Urban Meyer Says Jaguars 'Did a Very Good Job Vetting' Chris Doyle Hire

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistFebruary 11, 2021

Former Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer watches during the second half of the Big Ten championship NCAA college football game between Ohio State and Wisconsin, Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
Michael Conroy/Associated Press

New Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Urban Meyer insisted on Thursday that he very thoroughly vetted the hiring of Chris Doyle, the team's new director of sports performance, despite a number of former Iowa football players saying over the past year that Doyle used racist language and treated Black players differently while he was the strength coach at the school.

Meyer told reporters:

"I vet everyone on our staff and, like I said, the relationship goes back close to 20 years and a lot of hard questions asked, a lot of vetting involved with all our staff. We did a very good job vetting that one.

"... I met with our staff and I'm going to be very transparent with all the players like I am with everything. I'll listen closely and learn and also there's going to have to be some trust in their head coach that we're going to give them the very best of the best, and time will tell. ... The allegations that took place, I will say [to the players] I vetted him. I know the person for close to 20 years and I can assure them there will be nothing of any sort in the Jaguar facility."

Per ESPN's Michael DiRocco, Meyer said he's known Doyle since they worked together at Utah. But the two never actually intersected with the Utes, with Meyer there in 2003-04 as the head coach but Doyle just there for one year in 1998.

A number of former Iowa football players spoke out against the treatment of Black players in June, with a few specifically mentioning Doyle:

Emmanuel Rugamba @BooRadd_

@jamsdans https://t.co/Wn25Td7gpz

Terrance Pryor @Tpryor51

@jamsdans Time for the truth: https://t.co/aBeVbtfvc4

Jaleel Johnson @leellxvii

@jamsdans Coach Doyle would go around stepping players fingers as they would warm up before a lift.

Brandon L.Simon @Brandon_Simon_

@jamsdans https://t.co/MBB97t54yQ

Defensive back Greg Mabin, now with the Jaguars, tweeted at the time: "We appreciate the opportunities the Iowa program brought us, but I do hope bringing these issues to light can stimulate positive change."

Tennessee Titans defensive back Amani Hooker added: "I remember whenever walking into the facility it would be difficult for Black players to walk around the facility and be themselves. As if the way you grew up was the wrong way or wasn't acceptable and that you would be judged by that and it would impact playing time."

Jemele Hill @jemelehill

Also keep in mind that per @ByKimberleyA, the NFL has FOUR black head strength coaches. Imagine how black candidates who have been trying to move up feel seeing Urban Meyer hire someone who was paid over $1M by Iowa to go away after allegations of racism.

As for Meyer's past judgement, the head coach was placed on administrative leave in 2018 while at the helm of Ohio State after denying that he knew his former assistant, Zach Smith, had been the subject of a domestic violence investigation. However, Smith's ex-wife, Courtney Smith, said she confided in Meyer's wife Shelley, telling her about Zach Smith's behavior in both 2009 and 2015 and provided photos and text messages to back up her allegations. 

Meyer stepped down following the 2018 season. 

His track record at Florida also reflected questionable judgement. As ESPN's Andrea Adelson wrote in 2018:

"During Meyer's six-year tenure at Florida, some 31 players were arrested, with at least 10 accused of crimes ranging from misdemeanor battery to felony domestic assault to felony theft to domestic battery. Punishment varied depending on the player, but let's just say it was uneven at best. In perhaps the best example that illustrates that, star running back Chris Rainey was suspended only four games in 2010 after he was charged with aggravated stalking for allegedly texting his girlfriend, 'Time to die, b---h.'"

That Meyer would start his first tenure as an NFL head coach by hiring a staff member who has been accused of racism in the past is perplexing, to say the least.