If Jake Rudock winds up leaving the Iowa football program, as a national website on Wednesday reported he will, the Hawkeyes will be in the same position many thought they'd be in since late December: with one experienced quarterback.
The only difference? C.J. Beathard would be the one sticking around.
FoxSports.com's Bruce Feldman, citing an unnamed source, tweeted that the starting quarterback in 25 of Iowa's last 26 games is transferring and will visit Jim Harbaugh-coached Michigan next week.
Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz's typical practice on announcing transfers is to do so only when there is finality. The University of Iowa would not confirm Rudock's intent to transfer Wednesday, and football spokesman Steve Roe said Ferentz would discuss any roster changes at his March 25 news conference that opens spring practice.
On-the-record lips are tightly sealed at this point, so Rudock's departure isn't a done deal. The fourth-year junior is still taking classes at Iowa. He's on track to graduate this spring, and at that point he could decide to use his final year of eligibility at another Football Bowl Subdivision school, without sitting out a season.
He could be just exploring his options. But if Rudock does leave, it'd confirm what has been widely speculated for two months — ever since Ferentz released an unprecedented early-January spring depth chart that put Beathard on the QB1 line.
Beathard was named the starter six days after playing 49 snaps to Rudock's 19 in the Jan. 2 TaxSlayer Bowl loss to Tennessee. Just a few weeks earlier, C.J.'s father, Casey, had floated the possibility that his son would transfer after the bowl game. Given Ferentz's loyalty to Rudock in an up-and-down 2014 season, a lot of fans figured that meant Beathard was a goner.
But Ferentz released the depth chart Jan. 8, then held a news conference six days later and discussed the change of heart at QB.
"I think we're all in agreement that the thing (that) gives us a best chance to move forward right now," Ferentz said, "is to give C.J. the chance to be the starting quarterback."
He added: "I thought it was more important to get it out, make it public as fast as possible. There are certain things out there, obviously, that have been out there floating around. I wanted to get those things addressed."
If Ferentz was faced with losing one experienced quarterback either way, he went with the guy that had two remaining years of eligibility — and, arguably, more upside.
"I told you nobody really improved more than C.J. Beathard last spring," Ferentz said in January. "But I was quick to add after that point that Jake Rudock improved an awful lot as well. I could say the same thing in August. Both players improved, and as I said in August, we had confidence we could win with both guys."
Coach discussed Jake Rudock, C.J. Beathard before the Hawkeyes faced Tennessee
Rudock owns a 14-11 record as Iowa's starter; Beathard won his only start last season, at Purdue, when Rudock was injured. Although Rudock completed 62 percent of his passes for 2,436 yards and 16 touchdowns to only five interceptions last season, the Hawkeye offense failed to generate much consistency under his direction. After two red-zone turnovers and a blown 17-point lead in a regular-season-ending loss to Nebraska, the Iowa coaching staff re-opened the QB competition during bowl preparation.
As it turned out, Beathard won the job. And if Rudock is indeed gone, the only remaining scholarship quarterback on the spring roster is 6-foot-4, 222-pound Tyler Wiegers, a four-star recruit from Lake Orion, Mich.
Iowa's quarterback situation is far from where anyone thought a year ago, after Rudock led Iowa to an 8-5 record and Outback Bowl appearance. But it could finally be nearing a resolution.
The Iowa quarterback talked about a 7-5 regular season and the prospects of a bowl game.