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Urban Meyer is in the middle of another controversial hire, this time in the NFL.
The new Jaguars coach announced his staff on Thursday and it included Chris Doyle as the director of sport performance. Doyle last served as the head strength and conditioning coach at Iowa until 2020, when he reached a separation agreement with the school following allegations of racist comments and bullying.
“I’ve known Chris for close to 20 years,” Meyer said in a press conference Thursday. “Our relationship goes back to when I was at Utah and he was the No. 1 strength coach. Really, he was doing sports performance before sports performance became a high priority in college sports. So I’ve known him, I’ve studied him, we’ve had a relationship. I vetted him thoroughly, along with our general manager [Trent Baalke] and owner [Shahid Khan].
“I feel great about the hire, about his expertise at that position. So we vetted him thoroughly.”
Some former black players at Iowa accused Doyle of telling them he was going to “send them back to the ghetto” if they did not meet his standards, according to USA Today, among other alleged remarks. Iowa hired a law firm to conduct an external review of the program, which concluded that “a small group of coaches” demeaned players and “the program’s rules perpetuated racial or cultural biases and diminished the value of cultural diversity.”
Doyle defended himself last June in a statement, which included, “I do not make racists (sic) comments and I don’t tolerate people that do.”
Meyer insisted Thursday that the Jaguars “did a very good job vetting that one.”
The 56-year-old Meyer also said he was “very confident” there would not be issues with Doyle, 52, and did not think his presence would impact the Jaguars’ ability to attract free agents.
“If I was, I wouldn’t have hired him,” Meyer said. “I’ll explain that, if that becomes a question. The one thing I’m very confident [in] is that I would imagine within a year or two, we’ll have the best sports performance team in the National Football League.”
In his final year at Ohio State, Meyer was suspended for three games after an investigation found that he mishandled domestic assault allegations that were made against his former assistant coach, Zach Smith. Meyer had originally said he was unaware of any domestic issues involving Smith and his ex-wife while he was at Ohio State, but later claimed he misspoke and that he had in fact gone through the proper protocol to report a 2015 incident when he learned of the accusations.
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