Which College Football Teams Are Settling for Mediocrity?

min read
Andrew Doughty Jul 24, 2021, 10:41 AM
Head coach Dave Doeren of the North Carolina State Wolfpack watches his team play against the North Carolina Tar Heels during their game at Kenan Stadium on October 24, 2020 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. The Tar Heels won 48-21. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

Dave Doeren left Northern Illinois for North Carolina State in December 2012 because he believed the Wolfpack were “very close to getting to the next step,” he said at his introductory press conference. While Doeren didn’t explicitly say what the next step was, he did mention becoming a “consistent top-25” college football program with tireless work.

NC State didn’t make an appearance in the AP top 25 until 2017, Doeren’s fifth season, but has been ranked in three of the last four years with 11 total appearances over that time. In the eight years before Doeren’s arrival, they had three total top 25 appearances, all in the same year (2010) under then-fourth-year head coach Tom O’Brien. 

O’Brien was fired two years later, as athletics director Debbie Yow cited a disagreement in how they would become a consistent top-25 program. Yow retired in 2019, but her successor Boo Corrigan has expressed similar expectations for annual national relevance. And Doeren’s top-25 appearances, and three seasons of at least eight wins since 2017, are meeting expectations for a program that sits inside the top 25 for national championship odds in college football betting.

Doeren agreed to a new contract this week, first reported by Cory Smith of Pack Pride, which includes a two-year extension (through 2025) and raises his salary from $3.25 million to $3.5 million. With the extension, Doerens’ third since 2015, NC State is saying they’re satisfied with a .600 winning percentage over the last four years, tied for 44th nationally.

On the field, they’re satisfied with mid-level bowl games, second- and third-tier relevance in the ACC, and a big win every few years. Off the field, they’re satisfied with NCAA compliance, strong academic records, and, since a flirtation with Tennessee in 2017, Doeren’s long-term commitment to the program. 

“If I can make it through year 10, a couple years from now, there’s not many coaches that can say they’ve coached at one school for 10 years in a row,” Doeren said in March. “That would be quite an accomplishment.” 

This week on High Motor by BetMGM, we discussed whether NC State’s acceptance of seven-, eight-, and nine-win seasons is smart and if similar acceptance of the status quo across other programs is good or bad for college football.

Listen below (or on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and everywhere podcasts are available):

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Andrew Doughty is a writer for BetMGM and host of High Motor by BetMGM, an NFL and college football podcast available on Apple Podcasts and everywhere else. He has written for Sports Illustrated, HERO Sports, Bleacher Report, and SB Nation. Follow him on Twitter: @DoughtyBetMGM

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Andrew Doughty

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Andrew Doughty is a writer for BetMGM and host of High Motor by BetMGM, an NFL and college football podcast available on Apple Podcasts and everywhere else.

Andrew Doughty is a writer for BetMGM and host of High Motor by BetMGM, an NFL and college football podcast available on Apple Podcasts and everywhere else.