The Wolfpacker

January 2013

The Wolfpacker: An Independent Magazine Covering NC State Sports

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■ pack perspective New Coach Dave Doeren Could Be A Great Hire For The Wolfpack By Tim Peeler f all the things Dave Doeren said in his introductory press conference Dec.  2 — and he hit all the pertinent topics of recruiting, academics and overall optimism — one comment stood out as perhaps the most important. "This is a destination job for me," Doeren said. "I had a great job at a great school. I wasn't going to leave it for a place that wasn't special. I felt that way about NC State." In a postseason that included head coaching changes at Auburn, Tennessee, Arkansas, Kentucky, Purdue and Wisconsin, Doeren was signed to a five-year contract worth $1.8 million per year with lightning haste by NC State athletics director Debbie Yow. Yow had identified Doeren long ago and made him her top target, even while interviewing three other candidates before him. She saw in him, however, something different than in the others and was ready to hire him immediately after he guided Northern Illinois to its second consecutive Mid-American Conference championship. "He brings to NC State the total package of skills and values that will be required to elevate our program to national prominence over time," Yow said. "What I really liked about him is that he is very smart. He was an Academic All-American. He is a bright coach." Granted, Doeren doesn't have an insider's knowledge of the inner-workings and traditions of NC State, the way Bo Rein, Chuck Amato and Mike O'Cain all had when they took their turns leading the program. Rein earned his during a couple of years as an offensive coordinator under Lou Holtz. Amato had a strong understanding of all Wolfpack traditions, from 1967's "White Shoes Defense," for which he started as a senior linebacker, to the veer offense both Holtz and Rein used with success during the 1970s. And O'Cain, though he wasn't the top pick to succeed Dick Sheridan, was familiar with how things worked in Raleigh when Sheridan stepped aside six weeks before the start of the 1993 season. For a while, each of them used that knowledge to put successful Pack teams on the field. Rein, however, was the only one successful enough to move on to a bigger school, though he tragically never got to coach LSU after accepting the job there just months after leading NC State to its most recent ACC football championship in 1979. Doeren doesn't even have the same outsider's perspective of Tom O'Brien, the veteran O assistant at Virginia and head coach of ACC foe Boston College, who was relieved of his duties the weekend after Thanksgiving following six seasons of leading the Wolfpack to lukewarm results. Historically, though, Doeren fits a good profile of a young coach who was successful at a smaller school before coming to NC State. In fact, three of his predecessors have relevant parallels to Doeren's career path, and two of them happen to be among the most successful coaches in NC State history. Doeren fits the profile of a young coach who was successful at a smaller school before coming to NC State, just like former Wolfpack head coaches Lou Holtz and Dick Sheridan. photo by ken martin The first was Lou Holtz, the diminutive dynamo who came from Division I-AA William & Mary and built the first of his many Division I juggernauts. Holtz guided the Wolfpack to four consecutive bowl games, the 1973 ACC championship and the highest end-of-season ranking in school history. He also created a level of expectation for football that Earle Edwards had dreamed of when he left his offensive coordinator job at Michigan State to become NC State's head coach in 1954. Edwards, the most successful coach in NC  State history, won five ACC titles and took his team to two bowl games during an era of limited postseason possibilities. But most of his entire 16-season career at NC  State — as successful as it was on the field — was devoted more to getting Carter Stadium built than sustained national prominence in college football. The second was Sheridan, who also stepped up from a Division I-AA school to produce a seven-year era of success before stepping down, ostensibly because of a health issue. Sheridan had been successful at tiny Furman, where he led the Paladins to six Southern Conference championships and an appearance in the 1985 I-AA championship game. Sheridan, without question, is the Wolfpack's most successful coach since the Holtz/ Rein era. In seven seasons, he won 52 games and took the Wolfpack to six bowl games. He never won an ACC title, but was second three times, and the Wolfpack finished in the top half of the conference standings in six of his seven years in Raleigh. Sheridan, Rein and Holtz are the only three coaches since World War I to win more than 60 percent of their games at NC State. The only coach from a smaller school who came to NC State and wasn't successful was Tom Reed, who posted three consecutive 3‑8 seasons with the Wolfpack after five successful seasons at Miami (Ohio). But don't be too quick to make comparisons between Doeren and Reed, just because they both coached at Mid-American Conference schools before arriving in Raleigh. Reed compiled a 34-19-2 record during his five seasons in Oxford, Ohio, but never won a MAC title. He was known primarily because of upset wins over North Carolina and Kentucky and for the fact that he came from the school nicknamed "The Cradle of Coaches" for producing such legendary college football leaders as Woody Hayes, Ara Parseghian, Bo Schembechler, Dick Crum and Jim Tressel, among others. Doeren, on the other hand, won MAC titles in each of his two seasons with Northern Illinois, both times winning the league championship game at Detroit's Ford Field. Though he played at Drake, where he was also an Academic All-American, he developed his coaching chops in stints at Montana, Kansas and Wisconsin before he took over the Huskies in 2011. The 41-year-old Doeren believes he's ready to follow in the footsteps of Holtz and Sheridan, who both made successful transitions to BCS-level positions after their smallschool training. "All I can tell you is that I didn't take any shortcuts to get here," Doeren said in his opening press conference. "I've been coaching 17 years on the college level. I've lined the field and driven the bus. I've been a graduate assistant twice [at Drake and at Southern Cal] and a high school coach. I was a Division I-AA non-scholarship coach, a I-AA scholarship assistant coach, a co-coordinator, a recruiting coordinator, a head coach at a mid-major college and now the head coach at NC State. "I'm jacked up about being a part of this program." ■ You may contact Tim Peeler at 78  ■  the wolfpacker 78.Pack Perspective.indd 78 12/11/12 2:28 PM

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