Dave Doeren talked at length on Monday about N.C. State’s annual military appreciation day.
The Wolfpack coach said it was one of his favorite games of the year because his father, Bill, served in the Air Force, and his father-in-law, Stan VanderWoude, served in the Army during the Vietnam War.
What Doeren did not talk about on Monday was how he would react to protests by NFL players during the national anthem. The controversy started last year with Colin Kaepernick and was more widespread across the league on Sunday after remarks by President Donald Trump.
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“I’m not in the NFL, so I don’t have to deal with that,” Doeren said.
College football teams have been able to stay out of the anthem spotlight since the players are in the locker room while the anthem is played. There was an issue last year with band members at East Carolina and N.C. State taking a knee, in protest, during the anthem, but it has not involved players.
Doeren explained Monday his family connections to the military make the Wolfpack’s annual appreciation game, which is Saturday against Syracuse, special for him.
“Your parents all talked about Vietnam when I grew up,” Doeren said. “My dad served, my father-in-law served twice. …
“We get to play football and we get to make decisions and pick professions, we get to vote for who we want and we get to say things that we want to say because we live in a place where people fight for us. We get to actually play football for them on Saturday. That’s a big deal. I think it’s really cool that we get to do that.”
N.C. State will honor all four branches of the military on Saturday before and throughout the game. A U.S. flag, the size of the field, will be unveiled at halftime.
“It’s a special atmosphere having all of (the military branches) be a part of it with us,” Doeren said. “I thank them and look forward to playing for them this week.”