IOWA CITY, Ia. - No way, no how would Kirk Ferentz knowingly put any of his players in danger. The notion is preposterous.
The Iowa Coach and his staff do have some control over limiting the chance of injury in certain situations. If late in a lopsided contest, you can rest regulars. It's a judgment call among many tough ones that he has to make.
Ferentz was faced with this decision a few weeks ago against Michigan State. The Hawkeyes led 37-6 a few seconds into the fourth quarter when No. 1 running back Adam Robinson was nailed by linebacker Eric Gordon. Iowa guard Josh Koeppel recovered a fumble on the play.
Robinson suffered a concussion and sat out last weekend's game at Indiana. Ferentz said on Tuesday that he expected Robinson to practice full speed this week and be ready for Northwestern this Saturday.
The question that popped up often last week was whether or not Robinson should have been in the game against the Spartans when he got hurt. I read it on our message boards, I received emails about it and messages on Facebook and Twitter. Jon Miller at Hawkeye Nation wrote about it.
Was the game out of reach fort Michigan State? Plenty of people felt that way.
In fairness to Ferentz, his team played a game at Michigan a few weeks earlier where the Wolverines mounted a fierce comeback that just fell short. That had to have been fresh in his mind.
Still, as I said on radio shows and in response to fan inquiries last week, I felt like it was a legitimate second-guess of the coach. People were justified in having that opinion. You have a big lead. If it starts to slip, then put Robinson back in. I understand that line of reasoning.
I did not say those opinions were right. There wasn't a right decision. It was a judgment call.
Coach Ferentz was asked about it publicly for the first time on Tuesday. He clearly was comfortable with his decision and uncomfortable with the line of questioning.
"I read something last week," he said. "You can question a lot of things. The fourth quarter had just started. We had a lot of starters in on both sides of the ball. I wouldn't change it. We're trying to win the football game."
Ferentz and his staff decide when to removed starters by feel. There's no manual.
"Go back and look at the film," a clearly defensive Ferentz said. "Whenever we put the twos in, that's when we decided. You go by what's going on out on the field. There's no book. Maybe there is. I haven't bought it."
Ferentz then joked that he was going to buy a book that he found on clock management, referring to being second-guessed at the end of a 31-30 loss to Wisconsin on Oct. 23.
"Maybe I should have 10 years ago," the coach said. "I am open to suggestions. There's no book on that stuff (removing starters). You do what you do."
Ferentz said that the second-guessing doesn't bother him unless there's an inference that he wasn't looking out for the health of a player.
"He playing football," Ferentz said. "He practices. He plays football. You can get a concussion any time. It's ridiculous. Anybody can get a concussion any time playing football.
"If I've got to start worrying about all that stuff, we'll be afraid to come out of the building. That's what it comes down to.
"If I would have known he was going to get a concussion, hell yeah I would have taken him out. I would have taken him out the play before it if I knew."
Robinson ranks third in the Big Ten in rushing yards with 806 and 10 touchdowns. True freshman Marcus Coker stepped in for him against Indiana and ran for 129 yards on 22 carries.
Ferentz utilized Coker against Michigan State after building a 30-0 lead at halftime. The coach said on Tuesday that the freshman was getting hit hard by the Spartans. They could have been why Robinson was still getting action in the fourth.