Iowa responds to former ESPN analyst's 'offensive' comments about ex-QB

Former ESPN broadcaster Ed Cunningham said he didn’t agree with Iowa’s handling of C.J. Beathard in the Outback Bowl. (AP)

Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz issued a statement through the athletic department Tuesday defending the way the team handled quarterback C.J. Beathard during the Outback Bowl.

Iowa’s treatment of Beathard was questioned by former ESPN broadcaster Ed Cunningham in a New York Times article. Cunningham told the Times the reason he resigned from his job at ESPN was because of safety concerns regarding football. The “last straw,” the report said, was Cunningham’s call of Iowa’s loss in the Outback Bowl as he watched Beathard get hit multiple times.

“I know some of the coaches from that team, known them for years,” Cunningham told the Times. “And it was hard for me not to walk down after the game and just say: ‘Dudes, what are you doing? Really? What are you doing?’ These are just kids.”

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Iowa lost the game 30-3 to Florida. In his statement, Ferentz called Cunningham’s comments “surprising and offensive.”

“As a seasoned head football coach and the father of three sons who have played collegiate football, the health and safety of our student-athletes is a top priority of the Hawkeye Football program. We have a strong relationship with the medical staff and medical experts at the University of Iowa. Each player is fully evaluated and all established protocols are followed prior to the decision to play and during the game.

Comments made by a retiring sports broadcaster about the coaching staff subjecting a player to possible long-term health related issues because we allowed him to play in the Outback Bowl were surprising and offensive to our coaching staff, the player and his parents. We do not allow a student-athlete to play unless he is medically cleared – that is my commitment to our players and their parents.”

The school’s statement also included a comment from Beathard’s father, Casey. C.J. is currently playing for the San Francisco 49ers and was the 104th pick in the 2017 NFL draft.

“The coaching and medical staff at Iowa were always very thorough and diligent in addressing any injury situations, and shared all medical information with C.J. and us, as parents,” Casey Beathard’s statement said. “We had absolute confidence in Coach Ferentz, his coaching staff and the medical team to make player safety an uncompromising priority on game day, on the practice field and in the weight room.”

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Nick Bromberg is the editor of Dr. Saturday and From the Marbles on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!