Doeren up for challenge of coaching NC State
DEC 02, 2012 8:01p ET
Doeren isn't just an up-and-coming college football coach. Until being introduced Sunday afternoon as North Carolina State's new leader, he was the man responsible for guiding Northern Illinois to a BCS bowl, the first ever for a Mid-American Conference program.
News spread Sunday evening after Doeren's introductory press conference at the Murphy Center, which is part of Carter-Finley Stadium, that his former team is headed to the Orange Bowl to play Atlantic Coast Conference champion Florida State.
Ironically, the team Doeren is taking over defeated those Seminoles two months ago, yet it wasn't enough to keep Tom O'Brien employed at N.C. State for a seventh season. Hence, Doeren knows the challenge before him.
NCSU athletics director Debbie Yow made it clear when her search for a new coach began a week ago she wants Wolfpack football to be in and around the Top-25 every season, and believes just because it's never been done for an extended period of time in Raleigh doesn't mean it can't happen with the right person in charge.
It didn't take Yow long to zero in on Doeren, nor did it take him much time to make the move despite interest from other schools, including in the Pac-12 and SEC, according to Yow. In fact, Doeren's so determined to tackle this new chapter he won't coach the Huskies in the Orange Bowl.
"This is my team now," he said about the Wolfpack on Sunday.
At 41, Doeren brings a plethora of experience. He played small college football at Drake and has coached at numerous stops from the smallish of small time to big-time college football. His responsibilities have varied, and he has coaching in his blood, said Doeren, whose grandfather was a basketball and track coach.
"All I can tell you is I didn't take any shortcuts to be here," the new Wolfpack coach said. "I've been coaching 17 years at the college level. I've lined the field and drove the bus. I was a GA (general assistant) twice, coached high school. I've been a I-AA non-scholarship coach and a I-AA scholarship coach, an assistant and a recruiting coordinator, a head coach at a mid-major and now I'm standing here in the ACC right now and I'm jacked up about it."
Doeren led Northern Illinois to 23 wins the last two seasons, and this season a legitimate Heisman Trophy candidate has emerged for NIU. Jordan Lynch may not win the award, but he's an example of Doeren's vision and work.
The Huskies (12-1 and ranked No. 16) scored 35 or more points 10 times this season, and in their lowest scoring affair, they fell 18-17 at Iowa. NIU, which won the MAC title a year ago as well, also held opponents to seven or fewer points in five contests.
But Doeren said Sunday he wasn't going to leave Northern Illinois for just any job. But there was something about the Carolinas that appealed to the coach, his wife and three young sons.
"Just a wonderful state," Doeren said. "Not just geographically, but the way people treated us and the way people live their lives, and we feel the spiritual values that we have, we felt like we fit in. So when the opportunity from a quality-of-life standpoint meshed with the athletic standpoint and the facilities and the drive and the want-to that N.C. State presented us it was a no-brainer."
N.C. State isn't an easy job. It has finished ranked just twice this century and it last won the ACC title in 1979. But Yow had a hunch about Doren, just like she did about current Vanderbilt coach James Franklin when she named him the coach-in-waiting at Maryland several years ago.
That never materialized, and Franklin ended up in Nashville where the 8-4 Commodores are headed to a second consecutive bowl game under his guidance and just the third in 50 years. At $1.8 million per season for five years, maybe Yow's hunch is spot on again.
"He brings to N.C. State the total package of skills and values that will be required to elevate our program to national prominence over time," she said. "He is a players' coach, willing to spend the time needed to develop trusting relationships both on and off the field of competition."
A hunch here is that Yow went young, vibrant and for a totally different approach because that's the trend in college football. Youth isn't a mandate for some programs, but forward thinking generally is.
Doeren even noted he will do whatever is necessary within the rules to appeal to recruits, even if it means doing something with the uniforms. He plays the speed game and he has a voracious appetite for recruiting. If the man drank a can of Red Bull every hour he'd seem an awful lot like North Carolina coach Larry Fedora.
The irony is that Yow mentioned Fedora a week ago when offering a partial example of a coach having an impact with a forward view and approach.
Now she has her man. And while he isn't exactly Jim Valvano or Chuck Amato-esque — former NCSU coaches who easily won over the fan base right away — Doeren has plenty of traits that will rally the Red and White, and that along with winning football games is the task he's been charged with.
Yow refuses to accept what has long been the status quo in Raleigh. This hire is another example of her walking the walk.
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