Pack Pride's Big Board

Now that Tom O'Brien is no longer head coach, NC State athletics director Debbie Yow will be searching the country to find his replacement. Here is our updated Big Board that takes a look at several potential candidates.

Now that Tom O'Brien is no longer head coach, NC State athletics director Debbie Yow will be searching the country to find his replacement.

Here is a list of the coaches who we believe are still in play for NC State's head coaching job. This is a board that we will continue to update... removing and adding potential candidates based on information that we gather.

Here are several coaches who continue to be linked to NC State's coaching search.

Dave Doeren is one of the nation's top young coaches.

CURRENT JOB: Head Coach, Northern Illinois

QUICK NOTES: Known as a defensive-minded coach and a great recruiter, Doeren has taken what was already a strong NIU program under Jerry Kill and made it even better in his limited time there. During his time at Wisconsin and Kansas, he recruited players like Montee Ball, Aqib Talib (Tampa Bay Buccaneers) and Darrell Stuckey (San Diego Chargers). He also coached J.J. Watt (Houston Texans) and Matt Shaughnessy (Oakland Raiders).

Doeren led the Huskies to an 11-3 mark a season ago, a record that landed the program in the bowl against Arkansas State. The Huskies won that game 38-20, ending the season on a 9-game winning streak after losing early in the season to Kansas (45-42), Wisconsin (49-7) and Central Michigan (48-41).

The school rewarded Doeren's inaugural season with a contract extension and bump in pay. His contract, which runs through June 30, 2017, pays him $420,000 annually. If Doeren leaves for another job before June 30, 2013, his buyout would total $750,000.

In 2012, Doeren's Huskies have been even better. No. 21 Northern Illinois has won 11 straight games after a season-opening loss to Iowa (18-17), and the Huskies are poised to get into the BCS mix with a win in Friday's MAC Championship game against No. 17 Kent State. The Huskies avenged losses to Central Michigan and Kansas this season, downing the Chippewas 55-24 in and the Jayhawks 30-23 in back-to-back games in late September.

CONNECTING THE DOTS: There are a lot of interesting reasons to believe Doeren is in the mix. First of all, he's winning big as a mid-major school, which is always a plus. He also has plenty of recruiting experience and has served as a recruiting coordinator at multiple stops.

Also, he was hired at Northern Illinois with the assistance of Parker Executive Search, the same search firm that is assisting NC State with its search. The timing seems to suggest a coach still coaching could be in play and Doeren's squad is in action tonight.

Sonny Dykes has a reputation for being an offensive wizard.

CURRENT JOB: Head Coach, Lousiana Tech

QUICK NOTES: Dykes has a very, very good resume. He had multiple stops as an offensive coordinator at high-major programs (Texas Tech and Arizona) before being hired at La. Tech in 2010, and all he has done is turn that program around.

He led the school to its first Western Athletic Conference championship in a decade in 2011 and was named WAC Coach of the Year along the way. This season, he already has

Like Franklin, he'll be up for a plethora of jobs this offseason.

CONNECTING THE DOTS: Dykes really seems to fit the mold of the coaches that Yow targets. He has led a non-traditional power into the Top 25, is regarded as a great recruiter, has experience on all levels, and is a young at just 43.

He has been linked all week to the NC State coaching job but has also been mentioned in connection with Purdue and Cal.

Kliff Kingsbury would be the splash hire Yow could be looking for.

CURRENT JOB: Offensive Coordinator, Texas A&M

QUICK NOTES: If Debbie Yow is looking to make a splash hire, the biggest splash of them all, at least on this list, would be hiring Kliff Kingsbury.

A record-setting quarterback at Texas A&M, Kingsbury started coaching in 2008 following his professional career. In 2010 he had worked his way up to offensive coordinator at Houston where he mentored and developed the most productive passer in NCAA history, Case Keenum.

Kingsbury was named Offensive Coordinator of the Year by in 2011 after the Cougars led the nation in total offense, passing offense, and scoring offense with Keenum leading the way.

