NC State Insider: the benchmarks that will keep Dave Doeren off the hot seat

There is little doubt that this a critical season in the Dave Doeren tenure at NC State. He is entering his fifth-year at the helm in Raleigh.

NC State has generally given its coaches some time to lay down a program. The last four coaches all got at least six seasons, and three of them (Dick Sheridan, Mike O’Cain and Chuck Amato) coached seven years. Sheridan left on his own accord.

O’Cain was fired after seven seasons, but it is worth noting that he received seven years despite only have one season in which he won more than seven games. He went 9-3 in year two, finishing with a No. 17 ranking in the Associated Press poll in 1994. The following two years the Pack fell to back-to-back 3-8 campaigns, and O’Cain would reach only one bowl game in his final three seasons.

Amato built one of the best teams in school history, the 2002 squad that rose to No. 10 nationally after a 8-0 start and finished with a school-record 11 wins that was capped by trouncing Notre Dame 28-6 in the Gator Bowl. But when quarterback Philip Rivers left for the NFL, the product on the field suffered.

The Pack had two losing years out of the next three, and the one in between was a 6-5 regular season that needed two straight wins in the final two weeks to earn a bowl bid, which proved to be an uninspiring 14-0 win over South Florida in the Meineke Car Care Bowl.

O’Brien’s firing had more to do with philosophical differences with athletics director Debbie Yow, especially over the direction of the program as recruiting lagged. O’Brien had three straight winning seasons to end his tenure, going 26-14 overall and 13-11 in the ACC before being let go prior to the Music City Bowl (which NCSU lost to Vanderbilt, 38-24), but recruiting results did not paint a pretty future.

Doeren is in a better place entering year five than O’Cain, who had just had his two year stretch of a 6-16 overall mark, and arguably than O’Brien. In his fourth season, O’Brien broke through with a 9-4 team that came close to playing for an ACC title, but that was also O’Brien’s first winning record in Raleigh. Doeren has led the Pack to three straight bowl games and winning records. Amato was still basking in the glow of the Rivers’ era when he came into year five.

What will it take for Doeren to stick around at least as long as O’Brien and perhaps O’Cain and Amato (if not longer)? It’s a tricky question to answer…

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