Iowa Football

Ex-Iowa strength coach Chris Doyle joins Urban Meyer's Jacksonville Jaguars staff

Doyle and Hawkeyes separated in June following racial-mistreatment allegations by players

Iowa head football coach Kirk Ferentz (left) talks with then-strength and conditioning coach Chris Doyle during a practi
Iowa head football coach Kirk Ferentz (left) talks with then-strength and conditioning coach Chris Doyle during a practice at the team’s indoor practice facility in Iowa City on Dec. 17, 2018. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

Chris Doyle, the strength and conditioning coach for 21 seasons on Kirk Ferentz’s Iowa football staff who left last year amid former Hawkeyes players’ accusations of racial mistreatment, has become the director of sport performance with the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars.

The University of Iowa reached a separation agreement with Doyle last June. According to the separation agreement reached between Doyle and Iowa, Doyle received two separate payments of $556,249.50 on Aug. 1, 2020 and January 1, 2021. He also was to get full health benefits from Iowa for 15 months.

Urban Meyer compiled an 83-9 record and won a national championship as Ohio State’s head football coach from 2012 to 2018, and won two national titles before that at Florida. He became the Jaguars’ head coach on Jan. 14.

Thursday, Meyer named 30 of his staff members, including Doyle.

“I’ve known Chris for close to 20 years,” Meyer said Thursday on a Zoom press conference.

“I’ve known him, I’ve studied him. We’ve had a relationship. I vetted him thoroughly, along with our general manager and owner, feel great about the hire, about his expertise at that position.”

Several Black former Iowa players used social media last June to cite negative experiences they had under Doyle’s supervision.

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Doyle wrote this last June 7: “There have been statements made about my behavior that are not true. I do not claim to be perfect. I have made mistakes, learned lessons and like every American citizen, can do better. At no time have I ever crossed the line of unethical behavior or bias based upon race. I do not make comments and I don’t tolerate people who do.”

Two days earlier, Ferentz said “I’ve spoken with (Doyle) about the allegations posted on social media. They’re troubling, and have created a lasting impact on those players. Therefore, Coach Doyle has been placed on administrative review immediately, while an independent review can take place. He and I agree that all parties have to have their voices heard and then a decision about how we move forward will take place.

“There’s been a call for a cultural shift in our program.”

The University of Iowa commissioned an independent review of the football program. On July 31, the report from Husch Blackwell law firm of Kansas City, Kan., confirmed complaints from Black former players that said some coaches were racially intolerant. The firm interviewed 45 then-current players and 29 former players.

From the report: “The interviews revealed that the Iowa football program has historically adhered to a philosophy (the ‘Iowa Way’) that mandates uniformity and discourages individualism. Many Black players expressed difficulty adjusting to the program’s culture as a result, explaining that they were required to conform to a ‘mold that appeared to be built around the stereotype of a clean-cut, white athlete from a Midwestern background. Numerous rules, both formal and perceived, requiring conformity around hair, clothing, jewelry, and tattoos left many Black players feeling isolated, targeted, and unwelcome in the program.”

Doyle was the only coach from last June who did not remain on the staff in the season that followed.

At the time he left the Hawkeyes program, Doyle was the highest-paid strength and conditioning coach in the nation at over $800,000 per year. He was frequently cited by Ferentz and Hawkeye players over the years for being key to the team’s successes.

In other Iowa football news, the NFL’s Los Angeles Chargers made it official Thursday that they had hired running backs coach Derrick Foster, who had held that position at Iowa for the last three seasons.

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