Pack lands Doeren as new football coach

Dave Doeren, not yet a household name, will lead the Pack

jgiglio@newsobserver.comDecember 2, 2012 

  • Dave Doeren Age: 40 Family: Wife, Sara; sons, Jacob, Luke and Connor As head coach 23-4 in two seasons at Northern Illinois, including school-record 12 wins this season Specialty: Defense. He has coached defense throughout his career and was a defensive coordinator at Wisconsin As assistant coach Wisconsin (2006-10): Linebackers coach, co-defensive coordinator, recruiting coordinator, defensive coordinator Kansas (2002-05): Linebackers coach, recruiting coordinator, defensive co-coordinator Montana (2000-01): Secondary coach, recruiting coordinator USC (1998-99): Graduate assistant Drake (1995-97): Linebackers coach, defensive coordinator (1997) As player: Academic All-American in 1993 as senior at Drake

A lot of ACC football fans may not have heard of Dave Doeren. But N.C. State athletic director Debbie Yow knows all about him, so Doeren is on his way to Raleigh.

Yow hired Doeren on Saturday as the Wolfpack’s new football coach, grabbing a rising star who just led Northern Illinois to its second consecutive Mid-American Conference title. Doeren signed a five-year deal worth $1.8 million annually. N.C. State has a press conference scheduled for 4 p.m. Sunday to introduce the new coach, who turns 41 on Monday and will be the youngest coach in the ACC.

“I am honored and excited to join the Wolfpack,” Doeren said in a statement released by N.C. State. “N.C. State has world-class facilities and fans that are second to none. My family and I can’t wait to get to Raleigh and become Wolfpackers.”

Doeren led the Huskies to a school-record 12 wins this season and a 23-4 record in two years.

Yow wasted little time in landing Doeren. Yow dismissed former coach Tom O’Brien last Sunday and interviewed Louisiana Tech coach Sonny Dykes and Clemson assistant Chad Morris earlier in the week. Yow flew to DeKalb, Ill., on Saturday to close the deal with Doeren.

“Coach Dave Doeren is a highly motivated overachiever who shares our goals to pursue aggressively a high level of achievement in the classroom and on the field of competition,” Yow said in a statement.

While Doeren’s new deal is a $1.4 million raise for him, it’s less than N.C. State was paying O’Brien, who made just under $2 million a year.

Doeren’s contract with NIU was worth $420,000 annually at NIU and has a $750,000 buyout. N.C. State owes O’Brien $1.2 million over the next four years.

Rob Ash, who coached Doeren at Drake in the early 1990s, said fans will come to know Doeren quickly.

“Some guys have ‘it’ and Dave does,” Ash said. “He’s a relentless competitor.”

A strong recruiter

Yow wanted a strong recruiter to replace O’Brien – 40-35 in six seasons – and an aggressive coach who would have the Wolfpack in annual contention for a spot in the top 25 and in the ACC race.

The Huskies, ranked No. 19 in the AP poll, beat Kent State 44-37 in double-overtime Friday night in Detroit for their second straight MAC title, improving to 12-1.

There’s an outside chance the Huskies, No. 21 in the Bowl Championship Standings this week, can move up and qualify for a spot in the Orange Bowl. Either way, Doeren has indicated he will not coach the team in its bowl game.

Joe Novak, who turned the NIU program into a winner in the 1990s, said Yow found a keeper in Doeren.

“I think he’s a great football coach,” said Novak, who retired in 2007 and moved to Southport. “I was hoping he’d stay at Northern for another year or two, but I knew he’d have other opportunities.”

Doeren cut his teeth as a recruiter, first at Drake on Ash’s staff, then at Southern California and the University of Montana before returning to his native state of Kansas.

Doeren, who’s from the Kansas City suburb of Shawnee Mission, worked for four years at Kansas, starting in 2002. He was the linebackers’ coach and one of the top recruiters for coach Mark Mangino.

“He’s a very good recruiter,” Mangino said. “He’s bright, energetic and a tireless worker. I really think everyone in Raleigh is going to like Dave.”

‘Unprecedented’ success

Doeren left Mangino’s staff for Wisconsin in 2006 and worked five seasons for Bret Bielema. Doeren served as the recruiting coordinator and defensive coordinator at both major Division I stops before getting the top NIU job in December 2010.

Doeren played tight end at Drake, and his coaching background is with defense, but the Huskies have one of the most productive offenses in the country.

NIU runs a version of the spread offense under Doeren and ranks 12th in the country in scoring (40.5 points per game) and 16th in total offense (482.5 yards per game).

When NIU athletic director Jeff Compher hired Doeren two years ago, he had an inkling he would be going through another coaching search soon.

“What Dave has done here in two seasons has been unprecedented,” Compher said in a statement. “His record on the field speaks for itself, and the family atmosphere and culture of hard work he has fostered have led directly to our success. Under Dave and his staff, Northern Illinois has gone from being a great team to being a great program.”

With Saturday’s decision, N.C. State is hoping for the same result.

Watch a video of Coach Doeren miked-up on the sidelines during NIU's spring football game:

Giglio: 919-829-8938

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