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Coach Doeren…Shuddup. Please.

October 15, 2014

As someone with a propensity of not knowing when to shut up until it’s too late, I feel qualified to offer this advice to coach Dave Doeren: Shut up. Please.

Doeren’s post game press conferences in recent weeks have held as much, if not more, entertainment value than the football team’s performance itself. “Entertainment,” of course, if you get off on watching a guy stick his foot in his mouth repeatedly.

The latest batch of postgame presser stumbles came after the BC loss. It started off promising enough:

“We’re going to do it the right way,” Doeren said. “We are. We’re not going to cut corners. I’m going to keep my head up. I’m going to keep working my butt off. I’m going to stay positive with our football team. We have a lot of games in front of us. It’s frustrating to lose three in a row. I know I haven’t won an ACC game. I hear it way more than anybody, trust me. I want to get the monkey off my back. It takes time.”

Ok, I feel you. Oh, there’s more?

“It’s a challenge, every day, building this program,” Doeren said. “It’s going to take time. We all want microwaved results, me included. I know our fans do. I get it. Two years in a row I haven’t had an ACC player on the preseason list. Two years. It’s going to take me time.”

Uh oh. Ok. Bail out Dave. That red button? It’s the eject button. Hit it. Hit it. Just reach out and press it. Oh Jesus, you’re still talking…

“At Kansas, we had a bunch of freshmen playing on defense and four years later that defense was No. 1 in the nation. It takes time to build it. I just didn’t inherit a cabinet stocked with redshirt seniors. I didn’t get that.


mikeyI’m reminded of that scene in Swingers where Mikey, feeling his oats a bit back at his apartment after getting Nikki’s phone number at the bar, decides to give her a call. He leaves her a message. Then another. Then another. Then yet another. By the end of it, Nikki–who’s heard this all transpire–can finally take no more and flatly tells him to never call again.

During Doeren’s pressers, it feels like he’s dying a death of a thousand verbal cuts of the self inflicted kind. Usually they’re coming at the end of his otherwise solid answers. He just can’t seem to help himself but to reveal that one little nagging nugget of angst that’s hellbent on driving the post game presser train headlong into a wall.

Prior to the BC loss we already knew Doeren was not shy about letting his emotions drive his comments after a game. He openly mentioned Old Dominion players in his estimation taking dives at the end of the game to slow down State’s offense. He said as much again after the FSU loss, which drew an appropriately snarky response from Jimbo Fisher and a canned, forced apology from Doeren days later.

Then come these comments after the BC game, blaming his 0-11 ACC start on the previous coaching staff’s poor recruiting efforts and the lack of talented players on his roster.

I get a coach wanting to be candid, to not feel the need to squelch, sugarcoat or pull punches. Believe me, I like candid. But “candid” in this setting shouldn’t mean just spouting off what’s on your mind without regard to consequence. You still have to measure your words carefully even when trying to speak as though you’re not measuring your words.

But if you’re going to insist on going the shoot-from-the-hip route, be sure you’re at least right in those assessments.

Are teams trying to slow down State’s offense when it gets clicking by faking injuries? There’s a good chance of it. But how can you–or anyone–definitely accuse someone of doing so? If you’re prepared to accuse teams of faking injuries, be prepared to say which players faked and which suffered legit injuries; short of meeting that nearly impossible prerequisite, save it for the competition committees.

Sure, there are plenty of holes to fill on this roster, forcing the staff to play many players before they’re ready. But there is some talent from the O’Brien era that is there–it just isn’t being utilized to its fullest extent. Shad Thornton had a grand total of four carries against BC. Why? We can all see he’s the most talented back on this roster–yet Tony Creecy starts and gets more work?

Bryan Underwood’s disappearing act is in full effect during his final season–one carry on a sweep against BC, no catches. Underwood in particular seems completely disengaged and frustrated by his lack of usage. His halfhearted attempt on a rare deep ball sent his way Saturday spoke volumes.

In short, don’t try to sell me on the idea that you were left nothing upon your arrival when these two talents go largely underused.

I like coach Doeren a lot. I think he’s learning on the go, which is hard, and I think he’s doing great things on the recruiting trail–he landed two big commits the same day as the BC loss–and all indications are that his players–his players–really enjoy being coached by him.

But I’m getting the sense a rift might be forming inside the locker room between the new guard and what’s left of the old. And I know a rift is forming between him and ever-growing segments of the fanbase with each ACC loss. The finger pointing that’s seemingly become a weekly ritual now is feeding these rifts, internal and external.

Coachspeak might be boring as hell–we can’t stand hearing it anymore than you can stand serving it up to us–but until you can find that speech kill switch inside you and learn how to use it judiciously, save the candid stuff for a later time when the ship has been righted and your “coaching capital” isn’t running low.

In the meantime? Try this:

“Tough fought game, proud of my kids, we’re improving, and I feel good about our chances next week. That’s pretty much all I got.”

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