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The Tragedy of Dave Doeren

What if I told you the hated figure deserves your sympathy?

Boston College v North Carolina State Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

Hello Tiger faithful, I must admit that this has been a difficult week in my hate recovery. Every fiber of my being wants to say, “Dave Doeren is a puddle of putrid snail slime come to life. He is a festering pimple on the posterior of college football in desperate need of lancing.” That, however, is the old Drewtigerlum.

The old Drewtigeralum would say things like, “I would say that NC State is the South Carolina of the ACC, all mouth and no trophies, but the Wolfpack have made it clear over the last two seasons that they haven’t even reached the South Carolina rung on the college football ladder.”

No friends, that Drewtigeralum is gone. This is Drewtigerlove and I’m here to spread some love on our fine furry friends from Raleigh.

Dave Doeren

Dave Doeren is a difficult character to like. He whines, he cries, he squanders talent, and comes up with new outlandish excuses for each of his failures against Clemson. I’ve spent untold hours trying to find a single redeeming quality for Coach Doeren this week, and despite my exhaustive efforts, I’ve got nothing. I do, however, think I’ve found some insight into what makes Coach Doeren such a miserable and unlikable character, and it all goes back to his time at Northern Illinois. I understand that the following information probably won’t sway many of you, but I hope that you can at least find some sympathy for the pathetic figure walking the Wolfpack sidelines.

Consider this, Dave Doeren left a Northern Illinois team coming off of two MAC Championships for NC State. He led the the Huskies to a berth in the Orange Bowl, and then ditched for the Wolfpack before he coached the game. Just to put that in historical perspective, he left a team preparing for an Orange Bowl, for a team in a conference with a historic tie in to the Orange Bowl that has never played in one. He left a team with the potential to finish in the top 10 with a win over Florida State in the Orange Bowl for a program that has never finished in the top 10 in their 113 year history.

On the surface, leaving a successful program like Northern Illinois for a team whose last conference championship was in 1979 looks idiotic, and when you look deeper into the situation, the decision becomes even more questionable. Sure, some people might call it a “bold move,” but those are the same people that consider Robert E Lee ordering Pickett to charge up Cemetery Ridge at Gettysburg one more time a “bold move.”

There is a fine line between a “bold move” and “folly.” I can imagine Doeren looking at his once promising career the same way Lee looked at the broken remnants of Pickett’s brigade staggering down that hill in Pennsylvania and uttering the exact same words Lee spoke as he rode out to meet his defeated troops, “All this has been my fault.”

Dave Doeren has one of the most unfortunate career arcs in college football. I’ve done the research, and I can’t find a coach that has willingly moved on from a successful program to a program like NC State. Lateral moves aren’t all that uncommon in college football, but he didn’t make a lateral move, he made more of a fumbled pitch recovered 20 yards behind the line of scrimmage move when he left Northern Illinois for NC State. He made a shockingly poor decision and I feel like it is at the heart of all his histrionics at NC State. As I’ve researched his career this week, my hatred for Dave Doeren has slowly transformed into pity.

Regret is a hard pillow to lay your head upon every night.

Meeting of the Minds

Scene: Dave Doeren and Dave Clawson sitting at a booth in a Raleigh diner at lunch time.

Doeren: Thanks for meeting with me Dave. The other guys should be here shortly.

Clawson: No problem Dave. I just hope I can help out with your Clemson problem.

Doeren: I studied the film from last week, and I must say, I was impressed with your game plan. If it weren’t for some bad luck, I think you would have knocked them off.

Clawson (looking confused): Wait, which film did you watch?

A muscular man wearing a blond wig and dark glasses walks up to the table and slides in next to Dave Clawson.

Doeren: Larry, glad you could make it, what’s up with the disguise.

Fedora: They can’t fire me if they can’t find me.

Doeren: Good Point.

Clawson: Good luck, I tried that at Tennessee and they set my house on fire and waited for me to come out.

Fedora (looking nervous): North Carolina doesn’t care that much about football… Right? I mean they hired a glorified high school coach to run their program.

Doeren: Another great point.

An older gentleman in a Tennessee wind suit from the 1980s walks up to the table and slides in next to Dave Doeren.

Doeren: David, glad you could make it.

Cutcliffe: No problem, been watchin’ Mannin’ highlights all mornin’ and needed a break.

