Ferentz: Coaches 'owed it to' injured Beathard to keep him in game

Chad Leistikow

TAMPA, Fla. — Yes, there was a discussion between C.J. Beathard and Iowa’s coaches and medical staff about whether he should return to the playing field after the senior quarterback pulled his hamstring in the second quarter of Monday's Outback Bowl.

“They said, ‘How’s it feel to drop back?’” Beathard said after the 30-3 loss to Florida. “I said I could drop back and get out to the back a little bit, but I’m not going to really be able to make any plays with my feet. I told them I wanted to stay in there as much as possible.”

Beathard did return, series after series, and the score kept getting worse and worse. He was hurt when the score was 3-3; he wasn't pulled in favor of freshman Nathan Stanley until there were 3 minutes to go and the Hawkeyes trailed by 27.

Beathard was ineffective and intercepted three times in the fourth quarter.

He estimated he was about “30 percent” in the running department. That might be high.

When he threw the first of his interceptions, Chauncey Gardner ran it back 58 yards for a touchdown. Beathard made a brief attempt to track Gardner down, but his hamstring wouldn’t let him.

Iowa quarterback C.J. Beathard scrambles for yardage, before he pulled his hamstring, during the Outback Bowl on Monday.

“I couldn’t run for anything,” Beathard said.

If Beathard couldn’t run, didn’t the coaches have an obligation to pull him out?

“If he’s going to be in harm’s way, then we’re going to get him out of there, certainly,” Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said. “First and foremost, there’s a medical decision to be made by the doctors and trainers. So it starts there. But if he could go, he was allowed to go.


“Certainly he was limited in what he could do. He wasn’t going to run. But he wanted to compete. We certainly owed it to him. He’s had a tremendous career, and laid it out there for us, game in and game out.”

Beathard has played through injuries for much of his Iowa career, so this was nothing new. He played through a significant core injury for much of Iowa’s 12-0 regular season of 2015 and required offseason sports-hernia surgery.

So it’s no wonder the owner of a 21-7 career record as an Iowa starter wasn't willing to pull himself; he has played hurt and won before.

“I wasn’t going to do that, no. Especially in my last game,” Beathard said. “Maybe in a different game, possibly, but no, that’s not who I am. If I could stay in and play the game, I was going to do that.”

Teammates certainly weren't surprised that Beathard kept playing.

“One of the toughest guys I’ve ever been around," fellow fifth-year senior Riley McCarron said. "I think a lot of guys might’ve come out after that. C.J. didn’t even hesitate. He stayed in the whole game. He’s a tough guy ... It’s been a pleasure playing with him.”

In the end, it didn't work out for the Hawkeyes. Beathard finished with the worst passing game of his starting career: 7-for-23, 55 yards, three interceptions and three points.

“I’d go to war with these guys over anyone else in the world," Beathard said. "I love ‘em to death, and I’m going to miss ‘em. As tough as it is to lose a game like that, it’s kind of more emotional in that it’s your last game.”