Preview 2017: How Do You Get Off A Hot Seat? Ask NC State
NC State might have been dealing with a regime change right now, but Dave Doeren showed how you stop that from happening.
How To Get Off A Flaming Hot Seat.
Step One: Beat Your Arch-Rival To Become Bowl Eligible
Alumni and fans like bowl games – or, at least the idea of going bowling. It’s an extra football game, it’s a spotlight moment, and it’s affirmation that your season wasn’t a total disaster. Alumni and fans also like beating the opposing school they hate the most.
So when you combine the two things, that makes everyone happy.
NC State head coach Dave Doeren was in the midst of a 5-6 season, had lost five of his last six games, and had to go to North Carolina to avoid a losing campaign. One 28-21 win later, and it was off to the Independence Bowl.
Step Two: Win That Bowl Game And Look Awesome Doing It
Bowl games might be glorified exhibitions, but they also provide a final snapshot of a season. Win big, and bad memories of a rough regular season tend to fade away.
When you have a great-looking team coming back, a blowout win – like, say, beating an SEC school 41-17 in a bowl, even if that SEC school is Vanderbilt – gives fans a glimpse of what might be possible.
Step Three: Keep Job
Doeren has gone an unremarkable 25-26 in his first four seasons, but he’s been able to survive by coming up with three straight winning campaigns with two bowl victories. But now he’s had his chance to build up the NC State program and get his players in place to do what he wants. This is his team now, and fortunately for him, it looks like it could be really, really good.
Be shocked if this isn’t the best NC State team since going 9-4 in 2010.
It starts with a defensive front that should be a killer. Amazing against the run last season, and outstanding at getting behind the line, get ready for an even better season thanks to the return of Bradley Chubb for his final season. The rest of the line is loaded, too, with bulk and depth inside, and more pass rushers to help out Chubb on the outside.
The secondary needs to be better, but with a great linebacking corps to go along with that front four, all the pieces are in place to crank out one of the ACC’s most dominant Ds.
The offense has the pieces in place to be far stronger than the inconsistent group that didn’t show enough pop.
Ryan Finley has the experience and talent to standout, even in a good conference of quarterbacks. The O line gets back four starters, almost all of the key receivers are back, and the running game has enough options and weapons to make up for the loss of Matt Dayes.
So what’s the problem? The kicking and punting games have to be far, far stronger, but if that’s fixed, look out. This could and should be the ACC Coastal wild-card as long as the team plays up to its experience and talent.
And now Doeren is on a different sort of hot seat – but in a different and good way. He’s supposed to win now not just because he’s been around for a while, but because he’s got an awesome team.