RALEIGH — When Dave Doeren walked out of his first press conference at N.C. State on Sunday, he learned his former team was headed to a major bowl.
Without a hint of regret, Doeren, who led Northern Illinois to a 12-1 record and spot in the Bowl Championship Series this season, said he took the N.C. State job for a reason.
I had a great job, Doeren said. I wasnt going to leave for a place that wasnt special and I felt that way about N.C. State.
In a black suit with a red tie and clear blue eyes, Doeren was unpretentious with his comments on Sunday.
Doeren, who turns 41 today and is the youngest coach in the ACC, talked about his love of fly-fishing and his family. His wife, Sara, and three sons were in the crowd at the Murphy Center for his press conference. Coach D, as he referred to himself once, promised an aggressive style of football with a holistic approach to recruiting.
Doeren (pronounced DOOR-in) talked about his resume, which included early stops at Drake, his alma mater, and Montana. Then he talked about the major steps he took as an assistant and recruiting coordinator at Kansas and Wisconsin. It all led to his first head coaching job at Northern Illinois.
I didnt take any shortcuts to get here, Doeren said. Now, Im standing here in the ACC and Im jacked up about it.
N.C. State athletic director Debbie Yow smiled when she introduced Doeren and beamed when she described his energy and his work ethic.
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, Yow said.
Yow has set the bar high for Doeren and the program. Former coach Tom OBrien went 40-35 in six seasons, led the Wolfpack to four bowls in five seasons and had five wins in six years over North Carolina.
Yow, who completed the coaching search in less than a week, believes N.C. State is capable of more. Yow has said N.C. State should be an annual contender for a spot in the top 25 and the ACC title.
Doeren, who agreed to a five-year contract worth $1.8 annually, will get an automatic two-year extension if State finishes in the AP top 25 or USA Today top 25 in either of his first two seasons. Doeren made $420,000 at Northern Illinois this season. OBrien made almost $2 million annually and is still owed a total of $1.2 million over the next four years.
N.C. State has finished in the top 25 just three times since 1994 and hasnt won an ACC title since 1979, but its a challenge Doeren is anxious to accept.
If we want to be the champions in this conference, which I know we do, and if we want to be a consistent top 25 program, then we are going to have be tireless workers, Doeren said.
Doeren said he had hoped to hire some of his assistants from Northern Illinois for his new staff at N.C. State. In a notable moment, in contrast to the press conference last year for UNC coach Larry Fedora, Doeren talked about the process of putting together his staff and said: Ive never been a guy that believed in rushing. Id rather be slow and right than quick and wrong.
N.C. State, which finished the regular season 7-5, had its first bowl practice on Sunday and Doeren met with his new players before practice.
I told them, they didnt pick me, I picked them, Doeren said. I asked them to give me their best, because theyll get mine.
Thats what Northern Illinois got from Doeren. He led NIU to a No. 16 ranking in the AP poll this season. He was 23-4 in two seasons with the Huskies and won two Mid-American Conference titles.
The last three days have been a whirlwind for Doeren. On Friday, Northern Illinois beat Kent State, 44-37 in double-overtime to win the MAC title. The next day, he met with Yow and a small N.C. State contingency in DeKalb, Ill.
By Saturday night, he agreed to become the Wolfpacks 34th head coach and on Sunday he was in Raleigh.
Back in DeKalb, the Huskies learned on Sunday that they will face ACC champion Florida State in the Orange Bowl on Jan. 1. Doeren wont coach NIU in the BCS bowl, a rare accomplishment for a MAC team. Instead, his focus is on taking his new team to the elite level.
This is my team now, Doeren said.