Dave Doeren woke up with a choice on Thursday: Tennessee or N.C. State?
Doeren turned down a bigger offer from the SEC school to stay with the Wolfpack after his best season in Raleigh.
The N.C. State board of trustees is expected to approve a five-year contract, worth about $3 million per year, on Friday.
The school announced the two sides had come to an agreement on Thursday after Tennessee had courted the fifth-year Wolfpack coach.
“This is what I wanted all along,” Doeren said in an interview on Thursday. “I’m thankful to the university for giving me the time and security that I need to build a program everybody is proud of.”
N.C. State is 8-4 and ranked No. 24 in the College Football Playoff poll. Doeren was hired by athletic director Debbie Yow after the 2012 season to build a top-25 program.
It has taken Doeren some time, and there have been some bumps in the road, but Doeren has reached that goal.
The two sides had hoped to work out an agreement in October, after the Wolfpack had started the season at 6-1, but couldn’t come to an agreement on the length of the contract.
Doeren’s current deal is worth about $2.2 million per year, and he has three years left on it. Among the 12 publicly available contracts, Doeren’s current deal ranks 10th in the ACC, according to the USA Today database.
Doeren, according to a source with knowledge of the situation, had wanted a five-year deal, a raise that would put him in the middle of the ACC pecking order and a bigger pool of money for his assistant coaches.
The negotiations broke down, primarily over the length of the contract, before N.C. State had closed the regular season with a 33-21 win over North Carolina.
Doeren had considered an offer from Oregon State and was in preliminary talks with Mississippi before talks with Tennessee reached the point where he was offered the job on Wednesday night.
Tennessee, which had paid former coach Butch Jones $4 million a year, had been prepared to pay Doeren the same amount, according to a source.
Doeren, who has a 33-30 record at N.C. State, ultimately took significantly less money to stay in Raleigh.
Tennessee’s search, looking more every day like N.C. State’s wild, protracted search for a basketball coach in 2006, had already been through four candidates, including Duke’s David Cutcliffe, before it reached Doeren.
Tennessee athletic director John Currie met with Doeren on Wednesday afternoon in Raleigh to discuss the Volunteers’ opening.
N.C. State countered with an offer on Wednesday night, and Doeren woke up on Thursday, weighing the chance to make more money at Tennessee against the chance to build on his recent success with the Wolfpack.
“Dave has made significant strides in developing a complete program at N.C. State, and this new contract continues our commitment to his leadership,” Yow said in a statement released by the school.
“We want to support the continued growth of the program under Dave, the culture he has established, the competitive and academic gains he’s helped us achieve and his continued progress in recruiting.”
Doeren, who turns 46 on Sunday, has a strong recruiting class lined up this year. Kicker Chris Dunn and quarterback Devin Leary are the key additions in the class.
N.C. State will lose 20 seniors from this year’s team, which finished 6-2 in the ACC for the first time since 1994.
Doeren was already back on the road recruiting on Thursday. He was in Hillsborough hoping to land linebacker Payton Wilson, a high-profile in-state recruit.
Doeren was given the choice on Thursday, and there was no other place he would rather be.
“I’m glad it’s over,” Doeren said.
Joe Giglio: 919-829-8938, @jwgiglio