Fedora: You guys think UNC might hire a Dave to replace me?

Daves (in unison): Yes!

Waitress walks up to the table

Waitress: What can I get for you gentlemen this afternoon?

Fedora: 3 glasses of milk and 12 raw eggs. (pulls out ziplock bag of chocolate protein powder out of his jacket pocket) Could you just throw it all into a blender and dump in my powder?

Waitress: Uhm, sure.

Cutcliffe: I’ll have the Mannin’.

Waitress: Excuse me?

Cutcliffe: Sorry hun’ I meant I’ll have the Eli Mannin’.

Clawson (to the waitress): He wants the club sandwich with extra mayo.

Cutcliffe: Like I said, the Eli Mannin’.

Clawson: I’ll have the grilled cheese, but could you not grill it?

Waitress: You want two pieces of bread and a slice of cheese?

Clawson: Exactly, and could you turn down the music, I can’t think with music blaring.

Waitress: Sir, we’re not playing any music.

Clawson: Just turn it down please. Thank you.

Doeren: I’m too nervous to eat, just a glass of water for me please.

Exit Waitress

Doeren: I’ve called together the finest football minds in the area and Larry to discuss our common Clemson problem. As you know, Clemson has been the scourge of tobacco road football programs for the last decade and I intend to put a stop to it on Saturday, together we can put together a game plan to slay the Orange menace. Coach Cutcliffe, since you’re the offensive genius at the table, I’ll start with you.

Cutcliffe: Like I’ve been tellin’ Phil, you need to go out an’ get yoself a Mannin’. You get yourself a Mannin’ and it’ll work itself out.

Doeren: Coach, I don’t have a Manning. As far as I know, there aren’t any more Manning’s left.

Cutcliffe: Same problem I’ve run into at Duke. Sorry son, I’ve got nutthin for you. You can’t expect to win nothin’ without a Mannin’.

Doeren: Ok, Clawson, you just put together a Clemson game plan, you got anything for me?

Clawson: We, uh, lost 63-3, not sure I’m going to be much help.

Doeren: Right, but it was closer than the score indicated, I thought you had them there in the 1st quarter.

Clawson: Well, uhm, if you can get the ball to slip out their QB’s hand when he tries to throw it, that might help. That’s pretty much the only thing that worked against them last week.

Doeren (scribbling notes): Right, Right, good stuff, have the QB drop the ball, I wouldn’t have thought about that.

Cutcliffe: Also, uhm, maybe tackle their running back.

Doeren (smiling): Oh, don’t worry, I’ve got a special tackle planned for him (winks and points at his head). What about you Larry, you’ve played them before. Larry?

Fedora (hiding under the table): Down here Dave.

Doeren: Oh, right, so anyway, you played them in the ACC Championship game, you have any advice?

Fedora: I don’t know coach, you ever have one of those out of body experiences, because I had a season long out of body experience in 2015. I honestly can’t remember much other than a vague feeling of anger about an onsides kick. Wish I could help more. Maybe don’t leave your NFL quarterback on the bench?

Doeren: Guys, I’m not going to lie, I’m a little disappointed, I thought would have something I could use.

Cutcliffe: I told ya the same thing a tell everyone, get yoself a Mannin’. Best thing I eva done.

Clawson: I have no idea why you thought I would have anything useful.

Fedora (from under the table): Sorry coach, I have no idea how I even got this job. If you want advice on teaching 4th period social studies, I’m your man, but this coaching stuff is a little above my pay grade.

Waitress return to the table

Waitress: Gentlemen, is there anything I can get you while you wait?

Fedora (still under the table): Actually ma’am, I’ve been here too long already, if you can just put my shake into a few to go cups that would be great.

Cutcliffe: Actually ma’am, I’m in the same boat. I gotta wax Coach K’s car in a half hour and he gets mad when I’m late. Plus Clawson got muh buddy Phil fired and I’m having a hard time not choking him. I’ll take my Eli ta’ go.

Clawson (looking nervous): Yea, I’ve got to get going, I only get the coaching office for 3 hours a week and I want to get there early just in case the history professor I share the office with gets done with office hours early. If you could just wrap my bread and cheese up, I’d appreciate it.

Doeren (looking dejected): Thanks for nothing guys