Since first impressions are often misleading, it’s understandable that some introductory coaching press conferences just as often turn out to be worth their weight in air quotes.
That said, it’s still interesting and maybe significant that new N.C. State football coach Dave Doeren on Sunday came across as an comfortable piece of common ground between the Wolfpack’s previous two picks – Chuck Amato in 2000 and Tom O’Brien in 2007.
The former Northern Illinois coach clearly is long on the sort of energy Amato brought to his alma mater from Florida State a few days after having helped the Seminoles win a national title.
At the time, Amato was a 53-year-old longtime defensive assistant whose extroverted personality created an explosion of interest in a fan base that had become bored with Mike O’Cain.
But seven years after his arrival, Amato was ousted in favor of O’Brien, a veteran head coach with a demeanor 180 degrees opposite of Amato.
Doeren seems to have some O’Brien in his philosophical makeup.
“The brand of football you’ll see will be very aggressive,” Doeren said. “We’ll coach to win.”
Those words are much the same as O‘Brien used when he left Boston College. But in neither case were the words used in a bragging, confrontational tone sometimes used by Amato.
But while O’Brien was in his late 50s when he made the jump, Doeren is almost 20 years younger and probably more in tune with the culture and temperament of the players he’ll coach and attempt to sign in recruiting.
“I’m a worker,” Doeren said. “I don’t believe in shortcuts. Shortcuts are turnovers … losses.”
Doeren said he didn’t take any shortcuts along the way in coaching – 17 years as an assistant, a guy who lined the field and drove the bus at times.
It was the portrait of a balanced hire – a blend of youth and experience, urgency and patience, defense and offense, academics and athletics.
In space exploration, there’s a phrase “Goldilocks Zone,” which is sometimes used to describe planets that are neither too hot nor too cold to possibly host life.
Maybe the Wolfpack went too hot with Amato and too chilly with O’Brien. Doeren is a move to the middle. It makes sense.