I've been looking at quite a few candidates for 2015 HC the past few weeks as it had become increasingly clear the Hoke is not the answer; something I think the masses have finally agreed upon after Saturday. I will post a few profiles this week in diaries on what I have found on candidates outside the normal cabal regurgitated over and over. These profiles are at a 'superficial' level and how many I post are depending on time - it is one thing to read up on someone but another to distill the information back out in a cogent form. Some candidates I have done a ton of work on - some I have done less on. All are current head coaches as I don't belive we can take a chance on someone who does not have HC experience at the NCAA level unless their name is John Harbaugh.
Normal caveats apply:
- I am not an AD nor do I have a full time staff to focus on one of of the most important decisions over the next decade. These are superficial reports based on raw data. If I were an AD I'd be doing a lot of on the ground work on each of these people's backgrounds starting from their playing days on forward to every coaching stop.
- Past results do not guarantee a damn thing. But that is all we can go on.
- These are not necessarily my top candidates (read: Jim Harbaugh) but people we could get and are interesting and not "Sumlin, Shaw, Gundy redux"
- I believe an elite level coach gets results within 2-3 years, by results I don't mean 11-2 but improving a bad program or maintaining a good program
- W/L record is not the be all and end all - what Gary Barnett did for Northwestern is more impressive than what a lot of coaches have done at USC or Bama or Texas over the years. Spurrier went and won at Duke for example early in his career. Or just see John Beilein.
- Adjust everything for conference, level of competition, and ability to get recruits
- I don't care about systems - a good coach will coach up players. It's about the Jimmy and Joes not the X's and O's.
First up.... Dave Doeren, age: 42
Summary: Doeren is currently coach of NC State which ironically is in the news this week for giving FSU a major upset scare. That has nothing to do with my analysis of him which was actually done last week but made me more bullish obviously. This analysis is probably 1-1.5 years too early as I'd be more interested in Doeren after seeing what he does this year and in 2015 with the Wolfpack as they are a rebuild situation right now. That said since I did some homework on him I will toss him out here and watch him the rest of this year and if he has a good year and a good 2015 I believe he will be one of the hottest candidates out there at THAT point. He is the opposite side of Chryst who a few people have mentioned as a candidate who is now the HC of Pitt; he was the OC for a while in Big Bert's system in Wisconsin - while Doeren was the DC for some of those years.
Recent (10 years) coaching background
- 2005: Kansas co-DC, LB coach, recruiting coordinator. As a 33 year old
- 2006-2007: Same roles as 2005 but at Wisconsin, as a 34-35 year old
- 2008-2010: DC at Wisconsin in his mid to later 30s
- 2011-2012: HC at Northern Illinois
- 2013-2014: HC at NC State
Analysis: A lot of responsibility at a very young age in Big 5 conferences both as a DC and now as a HC. HC at a non Big 5 conf by age of 40. Tons of experience in the Big 10 footprint. Aside from coaching experience was also a recruiting coordinator for 6 years.
Caveat for results ----> (a) nothing exists in a vacuum (b) as a coordinator you can benefit or be penalized if your HC is good or bad or average (c) injuries or graduation can change your results dramatically in any 1 year. This is the type of stuff you'd research as an AD staff on every potential candidate.
I will break down his results at 3 time frames - DC at Wisconsin, HC at Northern Illinois and HC at NC State.
(1) DC at Wisconsin
These were some great years for the Badgers. He co-coordinated for Big Bert's first 2 years at Wisconsin, then was sole DC in years 3-5. These teams were 7-6, 10-3, 11-2. Being Big 10 brothers we know how Wisconsin is - a stout if not overly athletic defense.
Total defense ranking
- 2008: 37
- 2009: 17
- 2010: 20
Please adjust that ranking for the fact it was facing Big 10 offenses. I penalize any Big 10 defense about 8-10 spots in ranking due to facing a lot of bad QBs and not good offenses - meanwhile I'd do the opposite for a Pac 12/Big 12 defense which faces an array off air raid type offenses. So these were nationally good but not great defenses. However Wisconsin usually recruits in the late 20s to early 40s in terms of rank so they are not working with OSU/ND/UM type athletes by and large.
(2) HC at Northern Illinois
Whomever the AD is at Northern Illinois is someone I'd trust a lot more than David Brandon to pick a coach. Doeren came in after Jerry Kill and staff moved on to Minnesota. Kill had a very good 2010 team (11-3 W/L). What I like to see in this situation is a David Shaw taking over for John Harbaugh situation - a coach who can maintain status quo without a major dropoff. Doeren did that. Below are Jerry Kill's last season in terms of W/L, total offense and total defense compared to Doeren's 2011 and 2012.
