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December 3, 2012
When new NC State coach Dave Doeren wants something, he goes after it with everything he has. He hopes his new team will follow his lead.
Doeren went 12-1 at Northern Illinois this season and earned a No. 15 ranking, which landed the Huskies in the Orange Bowl against ironically enough Florida State, the ACC champion. Doeren won't be coaching the game, but he'll likely be glued to a TV set somewhere to watch the game Jan. 1.
Doeren was introduced to Wolfpack Nation on Sunday at the Murphy Center, and made it clear what his expectations are for the future. He wants to win, but also forge together strong relationships with his players along the way.
The Shawnee Mission, Kan., native kept an even keel and shared his vision for Wolfpack football in the future. He talked about how he expected to be a doctor one day while being a student at Drake, and took his Medial College Admission Test, but decided to forego medicine for becoming a coach after helping out his old school in a 7-on-7 passing league one summer.
"I did that, and when I left and went home and said, 'I'm not going to be a doctor. I'm going to be a coach. That is the funnest three hours I've ever had in my life,'" Doeren said. "From that point on, that was it. It was in my blood for sure."
Doeren half-joked that he upset his mother, but that didn't last long.
"My mom loved me and she is proud of me," Doeren said. "She knew I would do good things."
Doeren worked his way up through the coaching ranks, coaching at Drake, USC, Montana, Kansas, and Wisconsin, before replacing Jerry Kill at Northern Illinois after Kill left for the Minnesota job. Doeren went 23-4 at NIU and won back-to-back MAC titles. He quickly became NC State's No. 1 choice following the firing of coach Tom O'Brien on Nov. 25, and was hired six days later, despite getting heavy interest from Auburn, California and Colorado.
"He brings to NC State the total package of skills and values that will be required to elevate our program to national prominence over time," NC State athletic director Debbie Yow said. "First and foremost, he is a players coach. He's willing to spend the time needed to develop trusting relationships both on and off the field of competition."
NC State is 7-5 and set to play Vanderbilt in the Music City Bowl in Nashville, Tenn., on Dec. 31. The Wolfpack aren't in dire straits like some of the openings across the country, but will need to find some new playmakers next year. Doeren has a plan and it involves hard work on a consistent basis."
"Shortcuts are turnovers," Doeren said. "Shortcuts are losses. If we want to be the champions in this conference, and I know we do, and if we want to be a consistent top 25 program, then we are going to have to be tireless workers.
"Championships are earned. There is no if and or buts about it. This school has been in 25 bowl games, going on 26, and I know the goal is to be in those bowls in January."
Doeren, who had vacationed a few times in North Carolina over the years due to his love of fishing, was immediately drawn to the opening. He had watched the Wolfpack on television over the years, and was part of the Kansas staff that lost 56-26 to NCSU in the Tangerine Bowl in 2003.
"This job is a destination job for me and I had a great job at my last school, and I wasn't going to leave it for a place that I didn't think was special, and I felt that way about NC State," Doeren said.
Doeren coached the linebackers for four years at Kansas (2002-2005), with the Jayhawks going 19-29 during that span under former coach Mark Mangino. Doeren made the move to Wisconsin, where he was linebackers coach and recruiting coordinator his first year, co-defensive coordinator his second and then defensive coordinator his final three years before getting hired at Northern Illinois in 2011. The Badgers went 49-16 during his five years in Madison while working for Bret Bielema.
Doeren took something away from both of his former bosses - Mangino and Bielema. Believing in a plan was the lasting memory from working at Kansas.
"Coach Mangino really stuck to his vision," Doeren said. "We had some tough years building a program there and he never got derailed from what he thought was the right way of doing things. I thought he had a great way with taking on tough things that happened because we had a lot of them."
Kansas went 2-10 in 2002 before becoming bowl eligible in finishing 6-7 the year the Jayhawks played the Wolfpack.
"That first year, we were the worst team in the country I think," Doeren said. "Just being able to stick with your plan and not second guess yourself and know that you know the right way of doing things. To be able to stand in front of the team and continue that vision, and five years later, win the  Orange Bowl with it. Just his ability to overcome adversity is impressive to me."
Bielema kept promoting Doeren through his stint with the Badgers.
"Coach B was very organized and really listened to his players, and was good with his assistant coaches and made time for them and helped develop them," Doeren said. "People would work their butts off for him."
Doeren was able to watch the Wolfpack practice prior to his press conference. He had a simple message to the players.
"We just talked about me, and I told them, 'They didn't pick me, I picked them,'" Doeren said. "I understand that I didn't recruit the players in the room, but I told them all that I was here for them now and my goal was to help them. I'd do everything in my power to make them better players and guide them through their path, and through their adversities. I asked them to give me their best because I would give mine."
Doeren plans to finish off watching NC State's games this season - he did watch the 17-16 upset victory over Florida State - and will continue to view bowl practices to find out what position groups could use a recruiting boost. He believes the returning NCSU players will get a clean slate and expects some to thrive because of it.
"I do know there are some kids that sometimes just don't get along with the coach they had, and they got more in them," Doeren said. "You might be able to bring it out of them. I don't want kids to think, 'Hey, this guy is not giving me a chance.' Every job I've taken, there has been or two guys that people come up to me and say, 'Man, that guy was a you know what and now look at them.' I take a lot of pride in that, giving a guy a chance to make that out of himself."
Doeren might be giving the players a clean slate, but admitted the leash will be short and that the ship is going in one direction, and it's time to jump on.
Doeren can actively recruit until the quiet period begins Dec. 16-Jan. 3. His first order of business with his coaching staff is to hire a pair of coordinators. He already has a good idea of who the candidates will be.
"I call it a two-deep and it's by position of guys I respect in the business, and some of them are currently on my staff and will come with me at some point," Doeren said. "I want to get my coordinators in place first because that is the most important part. Then we can built from there.
"I've never been a guy that believes in rushing, so I'd rather be slow and right then quick and wrong for sure. I'll try to take my time. It's very important to me because the guys that will touch our players every day can't be the wrong people. It's a process that turns into a family, so I'll do it the right way."
Doeren won't be a play-caller from the sidelines, but does want to learn the game plans from his future coordinators.
"I'm not a play caller but I am a suggester," Doeren said. "During the game, I'll be looking for plays off of plays, and things that I think will work based on how they are defending us or how we are attacking them. Then I can suggest, 'Hey don't forget about this play because they are doing such and such, and you thought that would be good.'"
Doeren will continue with his 4-3 defensive scheme, but will keep an open mind about the offense.
"There are some things I would like to do schematically, but we might have to get recruits to do them," Doeren said.
The next few weeks will help set the tone and everything will be in full swing with an eye toward the home opener against Louisiana Tech next fall. The 41-year-old Doeren has had quite a journey in his coaching career, but he's ready for the next chapter.
"I've been a I-AA non-scholarship coach and a I-AA scholarship coach," Doeren said. "I've been an assistant coach, a co-coordinator, a recruiting coordinator, a head coach at a mid-major, and now I'm standing here in the ACC, and I'm jacked up about it."
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