The Utes have yet to confirm the development, although it’s one that’s been expected.

Moeai began his collegiate career at the JUCO level, then played in three games during his first season with the Utes in 2013.  He, obviously, played in one game each of the last two seasons.

Moeai caught one pass for five yards in 2015 before he went down with his second season-ending injury.

Ex-Ohio State lineman to continue career at Cincinnati

CINCINNATI - NOVEMBER 13:  Fans of the Cincinnati Bearcats cheer on their team at the start of the game against the West Virginia Mountaineers at Nippert Stadium on November 13, 2009 in Cincinnati, Ohio.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
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Less than two weeks after leaving Ohio State, Grant Schmidt has a new college football home — and he won’t even have to leave the state to get there.

Citing university sources, the Cincinnati Enquirer is reporting that Schmidt will continue his collegiate playing career at Cincinnati.  The offensive lineman had indicated earlier this month that the Bearcats would be his landing spot.

Because of NCAA transfer rules, Schmidt will be forced to sit out the 2016 season.  He would then have three years of eligibility remaining beginning in 2017.

A three-star member of OSU’s 2015 recruiting class, 247Sports.com rated Schmidt as the No. 52 offensive tackle in the country and the No. 1 player at any position in the state of South Dakota.  Schmidt was the first player from that state to sign with the Buckeyes, but he failed to become the first to play in a game as he didn’t see the field during his brief stint in Columbus.

Schmidt’s mid-May move was believed to be related to a logjam along the offensive line and his failure to make a dent on the depth chart during spring practice.

Josh Rosen, on UCLA’s $280 million deal: ‘we’re still amateurs though … gotta love non-profits’

SANTA CLARA, CA - DECEMBER 26:  Josh Rosen #3 of the UCLA Bruins runs back to the bench after he threw a touchdown pass to Kenneth Walker III against the Nebraska Cornhuskers during the Foster Farms Bowl at Levi's Stadium on December 26, 2015 in Santa Clara, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
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Here’s to guessing that, right or wrong, Jim Mora won’t be pleased with his young quarterback’s latest social media foray.

Late last week, the UCLA head coach used the public airwaves to help “guide” Josh Rosen down the straight and narrow.  Specifically, in regards to the Freshman All-American infamous “f**k Trump” cap flap this offseason, Mora stated that the rising sophomore was “heading towards Johnny Manziel” territory with stunts like that.

Hyperbole?  Yes.  But Rosen is seemingly hellbent on giving Mora further reason to continue down his odd “Money Manziel” path.

Shortly after it was reported that UCLA was set to sign a record-breaking $280 million apparel deal with Under Armour, Rosen took to social media to offer up some snark on the financial windfall that will line the pockets of the athletic department — and which the student-athletes won’t get a sniff.

We’re still amateurs though … Gotta love non-profits #NCAA

A photo posted by Josh Rosen (@josh3rosen) on May 24, 2016 at 8:53am PDT

(The tweet above was retweeted on Rosen’s personal Twitter account)

Coming from a kid who had a hot tub in his dorm his freshman season and whose parents graduated from Ivy League schools — one’s a surgeon — it might not be the actual money but the principle that has Rosen feeling feisty.  Whether his head coach gets just as feisty on his own JFF moral high ground in return remains to be seen.