Iowa Hawkeyes head coach Kirk Ferentz said his players' health is his top priority Tuesday while responding to criticism from former ESPN analyst Ed Cunningham.
Ferentz stressed his dedication to player health in a statement released through the school, via Adam Rittenberg of ESPN.com, and noted he defers to the medical staff when deciding whether someone is healthy enough to play.
The comments come after Cunningham—who was a broadcaster for Iowa's 30-3 loss to Florida in the Outback Bowl—discussed the decision to keep quarterback C.J. Beathard in the game after a hamstring injury on ESPN's Mike and Mike.
"I wanted to go get in a fistfight with the coaches over it because they abused the kid, flat-out," Cunningham said.
Ferentz also called Cunningham's comments "surprising and offensive to our coaching staff, the player and his parents," while Beathard's father defended the way his son was used at Iowa in a statement released through the school, via Rittenberg.
Rittenberg cited a source close to the Hawkeyes who revealed Beathard—who is now on the San Francisco 49ers—suffered multiple soft-tissue injuries during the contest but was cleared from a medical standpoint and wanted to continue playing in what was his last contest for the program.
As for Cunningham, he made news Wednesday when he resigned from his position as an ESPN college football analyst out of concern for the injuries and head trauma within the sport, per John Branch of the New York Times.