NC State’s Dave Doeren drew some headlines when he complained about Clemson having access to fancy facilities he lacks. Dabo Swinney responded at ACC Media Day, pointing out “buildings don’t win championships”. This isn’t the first time Doeren has externalized blame after a loss to Clemson (In Doeren’s defense look at his Twitter account, he may have had no idea about Clemson’s social media, he may not know his password).
While facilities have yet to take the field for a single snap there hasn’t been a team to win a national championship without palatial facilities in recent memory. Clemson’s slide gets a lot of press coverage, but barely scratches the surface of what’s in there. Look at Alabama’s facilities, look at Ohio State’s facilities. Oregon’s rise was facilitated by some good coaching hires and being the first to really invest in recruiting via uniforms, but also by Phil Knight pumping an absurd amount of money into facilities investments. NC State does not, and will likely never, match up with these schools. In an environment in which players cannot be enticed monetarily the money is spent on things programs think a high school recruit might like.
Turnover in college football is constant; a coach lasting five years is an oddity. Making two good hires in a row is much more rare than we would care to admit. No matter whichidiot is in charge you can always sell the weight room. Not only does this sort of off-the-field stuff help calibrate a program’s ceiling; in many cases it sets the floor. In a world where recruiting ratings are increasingly predictive of on the field success, your ability to sell your team to incoming high schoolers is where programs live and die. While many good coaches and programs do overachieve, relying on this is difficult to sustain, and ultimately coaches in these positions are typically recognized for their talent and plucked by a richer school.
So why is Doeren stating the obvious? It seems likely he’s serving two ends at once. One, while at NC State, he would like to see increased investment in facilities; it can only make his life easier. Two, announcing his discontent in Raleigh could put him on the radar for jobs higher up the totem pole. Much bigger schools than NC State have to deal with this, it helped drive Jimbo out of FSU. While he has rankled Clemson fans in recent years it must be admitted Doeren has built NC State into a respectable program. Doeren won the MAC twice at NIU and took the team to (though he did not coach in) the Orange Bowl. He’s made four straight bowls at NC State and may have taken the program as far as it’s going to go; they are on par with their historical ceiling. Someone in his position has options, and could be a candidate for a top end power conference job should one open up. Still, like most media day quotes, this should all fade into the background with the return of fall camp.