’Unacceptable’: Group says Jaguars hiring of Chris Doyle is in poor taste

New coach was accused of mistreatment of players, racism in previous job at Iowa

Strength and conditioning coach Chris Doyle of the Iowa Hawkeyes during a game. Doyle was hired by the Jaguars on Thursday. (Photo by Matthew Holst/Getty Images) (Matthew Holst, 2013 Matthew Holst)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The fallout from the Jaguars hiring of controversial strength and conditioning coach Chris Doyle continues.

One day after Urban Meyer’s hire of the former Iowa coach who was accused of mistreating players while employed by the Hawkeyes, the Fritz Pollard Alliance ripped the move as “unacceptable.”

The Fritz Pollard Alliance is an organization made up of various NFL personnel that seeks to ensure equal opportunity in the football industry. It had previously commended the hiring practice that owner Shad Khan used during the coaching search after firing Doug Marrone.

The addition of Doyle drew a sharp rebuke.

“At a time when the NFL has failed to solve its problem with racial hiring practices, it is simply unacceptable to welcome Chris Doyle into the ranks of NFL coaches,” said Rod Graves, the executive director of the Fritz Pollard Alliance.

“Doyle’s departure from the University of Iowa reflected a tenure riddled with poor judgment and mistreatment of Black players. His conduct should be as disqualifying for the NFL as it was for University of Iowa. Urban Meyer’s statement, ‘I’ve known Chris for close to 20 years,’ reflects the good ol’ boy network that is precisely the reason there is such a disparity in employment opportunities for Black coaches.”

Doyle was hired Thursday as the team’s director of sports performance, a move that Meyer said that he and others in the organization thoroughly vetted.

“I vet everyone on our staff and like I said, the relationship goes back close to 20 years.,” Meyer said. “[There were] a lot of hard questions asked, a lot of vetting involved with all our staff, but we did a very good job vetting that one.”

Meyer has had well-documented issues during his coaching career, be it lax oversight of players that came to the forefront during his time at Florida, to not being forthcoming about staff issues at Ohio State. The latter scenario involving former Buckeyes assistant Zach Smith wound up getting Meyer a three-game suspension in 2018. Smith was accused of domestic violence in both 2009 and 2015 by his then-wife, Courtney, and Meyer, Ohio State’s Board of Trustees found, was insufficient in how he dealt with reporting that.

Smith worked on Meyer’s staffs and both Florida and Ohio State.

Doyle, who worked at Iowa from 1999 until last June, was accused by a large number of former Hawkeyes players, both Black and white, of racial bias and mistreatment. Numerous coaches in the Iowa program were mentioned as having a role in that, but Doyle was the only one removed from the school. Doyle received a $1.1 million separation agreement from Iowa on June 15, 2020.

Iowa commissioned a deep dive into the allegations and hired the Husch Blackwell firm to provide a report on the football culture within the program. The complete 28-page report can be found here.

Several former players said in the report that Doyle wasn’t the only one to blame within the program, but he was the one singled out the most.

Doyle, along with Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz, are among the defendants in a lawsuit filed by 13 former Iowa players, all of whom are Black. The allege that they were the recipients of “targeted discriminatory behavior.” Former Iowa defensive back Diauntae Morrow told ESPN last year of a particular instance of mistreatment by Doyle in 2009, saying that Black players often felt “alienated.”

About the Author:

Justin Barney joined News4Jax in February 2019, but he’s been covering sports on the First Coast for more than 20 years.