On the day she announced the firing of football coach Tom O’Brien, N.C. State athletic director Debbie Yow made it known what she wanted in a new coach.
“I have a great deal of respect for people who are aggressive, assertive recruiters, because I believe in this day and age it’s required,” Yow said last Sunday.
By all accounts, Dave Doeren is aggressive and assertive. He has been the past two years as head coach at Northern Illinois, winning consecutive MAC championships. How effective the Wolfpack’s new coach will be once out of his comfort zone in recruiting – that is, the Midwest – remains to be seen.
“It was obvious Debbie Yow wanted a young, energetic guy who will be quick to hit the road recruiting,” Mike Farrell, the national recruiting analyst for Rivals.com, said Saturday. “Dave Doeren will do that.
“This may not be considered a sexy hire. But Doeren was considered the next good BCS coach. It will be important to see who he has on his staff and how quickly they can build relationships (with high-school coaches).”
Farrell said Maryland coach Randy Edsall got off to a slow start in recruiting after leaving Connecticut after the 2010 season. But Edsall was able to hire Mike Locksley, a former Maryland assistant coach and established ACC recruiter who returned to College Park last year after being fired as head coach at New Mexico.
“Everything changed. You need that one marquee guy like Locksley,” Farrell said.
Ryan Nielsen, Doeren’s co-defensive coordinator, was an assistant for three years at Mississippi in the SEC. Quarterbacks coach Bob Cole once was at Western Kentucky and Florida A&M.
But most of the coaches on the Northern Illinois staff are more like offensive coordinator Mike Dunbar, who was head coach at Northern Iowa and an assistant at Minnesota and Northwestern.
Doeren, 40, has been a defensive coach but served as recruiting coordinator at Kansas (2002-2005) and later for three years at Wisconsin before getting his first head coaching job at Northern Illinois.
At Kansas, which was in a rebuilding mode, the recruiting classes improved from 78th in the Scout.com ratings in 2002 to 56th two years later. The Jayhawks had one three-star recruit in 2002, then two four-star recruits and eight three-star recruits the next year.
Kansas was 12-1 in 2007, winning the Orange Bowl. Doeren was at Wisconsin by then but former Jayhawks coach Mark Mangino said Doeren deserved a big part of the credit.
“He was on ground floor with us, trying to get the program up on its feet,” Mangino said. “He recruited some really good players for us, and he left before we had some of our best years, but he helped us get there.”
Wisconsin’s 2008 class was ranked 26th by Scout.com with just one four-star recruit, defensive lineman Tyler Westphal.
“At Wisconsin, they never had a top-25 recruiting class, but Wisconsin recruits to the system, with those big linemen, big backs,” Farrell said. “But they did well there. Fans always want the five-star and four-star guys, but Wisconsin did a good job turning three-star recruits into four-star players.”
Northern Illinois’ recruiting class for next season is ranked 92nd by Scout.com and has two three-star recruits, wide receivers Mycial Allen and Blake Holder. The 2012 class, led by three-star linebacker Mike Cotton, was 105th.
Jordan Lynch, the Huskies’ star quarterback, was recruited by former NIU head coach Jerry Kill.
Yow last week said she wanted a head coach who would be as active in recruiting as his assistants – on the go, in the homes.
“There is a model that used to work with head coaches becoming involved late in the process to ‘close the deal,’ ” she said. “That’s no longer the case.”
Mangino said he expected Doeren to be able to attract and sign the players needed to be successful at N.C. State.
“If you can recruit, you can recruit anywhere,” Mangino said. “Dave will be able to adapt and develop relationships with the high schools in the state. He’s a really good recruiter.”