Alone in first place in the Atlantic Division, ranked No. 14 in the country and off to N.C. State’s best start in 15 years, Dave Doeren was ready to bet on himself.
After three losses in five games, that bet hasn’t paid off yet for Doeren, and it might even lead him to a different job.
Contract negotiations between Doeren and N.C. State athletic director Debbie Yow are at a standstill, according to a source with knowledge of the situation.
Doeren’s preference, according to a second source, is to remain at N.C. State, where he has a 33-30 overall record. The length of the contract, and the value of Doeren’s deal, are the sticking points in the contract.
Doeren, 45, is seeking a five-year deal that puts him in the middle of the ACC’s salary structure. His current deal, worth about $2.2 million annually, ranks 10th out of 12 ACC schools (according the USA Today salary database) and has three years remaining.
Doeren and Yow met on Sunday, a day after the Wolfpack beat North Carolina and finished the regular season with an 8-4 record – the best of Doeren’s five seasons in Raleigh. Those talks broke down without a deal.
Doeren, according to a source, engaged in preliminary talks with Oregon State and Mississippi but did not get far in negotiations.
Tennessee, turned down by Oklahoma State’s Mike Gundy on Tuesday, remains a potential suitor, but according to a source, there have not been any significant talks between Doeren and the SEC school.
The source said a USA Today report on Wednesday that Doeren “was close” to becoming Ole Miss’ coach before the Rebels beat Mississippi State in the regular-season finale and removed the interim tag from Matt Luke’s title was incorrect.
Both Yow and Doeren declined to comment on Wednesday.
Saturday’s Wolfpack win triggered a $50,000 bonus, $100,000 raise and one-year automatic extension in Doeren’s contract (which now runs through the 2020 season).
Yow had said on Saturday, after the UNC win, that negotiations were “moving along nicely” but talks haven’t been moving in the right direction since Yow had announced in October that a new deal was imminent.
At 6-1 and a game ahead of Clemson in the loss column in the Atlantic Division standings, Doeren didn’t believe the initial offer was a substantial enough or long enough.
He didn’t sign the deal, according to a source, instead preferring to let the season play out and perhaps improve his bargaining position.
The Wolfpack did finish with a 6-2 ACC record, its best conference mark since 1994, but last-minute losses to Clemson (38-31) and Wake Forest (30-24) kept State from playing for the ACC title and from turning in a bigger season.
Yow hired Doeren from Northern Illinois after the 2012 season to turn the Wolfpack into a “top-25 program.” N.C. State is ranked No. 24 in this week’s College Football Playoff rankings.
Doeren has led N.C. State to a bowl game in each of the past four years but has a 15-25 record in ACC play.
Doeren was close to losing his job during the 2016 season, which has also caused some resentment between the 45-year-old coach and his boss.
N.C. State was 5-6 going into the regular-season finale last year at UNC. A loss in that game and Yow would have likely replaced Doeren.
N.C. State won that game 28-21 in Chapel Hill and then beat Vanderbilt in the bowl game to finish 7-6.
“I’m glad we were able to finish the way we did so the administration would allow us to continue our work,” Doeren told ESPN earlier this month.
With or without Doeren, N.C. State is in for a transition season in 2018. The Wolfpack will lose 20 seniors off of this team, and there is the potential for quarterback Ryan Finley to go pro.
Doeren was on the road recruiting Tuesday. Kicker Chris Dunn, one of Doeren’s most important recruits, posted a picture of Doeren and assistant coach Aaron Henry at Dunn’s Lexington home on Twitter on Tuesday.
“Thanks to @StateCoachD and @AaronHenry7 for the home visit tonight!” Dunn wrote. “Continuing to thank God for the chance to play at NC State and for this staff!”
Doeren was in Raleigh on Wednesday recruiting at three local high schools.
Joe Giglio: 919-829-8938, @jwgiglio