(ASSOCIATED PRESS) - Jacksonville Jaguars coach Urban Meyer defended the hiring of a former Iowa assistant accused of racism, saying Thursday he “vetted him thoroughly along with our general manager and owner.”
Iowa agreed to pay strength coach Chris Doyle $1.1 million in a resignation agreement last June after more than a dozen former players said he bullied and discriminated against them. Doyle denied the allegations. An investigation by an outside law firm later found that the program’s rules “perpetuated racial and culture biases and diminished the value of cultural diversity,” and allowed coaches to demean players without consequence.
A lawyer for 13 Black ex-Iowa football players has filed a lawsuit alleging his clients suffered racial discrimination under longtime coach Kirk Ferentz. Doyle is among the defendants.
Meyer officially hired Doyle as Jacksonville's director of sports performance — part of his 30-person staff — and said he will assist the strength and conditioning and athletic training programs. Doyle served as Iowa's strength and conditioning coordinator for more than two decades (1999-2019).
“I feel great about the hire, about his expertise at that position,” Meyer said. "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.”
Meyer added that owner Shad Khan was involved with all of the “high-end hires,” including Doyle. Meyer said he's confident the addition won't be an issue with current player or potential free agents.
“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,” Meyer said.
Meyer spent nearly a month working to surround himself with assistants who can help him make a successful transition from college to the NFL.
The group includes Darrell Bevell as offensive coordinator, Joe Cullen as defensive coordinator, Brian Schottenheimer as passing game coordinator/quarterbacks coach, and Brian Schneider as special teams coordinator. Meyer made most of the hires weeks ago, but waited to announce them until after each one signed.
Meyer also made former Louisville, Texas and South Florida coach Charlie Strong his assistant head coach/inside linebackers coach. Strong was one of three key hires who had no previous NFL experience, along with tight ends coach Tyler Bowen and safeties coach Chris Ash. Strong spent the better part of the last four decades in the college ranks.
Meyer kept seven holdovers from fired coach Doug Marrone’s staff, including veteran offensive line coach George Warhop, cornerbacks coach Tim Walton, nickel cornerbacks coach Joe Danna and assistant linebackers coach Tony Gilbert.
The rest of Meyer’s coaching crew: receivers coach Sanjay Lal; running backs coach Bernie Parmalee; defensive line coach Tosh Lupoi; outside linebackers coach Zach Orr; and senior defensive assistant Bob Sutton. Anthony Schlegel will serve as Meyer’s strength and conditioning coordinator.
Other new assistants: Will Harriger (offense); Sterling Lucas (defensive line); Chris Polk (special teams); Quinton Ganther (offensive quality control); Patrick Reilly (defensive quality control); Todd Washington (offensive line); Brandon Ireland (strength); and Adam Potts (strength).
Fernando Lovo will serve as Meyer's chief of staff.
Meyer insisted when he took the job in mid-January that he would build a “great staff” with plenty of NFL experience, and his main four coordinators have a combined 67 years of pro experience.
Bevell has been coaching in the NFL since 2000 and coordinated offenses in 14 of the past 15 years. He enjoyed his most success in Seattle with quarterback Russell Wilson. He spent the last two seasons in Detroit with Matthew Stafford.
Cullen spent 14 of the last 15 years as an NFL D-line coach, including a three-year stint in Jacksonville (2010-12) and the last five in Baltimore.
Schottenheimer has 21 years of NFL experience, including the last three as Seattle’s offensive coordinator. Seahawks coach Pete Carroll fired him in January following the team’s wild-card loss to the Los Angeles Rams. Despite some late-season struggles, Seattle set a franchise record for points scored (459) in 2020.
Schneider had been in Seattle since 2010, but he left the team indefinitely last season for personal reasons.
Doyle, though, drew most of the attention Thursday.
“Keeping players healthy at their maximum performance is a high, high priority,” Meyer said. "My mind has really changed over the year about the priority of that, and Ohio State, we became, you know I’m very biased, but we became the best in college football. Now our job is to make sure we become the best in professional football.”