N.C. State is going to a bowl game, and coach Dave Doeren isn’t going anywhere.
A 28-21 win at North Carolina on Friday settled both fronts for the Wolfpack (6-6) and its fourth-year coach.
N.C. State athletic director Debbie Yow issued a statement on Saturday that Doeren’s job is secure.
“With our regular season complete, I want to put to rest any speculation surrounding the future of Coach Dave Doeren and let our student-athletes, recruits and fans know he is our coach moving forward,” Yow said in a statement released by the school.
It has been an uneven season for Doeren and N.C. State, which outplayed Atlantic Division powers Clemson and Florida State but did not come away with a win over either team.
Wins over Notre Dame and UNC offset difficult, unexpected losses to East Carolina and Boston College, as the Wolfpack qualified for a bowl for the third straight year under Doeren.
Doeren’s ACC mark, 9-23 and 3-13 at home, did bring into question his future before Friday’s upset at UNC. Senior running back Matt Dayes said Doeren has always had the support of the players.
“He should be our coach, no doubt,” Dayes said after the win in Chapel Hill.
Doeren, who turns 45 next week, has three years remaining on his contract. He makes about $2.2 million per year.
Yow hired Doeren from Northern Illinois in December 2012 to build a top 25 program. That hasn’t happened, but Doeren, who has a 24-26 overall record at N.C. State, said the program has made progress.
“We’re playing every game, but one — Louisville — for four quarters toe-to-toe with every team,” Doeren said after Friday’s win. “We haven’t won enough of them, I agree, but we are so much more competitive than we’ve ever been.”
The question after getting to six wins on Friday is what’s next for the Wolfpack?
The most likely bowl options are the Military Bowl on Dec. 27 in Annapolis, Md., the Independence Bowl on Dec. 26 in Shreveport, La. or the Quick Lane Bowl on Dec. 26 in Detroit.
At 6-6, the Wolfpack’s options are limited to what the ACC calls its “Tier II” bowl games because enough teams finished with at least eight wins.
The Military Bowl, which would have either Army or an American Athletic Conference team as the opponent, gets the first choice among teams after the ACC’s “Tier I” is sorted. It will get its choice of N.C. State, Wake Forest (6-6) or Boston College (6-6).
The Independence Bowl, which has a tie-in with the SEC as the opponent, chooses after the Military Bowl and the Quick Lane Bowl will get the third choice.
The Tier I games will be selected before the Tier II games. The Belk Bowl in Charlotte, the Pinstripe Bowl in New York, the Sun Bowl in El Paso, Texas and the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, Fla. (this year), make up the four games in the first tier.
A 6-6 team can’t be chosen over an 8-4 team for a Tier I spot, so N.C. State is locked out of one of the Tier I games by wins by Pittsburgh, Miami and Georgia Tech on Saturday.
The Tar Heels, who closed the regular season at 8-4, are most likely headed to the Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium on Dec. 28 to face a Big Ten opponent.
The Gator and Music City bowls have a deal with the ACC to each take an ACC team three times in a six-year period. The Music City has taken an ACC team (or Notre Dame), in the first two years of the agreement. The Gator Bowl, now called the TaxSlayer Bowl, is expected take an ACC team this time around.
The Belk Bowl is in line to get Virginia Tech (9-3) for the first time. The Hokies will face Clemson in the ACC title game on Dec. 3 in Orlando. This year, the ACC has two potential bowl tie-ins with Orlando — the Russell Athletic on Dec. 28 and the Citrus on Dec. 31.
In years where the ACC’s opponent in the Orange Bowl is from the Big Ten, the ACC gets the Big Ten’s slot in the Citrus Bowl. That hasn’t happened in the first two years of the agreement but is likely to happen this year, based on the College Football Playoff rankings.
The question is whether Orlando will want Virginia Tech twice in a four-week period. It might make more sense for the Orlando group to take Florida State (8-3), Miami (8-4) or Louisville for its two slots.
For N.C. State, it knows its season will go on, but now all it can do is wait.
Joe Giglio: 919-829-8938, @jwgiglio
at N.C. State
2013 season: 3-9, 0-8 ACC
2014: 8-5, 3-5; beat UCF 34-27 in Bitcoin St. Petersburg Bowl
2015: 7-6, 3-5; lost to Mississippi State 51-28 in Belk Bowl
2016: 6-6, 3-5