Analysis: Ferentz knew stakes in Beathard-Rudock choice

Chad Leistikow
Iowa quarterback C.J. Beathard took a beating against Tennessee on Jan. 2 but piled up more impressive numbers than Jake Rudock.

IOWA CITY, Ia. – Was there anything Kirk Ferentz could have done differently to keep Jake Rudock from exploring transfer options?

Probably not – much like Ferentz likely would have been helpless to losing C.J. Beathard, too, if he hadn't named him the starting quarterback on Jan. 8.

The 17th-year Iowa head coach essentially could've written "Sunshine's my guy" on that unprecedented January depth chart that put Beathard on the No. 1 line, ahead of Rudock.

Now with Rudock off the depth chart completely as he looks around, it's Beathard and backup Tyler Wiegers or bust.

A reporter started to ask a question at Wednesday's spring-practice-opening press conference about the choice facing Ferentz after Beathard threw for 145 yards, rushed for 82 and led three touchdown drives in the Jan. 2 TaxSlayer Bowl.

"Was your sense at that time that no matter which one of those two you chose to start …"

Ferentz interrupted.

"Not necessarily, no," Ferentz said. "I didn't mean to cut you off, but I think I know where you're going on that.

"I think a lot more was maybe made in the media than anything I was sensitive to. That never really factored into it. It's always a reality. It was a reality last August when we made the decision to go with Jake."

So Ferentz knew the reality, that he might lose Beathard or Rudock with whatever he decided. And rather than let it linger, he chose the guy who has two years of eligibility remaining and more upside than the guy with one year and whose performance in the regular-season-ending 37-34 loss to Nebraska re-opened the quarterback competition.

"You could have played it a couple different ways, but I think in the best interest of our football team, after that ballgame (in which Beathard played 49 snaps to Rudock's 19), it was best to name a No. 1, name a No. 2," Ferentz said, "and then move on from there."

Ferentz was in a looser mood than he was on Jan. 16, the last time he met the media. A guy who will turn 60 before Iowa's next football game seemed energized, even after fielding 14 consecutive quarterback questions.

Perhaps making a definitive QB1 call two months ago helped him move forward from the 45-28 loss to Tennessee. Ferentz deadpanned Wednesday that the only good thing about that trip to Jacksonville, Fla., was that "we all got back safely."

"It's a new season. We've got a good opportunity in front of us, we've got a lot of challenges, as well, and what else can you ask for?" Ferentz said. "So yeah, I feel really good about things. I think all of us are ready to get back out on the field and see what we can do with this opportunity. We've got a lot of work to do, but that's the fun of it."