The defense fell off in 2011 but came back in 2012, while the offense maintained excellence.
2011's 3 losses were 45-42 to Kansas, 49-7 to Wisconsin, and 48-41 to CMU. CMU and UK were bad teams. All 3 of these losses happened in Doeren's first 5 games. It was ironic (my version of ironic) in that Doeren had the 2 teams he cut his teeth on (Kansas, Wisconsin) on his schedule. N, Ill won the MAC at 7-1.
2012 was a magical year where NIU went from "MAC good" to "damn good" - they were ranked and went up against Florida State in a bowl game. They did lose 31-10 but cmon, its NIU! Their only losses that year were FSU and Iowa 18-17 to open the season. Caveat - they did have the services of one Jordan Lynch, he if 3K yards in the air and nearly 2K on the ground (breaking Denard Robinson's single season record) - an incredible season. On the other hand it is not like he was inherited; 2012 was his FIRST year starting. Lynch went on to have another ridiculous year in 2013.
(3) HC at North Carolina State
Coming off a magical 2012 Doeren did what most good coaches do - struck when the iron is hot. I dont know why people get upset about this - Urban Meyer left Utah and Bowling Green after 2 seasons each. Saban left Toledo after 1 year to go to the NFL. So unlike some folks on MGoBlog I dont blame coaches for hopping around until they get to an elite program. If Doeren suceeds at NC State I expect him not to last more than 3 years there. /off of soapbox
After a 7-5 campaign, Tom O'Brian was fired after 6 seasons at NC State. Reasons cited (per wikipedia)
AD Debbie Yow cited several reasons. She was concerned over lagging season-ticket sales, as well as his approach to recruiting. O'Brien's recruiting classes were frequently in the bottom half of the nation, and Yow wanted a coach who could bring top 25-type talent to Raleigh.
Considering recruiting success (or lack thereof) O'Brian did halfway decent at NC State with a lot of just over .500 type of teams. But it looks like they wanted more.
Doeren came in and had a pretty rotten season with NC State at 3-9 down from 7-5. So at that point you are definitely in a wait and see situation. Not being a NC State expert I don't know if there were injuries or a bad transition or what not. The team did lose as expected to Clemson, FSU, and Duke (which was actually good last year). Those are ok. But losses also piled up at Wake Forest, Syracuse, North Carolina etc.
Here are one of the few 'summary reviews' I can find on the season:
Doeren's debut was a bit of train wreck, as the record suggests. Three wins, one against Richmond. Nine losses, including all eight against ACC competition. But to say the Wolfpack were entirely overmatched would be incorrect. Of those eight ACC games, only two were out of hand in the second half – Florida State, of course, and Maryland. The rest? N.C. State was either ahead or behind by no more than eight points at some point during the second half against its remaining six league foes; the Wolfpack were either tied or ahead of Duke and Syracuse in the fourth quarter. What this says is simple: one, depth was terrible, and two, the depth was really terrible. Yeah, Doeren's reputation lost some luster, but don't throw all the blame on his plate.
Moving ahead to 2014, until the FSU game things were unremarkable because the opponents were unremarkable. The Wolfpack already have more wins in their first 4 weeks than they did all last year - but it was the baby seal variety. Of course the 56-41 loss to FSU might go down as an excellent loss especially for the first real game in year 2 of a regime. NC State faces another tough game with Clemson next week, then returns to more normal fare like BC, Louisville, Wake Forest, Georgia Tech. Assuming 2 losses out of the gate to FSU and Clemson a 4-2 or 3-3 versus other 6 in conf challengers would be "not bad" for NC State. Especially in light of their recruiting which really lags.
Fun fact - Darian Roseboro was at the NC State - FSU game.
So right now it is wait and see on Doeren- this is an interesting and potentially exciting candidate who probably will determine his long term path in the next 3 to 27 months. If he has a rousing 2014 ACC season he might immediately be seen as both a guy who can continue success at NIU and then do a major turnaround quickly at NC State. Same if it happens in 2015. If there is a lack of success by 2016 he could be "just a guy". But one to keep an eye on as his age, experience, Big 10 country footprint, pedigree, and relative success.
Relative to Michigan it is not a guy who I see as a guy in the mix unless he goes something like 6-2 or 5-3 in the ACC. If he does that combined with a competitive Clemson loss next week and the big scare to FSU it would be a massive 1 year turnaround with a coach that could already be on the hot list of some darn good programs. A 3-5, or 4-4 ACC season would still be a positive, and a 2015 season that is more like 6-2 and an overall 9-3 type of record for NCS would probably push him into the pantheon of "hottest young coaching candidates" nationally. And someone who could be the face of a top end program for 20 years at his age. Of course, he could also bust in the next 2 years.