On Saturday, NC State’s coach Dave Doeren equaled the school’s top record for coaching victories with a win against Clemson at home.
However, it was Doeren’s passionate remarks towards former Carolina Panthers star Steve Smith Sr. during his post-game interview that will likely stand out as the most memorable moment from that 24-17 victory.
On Monday, Doeren shared that he received a text and celebratory video from Smith, who was the guest selector on ESPN’s “College GameDay” program and chose Clemson as the winner.
“I am grateful as a man for his actions. It requires great humility to carry out such acts,” stated Doeren on Monday. “Although I interpreted it as disrespectful towards our program, I know he did not intend it that way.”
Smith’s remark, “Unfortunately, NC State is just waiting for basketball season to begin,” triggered Doeren’s response. According to Doeren, this comment was the final thing he heard before leaving the locker room on Saturday.
During his postgame interview on The CW Network, Doeren stated that this is not a basketball-focused school and told Steve Smith, who was in the studio, to kiss his buttocks.
Afterwards, he stated that Smith should complete his homework.
He elaborated on his thought process on Monday and stated that the comment had “annoyed” him.
“As a competitor, there comes a time when you reach a breaking point,” stated Doeren. “Personally, I had reached that point. You have two options: to endure it or to stand up and fight. I have been urging our players to keep fighting and I wanted to lead by example.”
Doeren extended an invitation to Smith, a resident of the Charlotte area, to attend a game and join the NC State sidelines.
Doeren expressed optimism that he would.
He stated that Smith had informed him that the comment was not intended to be harmful.
Doeren expressed that many individuals have a strong sense of self that would prevent them from making such a statement. “I am not familiar with him. For that to be our initial conversation held significant meaning for me.”
Although Smith did not explicitly state it, Doeren and numerous supporters interpreted his remarks as insinuating that NC State prioritizes basketball over other sports. In the realm of high-level college sports driven by football and media deals, the concept of a “basketball school” does not truly exist. However, after 11 years as head coach in Raleigh, Doeren felt compelled to defend his team’s reputation.
“I will always prioritize what I believe is in the best interest of the group I am leading and myself as the head coach of this football team. I will defend my 11 years of dedicated effort, as well as the players, coaches, and fans who have supported me throughout. Unless I am told otherwise, I will continue to be the kind of coach who stands up for what I believe in.”
Doeren reached out to NC State’s men’s basketball coach Kevin Keatts to ensure that his remarks did not cause any issues for him.
Doeren expressed his annoyance at being categorized as a school focused solely on one sport, as this is not the case. He went on to list the university’s achievements and the strong fan following for sports such as women’s basketball, baseball, wrestling, and cross country.
“The proof is in what I just said. The ability to be productive in so many sports. It’s a well-rounded athletic department full of competitive winning teams, and since I am the football coach, I’m going to defend my post for football.”
On Saturday evening at 8 p.m. on the ACC Network, the Wolfpack (5-3, 2-2 in the ACC) will face Miami (6-2, 2-2) at home. Head coach Doeren will be looking for his 101st win overall and his 78th win at NC State, which would break his tie with Earle Edwards for the most wins at the university.
According to Doeren, highly-regarded linebacker Payton Wilson, who exited the Clemson game late with a potential knee injury, is projected to be in good condition for the upcoming matchup against Miami. Wilson was honored as the ACC Linebacker of the Week for the fourth time this season. He recorded eight tackles, with 1.5 resulting in a loss, and scored a 15-yard touchdown on an interception return against Clemson.
Doeren stated that Payton is performing at a higher level than any other college football player.