CLEMSON — N.C. State’s search for a new head football coach appears to be moving away from Chad Morris.
The (Raleigh) News and Observer reported Saturday that a pair of Mid-American Conference coaches – Northern Illinois’ Dave Doeren and Kent State’s Darrell Hazell – top the Wolfpack’s wish list.
Doeren and NIU beat Hazell and Kent State in double overtime in the MAC title game Friday night, 44-37.
Both are regarded as rising stars in the coaching community.
Doeren is 23-4 with two MAC titles in two seasons at NIU which, at 12-1, entered Saturday with an outside shot at a BCS bid. Kent State is 11-2 and was No.17 in this week’s Associated Press top 25.
Hazell makes $300,000 annually, while Doeren makes $423,000.
Morris interviewed with N.C. State officials Wednesday in Atlanta, along with Louisiana Tech coach Sonny Dykes. All four candidates fit the profile of what State seeks: a young coach who runs an exciting offensive system.
Morris does not have a buyout in his contract to take a head coaching job, unlike the other candidates, but he makes $1.3 million annually as the nation’s highest-paid assistant coach. N.C. State paid former coach Tom O’Brien $1.9 million annually and owes him a $1.2 million buyout spread over the next four years. Dykes makes $760,000 annually.
Morris is regarded as one of the nation’s hottest head coaching candidates after guiding a Clemson offense which has become one of the nation’s top 10 most prolific systems in his two years at the helm.