NC State lands Doeren after short search
Posted December 1, 2012
Despite being perceived as a viable candidate throughout the duration of NC State's six-day coaching search, Dave Doeren wasn't the focus for many Wolfpack fans and media members.
That attention, for the most part, went to Louisiana Tech head man Sonny Dykes, the offensive guru who quickly became the person at the top of "wish lists" across the Triangle.
But given Yow's comments on Sunday about wanting an "energetic, assertive" recruiter and an "overachiever," Doeren's hire should come as a surprise to absolutely no one. At 40, the Northern Illinois head coach and former recruiting coordinator at Wisconsin and Kansas pretty much fits that mold.
Doeren led Northern Illinois to back-to-back Mid-American Conference titles in his two seasons there, capping the second Friday night with a 44-37 double overtime victory over Kent State. Depending on how other games play out this weekend, the 21st-ranked Huskies have an outside chance to crash the BCS party. In two years, Doeren's record is 23-4.
If that's not overachieving, I don't know what is.
So what does Doeren bring to Raleigh, where he'll be expected – according to Yow – to turn NC State into a perennial top-25 program?
First, he brings an understanding of the importance of recruiting, something that ended up being a major reason Tom O'Brien was let go after six seasons. Scheme matters, sure, but players matter more, and Doeren's history as a recruiter makes one assume it will be his first focus.
During his time at Wisconsin and Kansas, Doeren landed players like Montee Ball and Aqib Talib (New England Patriots), and coached guys like J.J. Watt (Houston Texans) and Matt Shaughnessy (Oakland Raiders). Yow mentioned her desire to improve in-state recruiting, so expect Doeren to start at home, but he's also spent a lot of time in Florida during his time as Northern Illinois' head coach.
As a former defensive coordinator at Wisconsin and co-defensive coordinator before that at Kansas, Doeren will bring a defense-first approach to the Wolfpack, who allowed more than 30 points five times during the 2012 season.
Northern Illinois' defense is ranked 20th nationally in 2012, allowing just 19 points a game in the points-happy MAC. In Doeren's final season at Wisconsin, the Badgers were 25th in scoring defense, allowing 20 points per game during a season that ended with a 21-19 Rose Bowl loss to TCU.
Despite his history as a defensive-minded coach, Doeren has shown an ability to be both multiple and explosive on offense in his two seasons leading Northern Illinois. The Huskies are ninth in scoring in 2012, averaging more than 40 points per game thanks to quarterback Jordan Lynch.
A year ago, Northern Illinois averaged more than 38 points per contest, good for 15th in the country.
With the skill NC State has coming back on offense (Bryan Underwood, Rashard Smith, Quintin Payton, Asa Watson and Shadrach Thornton), a wide-open offensive approach could work out just fine for the Wolfpack.
Doeren doesn't have much experience as a head coach, and some will wonder why Yow didn't get a more established name, but he's been in major college football for more than a decade and likely won't be surprised by what is expected at a BCS conference program.
As with any hire, the analysis of whether Doeren is a good one for NC State will be made in 2 to 3 years with the benefit of hindsight. He's had amazing success at Northern Illinois, but can he take a program that was consistently OK under Tom O'Brien and make it better?