Kingsbury followed Kevin Sumlin to Texas A&M and his latest protege, Johnny Manziel, could be the first freshman to win the Heisman.

Finally, he is considered a terrific recruiter, helping A&M land one of the top classes, so far, in 2013.

CONNECTING THE DOTS -- At 33 years old, Kingsbury seems to have that "it" factor that Yow is looking for. He is a winner and coaches that have worked with him rave about his ability to relate to players and teach.

Also, he has deep ties to the "Air Raid" offense that Mike Leach and Sonny Dykes ran at Texas A&M, so he would bring an explosive offense with him to Raleigh if he was the man.

From what we've gathered, Kingsbury could be in play. Hiring Kingsbury would be risky, but he could have more upside than any coach on this list and pretty soon a program is going to take that risk.

Willie Taggart has completely turned around the Western Kentucky program.


CURRENT JOB: Head Coach, Western Kentucky

QUICK NOTES: Taggart has generated a lot of interest after making Western Kentucky competitive. A former assistant at Stanford, Taggart has taken WKU from an 0-12 mark when he was hired in 2010 to a 7-5 record in 2011.

The 36-year old has experience as an assistant coach, offensive coordinator, and head coach, and he is regarded as a terrific recruiter.

CONNECTING THE DOTS: Rinse and repeat. Like with the previous candidate mentioned, Taggart fits a certain profile: young, energetic, active recruiter, winner.

Now, he is an alum of Western Kentucky, and it might take a lot for him to leave... would NC State be a big enough job to do the trick?

Darrell Hazell has led Kent State to 11 wins in 2012.


CURRENT JOB: Head Coach, Kent State

QUICK NOTES: Kent State hasn't played a bowl game since 1972. That's a long time ago, but that is about to change and Hazell's direction is a big reason why.

The former Ohio State assistant took over in 2011 and has instantly turned around the program. The Golden Flames are ranked for the first time since 1973, have won 10 straight matchups, and could earn a BCS appearance with a win tonight versus Northern Illinois.

Hazell's team isn't particularly explosive on offense and are a run-first squad, but they are No. 2 in turnover margin, strong on special teams, and sound defensively.

CONNECTING THE DOTS: Hazell was Jim Tressell's right-hand man at Ohio State and considered to be a top-notch recruiter for the Buckeyes, a trait that Yow covets. He has served as an assistant at multiple stops with experience recruiting in the midwest, southeast, and northeast.

As with Doeren, interest in Hazell makes sense. He has a team that shouldn't sniff the Top 25 in the top 25 and has turned it around in the blink of an eye.

Pete Lembo is the only coach on the list who has already coached in North Carolina.


CURRENT JOB: Head Coach, Ball State

QUICK NOTES: Pete Lembo wouldn't be a sexy hire by NC State, but Debbie Yow's job is to hire a coach that is going to win games and he has proven he can do that at multiple stops.

Lembo received his first head coaching job in 2001 and led Lehigh to the Patriot League title, a feat he would accomplish again in 2004. He never won less than eight games at Lehigh, and he finished ranked in the Top 25 3 times in five seasons. The four seasons after Lembo left? Lehigh won six, five, five, and four games.

Lembo was hired at Elon in 2006. He inherited a program that had won two, four, three, two, and three games the previous five seasons. He would win five, seven, eight, nine, and six games the next five years and would finish ranked in the Top 25 three seasons.

He left Elon for Ball State in 2010, taking over a program that had won two and four games the previous two years. He won six in 2011 and has led the team to a 9-3 mark in 2012.

At 42 years old, Lembo has been a head coach at three programs and won at all three.

CONNECTING THE DOTS: Yow certainly knows all about Lembo. She is on the Board of Trustees at Elon, where Lembo spent five seasons before being hired at Ball State.

Lembo runs an innovative offense and a major positive with him is he already has developed recruiting connections within the state from his years at Elon. He could return to North Carolina and hit the ground running on the recruiting trail.

Remember, Yow mentioned at Sunday's press conference that she wants a coach who is going to land his fair share of top in-state recruits. Lembo will certainly know his way around the Tar Heel State to do just that.

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