RALEIGH (WTVD) -- Thursday should be an impactful day either way for Wolfpack football. Dave Doeren will either become the latest in a now Santa's list long index of coaches to spurn Tennessee or he'll decide the money's too good in Knoxville to turn down.
That he's even a candidate or considering a move is a pretty remarkable turn of events in the first place. Tennessee's situation has become downright toxic. After its plan to hire former Rutgers head coach Schiano went public, the fan base revolted and amazingly, Tennessee backed down, cancelling the deal. Failed dalliances with a few other coaches, David Cutcliffe included, led them to Doeren.
So why is he interested? Surely, there's the lure of coaching in a gigantic, frenzied stadium that fills to the brim with over 100k orange-clad fans every home Saturday. There's the comfort of taking over a team that went 0-8 in SEC play this year, which buys him a few years of "well, look what I inherited, this is going to take time" job security. Let's be real though - the main appeal would be a raise. Tennessee is a massively profitable athletic enterprise and can shell out plenty more shells than can State.
We haven't seen specific dollar figures reported from Tennessee's side, but Doeren currently makes $2.2M base from State and I've been told their current offer is around $3M per (with incentives to go higher) along with an increased pool of money and contract years for his assistants. Tennessee would likely be presenting a deal closer to $5M guaranteed each year.
Doeren has supposedly been hard and fast on getting at least a five year extension. State has had offers of 5 and even 6 years on the table to him, but those were all with lower base salaries and a highly incentivized performance structure. He wants a raise and security after delivering 6 ACC wins to the school for the first time in 24 years.
Doeren surely feels he's building something in Raleigh. With Jimbo Fisher now likely out at Florida State, one of the giants of the Atlantic Division is on wobbly ground. Lamar Jackson is leaving. The Pack has played Clemson close, in fact, should have beaten the Tigers the last two years. Dave, like every coach everywhere, preaches family. Is his sense of family strong enough to keep him around? Losing a monster class of seniors may make it easier to turn the page.
As capitalism and college football teaches, you're worth what someone will pay you. The question then becomes, how much money is worth uprooting your family and starting over in a verified cauldron of animosity. Only a cursory search of social media will tell you that ardent Volunteer fans want nothing to do with Doeren as their coach. A poll run by a Nashville sports radio station, with thousands of votes, was going 84% AGAINST Doeren as the next man in charge.
Whatever the relative quality of football involved, there's simply no questioning the insanity you inherit when you coach in the SEC. How much money is worth trading away your peace of mind, your family's privacy? 3 million per year buys you an awfully lavish and relatively sane life in Raleigh. Would say $5M per year in Knoxville be worth stepping into the lion's den? Not for me. But I'm not the one making this decision. That's for Dave Doeren. The clock is ticking.