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The Iowa football coach for the first time discusses the quarterback's plans to depart. Chad Leistikow

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IOWA CITY, Ia. -- Kirk Ferentz responded to quarterback questions for nearly 10 minutes Wednesday, but perhaps no answer summed up things like this one:

"It's like any decisions we've made in 16 years; there's no way of knowing if you're right or wrong," the Iowa football coach said of putting C.J. Beathard on the No.1 line — an early-January decision that triggered two-year starter Jake Rudock to explore transfer options. "You just have to do what you think is best at that given point based on everything you know."

Rudock was not listed on Wednesday's depth chart released to coincide with the opening of spring practice. And he won't be practicing with the team as he mulls options for his fourth and final year of eligibility. He visited the Michigan campus this week.

"Until he decides what he's going to do definitively," Ferentz said, "we'll keep him outside the program at this point."

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Ferentz has granted a release for Rudock to transfer to any school, including inside the Big Ten Conference. In the meantime, Rudock is permitted to work out in the team's facilities.

"He's not banned from the building by any stretch, yet," Ferentz said. "I think right now he just kind of has to finalize what his plans are going to be, and we'll move from there."

Ferentz added, "If Jake's heart is not totally in being here, then it's probably best that he does go somewhere else."

Rudock's impending exit officially makes Beathard, the junior-to-be who won his only career start last season at Purdue, the Hawkeyes' definitive starting quarterback. The new backup, Tyler Wiegers, is a freshman who redshirted in his first season. Behind him will be incoming recruits Ryan Boyle (Dowling Catholic) and Drew Cook (Iowa City Regina).

"I know I've said, we have total confidence in both guys (Beathard and Rudock)," Ferentz said. "I can't say that right now the way the depth chart is. But I couldn't say that in (the top-10 seasons of) 2002, '03 or '04 either."

The transition to Beathard-Wiegers atop Iowa's depth chart began at some point between the Jan.2 TaxSlayer Bowl and the release of an unprecedented Jan.8-released depth chart. That's when Ferentz spoke with his two leading quarterbacks and told them that Beathard — who himself was considering transferring after the bowl game, according to his father — was the new No.1.

Knowing what was out there, Ferentz thought it would be best for the program — and both individuals — to release a January depth chart, something he hadn't done in his first 16 years as Iowa's coach.

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"In my opinion that was the best thing to do for our football team at that given point," Ferentz said. "So that was the driving force behind it."

It's a decision that will be evaluated constantly, especially eight months from now, when the Hawkeyes wrap up their 2015 regular season Nov.27 at Nebraska.

Will Beathard at the helm lead to something better than last year's disappointing 7-6 campaign?

"We'll find out, I guess," Ferentz said about the final QB question he fielded, whether Beathard was energized by his starter status. "We'll see what he does out on the field. But he's done a good job, and he's been doing a good job."

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