"I didn't take any shortcuts to get here. I've been coaching 17 years at the college level and I've lined the fields and driven the bus. I was a GA twice. I've coached high school. I've been a I-AA non-scholarship coach. I've been a I-AA scholarship coach. I've been an assistant coach. I've been 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."
Dave Doeren, Dec. 2, 2012
When Dave Doeren was first introduced as head football coach to Wolfpack Nation at a press conference on Dec. 2, 2012, his opening statement concisely told the story of who he is and what he stands for - providing an accurate snapshot of Dave Doeren the football coach and Dave Doeren the man. In those few short sentences, he displayed the attributes that made him NC State's first choice when it came time to find the 34th coach in program history: his experience, his work ethic and his passion.
A Variety of Experiences
As he stated on that December afternoon, the 41-year-old Doeren has packed a lifetime's worth of coaching experience into just 19 years. He comes to NC State after leading the program at Northern Illinois to its most successful two years in program history. His first Husky squad won the school's first Mid-American Conference Championship since 1983 and tied the school record with 11 wins. His second version repeated as league champions and set a new school record by posting 12 victories for the season and earning a trip to the Orange Bowl - the first BCS berth ever for a MAC school. Doeren was a finalist for several national coach of the year awards following the 2012 campaign.
Under Doeren's leadership, NIU boasted the nation's longest conference winning streak with 17 straight victories over MAC opponents. The Huskies never lost a home game during his tenure in DeKalb, winning a dozen home contests in the past two seasons to extend the nation's longest home winning streak to 21 games.
During his two years at NIU, eight players earned all-conference accolades, and one of his quarterbacks won the MAC's Vern Smith Leadership Award - given to the league's MVP - each season. The Huskies' Academic Progress Rate (APR) ranked among the top five nationally as well.
Northern Illinois was the only school in the nation to have a player win the National Football Foundation Scholar-Athlete Award in both 2011 and 2012. Additionally, Northern Illinois joined Duke, Penn State and Nebraska as one of only four schools in the country to place four players on the 2012 Capital One Academic All-District Team for its region.
The Shawnee Mission, Kansas, native posted a 23-4 overall record with a 17-1 mark against MAC opponents during his time at NIU. His prolific offense scored 40 points or more 16 times in 27 games. In 2012 alone, the program averaged 40.8 points per game during the regular season and ranked in the Top 15 nationally in fourth down conversions (2nd), rushing offense (9th), scoring offense (10th), 3rd down conversions (15th), and total offense (15th).
Prior to his stint in DeKalb, Doeren spent five seasons in the Big Ten at Wisconsin, where he served as defensive coordinator and linebackers coach. During Doeren's time in Madison, the Badgers posted a 49-15 overall mark and played in the Champs Sports Bowl twice, the Outback Bowl, the Capital One Bowl and the Rose Bowl.
For his first two seasons in Madison, he served as co-defensive coordinator/recruiting coordinator/linebackers coach and in 2008, was named the primary defensive coordinator. His UW defenses were consistently ranked in the top 25 in NCAA defensive categories. In 2010, Wisconsin ranked 20th in total defense and in the top 30 in both rushing and scoring defense. In 2009, the Badgers led the Big Ten and ranked fifth in the country in rushing defense, holding each of their last 10 opponents to less than 100 yards rushing - the longest streak in school history. Wisconsin led the nation in pass efficiency defense in 2006 and was the No. 2 scoring defense in the country.
His pupils at Wisconsin included National Football League linebackers Jonathan Casillas of the New Orleans Saints and DeAndre Levy, the Detroit Lions' middle linebacker. Badgers' linebacker Chris Borland earned 2009 Big Ten Defensive Freshman of the Year honors.
Doeren arrived at Wisconsin after four seasons (2002-05) at the University of Kansas, where he served as linebackers coach and recruiting coordinator for three seasons before being promoted to co-defensive coordinator under head coach Mark Mangino. The Jayhawks led the Big 12 and ranked No. 3 nationally in rushing defense and No. 11 nationally in total defense in 2005.
