N.C. State's Doeren's hopes lifted after Big 12 says it plans to play football

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- The college sports calendar is changing rapidly and any affirmation today could be walked back just as easily tomorrow. The ACC remains steadfast in its decision to play football.

The Big 12 is pushing its start date back to September 26, according to a revised schedule released Wednesday. Each team will play nine conference games and one non-conference game of choice.

"I feel good about the decision going forward," Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby said. "I believe our board feels good about it, and I think most importantly we have some clarity for our coaches and our student-athletes."

There is a big difference between clarity and certainty.

N.C. State Director of Athletics Boo Corrigan met with the football team Tuesday to address the uncertainty.

Once the schedule was released, the players thought the waffling was over, but clearly, it's not.

Wolfpack head coach Dave Doeren canceled practice and called a meeting instead.

"And I think that's the hardest thing for all these young people right now is they really struggle in the unknown," Doeren said. "Tell them they are playing or tell them they're not playing. They may not like not playing but at least they know."

The mental grind might be more difficult than the physical one right now, and football is just part of the equation.

"Think about the week we just had. The hurricane rains or whatever," Doeren said. "Then you had, we're playing football, we're not playing football. Then we have an earthquake and then we're playing football, you know. These guys are going through it."

Doeren's approach has been to take a step back and listen. If things turn for the worse, Doeren wants a plan in place to help his guys navigate more uncertainty.

"I think the biggest fear for all these guys is it's going to go back to how it was in March where all of the sudden they are on their own," he said. "Everything was 'figure it out', 'go home.' And that's not the direction any of us want. We want to play."

For now, the Wolfpack will focus on their season opener exactly a month from today.

"Today, obviously, we're feeling good about what's happened in the Big 12 as far as push in the direction of what the ACC and SEC are also trying to do," Doeren said. "But we're really just taking it one day at a time."

The Big South is taking a unique approach, postponing the fall sports season until the spring and at the same time allowing football teams to schedule up to four non-league games.

That move affects several North Carolina schools including Campbell University, UNC-Asheville, Gardner Webb and High Point.
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