Just yesterday, Kirk Ferentz took the absolutely necessary step of putting S&C coach Chris Doyle on administrative leave so the university could investigate claims made by more than 15 former players that Doyle was the main figure behind a problematic culture within the football program that enforced conformity with bullying and racial insensitivity. You can judge for yourself how far over the line you think Doyle crossed, but it is indisputable at this point that a large portion of the black athletes on the team felt the need to “act white” or jeopardize their football careers.
Yesterday I believed that Doyle should’ve been fired, but thought he was going to leverage his 2 decades with Ferentz enough to save his job. After he was put on leave I felt that he would be disciplined, but somehow survive this situation the way he survived the rhabdomyolysis scandal.
Then this afternoon, Doyle released the following statement on Twitter:
There is no apology. There is no admission of unknowingly causing harm or being insensitive because he didn’t know any better. There is simply a flat denial of any wrongdoing, implicitly calling the athletes who have told their stories over the last few days liars.
Kirk Ferentz made a statement to the team about George Floyd’s death on Tuesday, and ended it by saying “In our program we will use this time to listen, understand and grow as individuals and as a team. Change will begin with us.” It took Chris Doyle less than a week to show that he was uninterested in investing in that kind of personal growth.
I find it extremely hard to believe after everything that’s been said this week that Chris Doyle doesn’t understand that he’s hurt people. If we give him the benefit of the doubt, maybe we believe that he was simply trying to motivate his players and just didn’t understand the impact of his words until people started speaking out. Doyle might not think he was being racist, but whether his players thought he was being racist is no longer up for debate.
Chris Doyle might well be fired on Monday morning because he’s not strong enough to admit what he did. I fully believe he could’ve kept his head down, issued an apology, and escaped mostly unscathed. Instead he took the coward’s way out. He would rather die pointlessly on this hill than call his players and apologize for what he did. He’s not interested in personal growth because that’s hard and after 20+ years he doesn’t feel like he should have to change. Like many weak men, he’s telling the world “I don’t have to change, you just need to toughen up”. He’s been in a position of power for so long that he’s afraid of criticism, and can’t even process it on the rare occasion when he receives some.
Perhaps this is for the best. I have not changed my opinion that he needs to leave the program. The athletes who come to play football at Iowa deserve dignity and respect, not the racist power tripping of a 50 year old child. If Kirk Ferentz was sincere when he said “change begins with us” then Coach Doyle’s statement today was the last thing he ever did as a Hawkeye.