During Doeren's time at Kansas, the Jayhawks ended a seven-year bowl drought, earning bids to the 2003 Tangerine Bowl and the 2005 Ft. Worth Bowl. The opponent in that first bowl appearance was a Philip Rivers-led NC State team. At his introductory press conference at NC State, Doeren recalled how the passion of the Wolfpack fan base made an impression on him then that he never forgot, 10 years before he was named the Pack's head coach.
He coached Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year Nick Reid, who was also a third-team All-American, and four of his players won academic all-conference honors.
In 2000 and 2001, Doeren coached the secondary at NCAA Division I-AA (now Football Championship Subdivision) powerhouse Montana, also serving as the Grizzlies' recruiting coordinator for one year. Montana advanced to the the I-AA national championship game in 2000, losing by two points, but returned to win the national title the following season. The Grizzlies posted a 28-3 record and won two Big Sky Conference championships in his two years with the program and he coached five All-Americans, four All-Big Sky performers and two league defensive MVPs.
"Lined the Fields and Driven the Bus"
Doeren grew up right outside of Kansas City, where he was a big fan of the Royals' George Brett and the Chiefs' Dino Hackett. He also grew up watching his grandfather, Thomas Glennon, coach high school basketball and track. He loved the respect his grandfather commanded from his players, even after he retired from coaching.
When he left for college at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, his goals were to play football, earn a pre-med degree, go to med school and become an orthopedic doctor. He accomplished the first two.
He lettered at tight end for the Bulldogs, catching 19 catches for 237 yards for his career. He majored in pre-medical biology, earning Academic All-America honors as a senior. He took the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT). His plans for the future changed, however, during the summer between his junior and senior years when his former coach at Bishop Miege High School asked him to lead seven-on-seven drills. "It was the most fun three hours of my life," he remembered. "I knew from that moment I was going to be a coach. I didn't know how long it would take, but I knew it was what I wanted to do."
Doeren has pursued that goal with a relentlessness that has never wavered. Instead of heading to med school, he landed his first coaching job in 1994, right there in Kansas at Shawnee Mission High School.
His collegiate coaching career began just a year later, when he was named an assistant coach at Drake, leading the linebackers from 1995-97 before adding defensive coordinator chores in 1997. He had one of his players earn All-Pioneer League honors two of his three years on his alma mater's staff.
Doeren got his first taste of a bowl experience as a defensive graduate assistant at the University of Southern California when the Trojans played in the 1998 Sun Bowl. The Trojans led the nation in interceptions that year with 24, while the 1999 squad led the nation in turnover margin. Doeren earned a Master's degree in educational leadership from USC.
"I'm fired up about it."
Anyone who watched Northern Illinois' double-overtime victory over Kent State in the 2012 MAC Championship game on Nov. 30, 2012, saw a head coach on the Husky sideline who was all in. On Friday night, he led his squad to that 44-37 victory, celebrated with his team as it received the league championship trophy and then boarded a bus for the all-night ride back from Detroit to DeKalb.
Just a couple of hours later, Wolfpack Director of Athletics Debbie Yow was waiting to talk to him about becoming the Wolfpack's next head coach. By Sunday afternoon, he was decked out in Wolfpack gear, with all of his attention turned to his new squad as he watched the team's first bowl practice in Raleigh and began to access recruiting needs.
"It was a crazy 48 hours for us," he recalled. "We were in a double-overtime game and then woke up with a great opportunity."
While his former team was celebrating its unprecedented bid to the Orange Bowl, Doeren was standing in front of the NC State media, talking about why he had no regrets.
"I had a great job," Doeren, the youngest football coach in the ACC, said. "I wasn't going to leave for a place that wasn't special and I felt that way about NC State."
In his first few weeks as the leader of the Pack, Doeren recruited and hired a staff, audited several practices, called every prospect who had already committed to State and met with his returning players. His new staff was relentless on the recruiting trail, bringing in a class that fit the program's needs under his new system.
When Doeren met with his new team on the day he was introduced to the NC State community, he told them, "You didn't pick me, I picked you. I love what I do and I'm all in."
He also told his new charges to expect to see his other great passion around the program frequently: his family. Doeren met his wife Sara while he was coaching at Drake and she was a nursing student. The couple has three sons: Jacob (14), Luke (12) and Connor (7).