There has been a lot of talk about Northern Illinois University in recent weeks. Ever since the Huskies used the rules laid out by the BCS to make it into one of the coveted BCS Bowl Games, all of the talking heads on ESPN have absolutely lost it. NIU had to be ranked at least 16th in the BCS, which they were at 15th, and they had to finish above a BCS automatic qualifying conference champion, which they finished ahead of two of them. Still, most ESPN analysts feel that they don’t belong. However, the qualifications of NIU and their chances against an overrated Florida State squad are not what is going to be discussed here.
Simply put, Dave Doeren left millions on the table by deciding to leave NIU this season, let alone before his big chance in the Orange Bowl. He recently took the job at NC State, for a 5 year salary worth about $750,000/year. That is roughly a 100% raise from his salary at NIU, a smart business decision it seems. However, Doeren could have vaulted into consideration for SEC jobs this year or after another year at NIU for a much higher annual salary. Some recent contracts in the SEC were at Tennessee, Arkansas and Auburn. Those coaches now earn between $2.3 million and $3.2 million annually.
Coach Doeren may be thinking that if he failed in the Orange Bowl, or if NIU under performed next year, he would not be in contention for even the NC State job. I can’t see a way where that happens though. NC State would still see Doeren’s potential and schools like that are a natural stepping stone for Non-AQ coaches to get into the ACC, then eventually the Big Ten, SEC or PAC-12.
On the other hand, had Doeren led his NIU team to an Orange Bowl victory, not only would he have been in consideration to jump straight to the big leagues of NCAA football. He would have become a legend the likes of Boise State head coach Chris Peterson. Boise had the capital to retain their sought after BCS killer, but Doeren could have parlayed his BCS buster success into a BCS job worth at least 500% of his salary at NIU.
Bottom line is this, Dave Doeren should have honored his commitment to the NIU Huskies and coached them in the Orange Bowl. Not just for his players and the school, but for his future potential as a head coach. He needs to get that signature win that all the talking heads on ESPN are demanding of the Huskies. If he had gotten that against Florida State, he would be the most sought after coach in college football. Everyone wants to catch lightning in a bottle and find the next up and comer, Dave Doeren missed his chance to become the next one to truly cash in. Better hope the Wolfpack plays as well as the Huskies, or Doeren’s window will close.