Dabo vs Dave: It’s Complicated

There are opposing coaches and then there is Dave Doeren.

It’s easy for many to dislike this man across the field. His constant, seemingly sour disposition and the need to always try to get in “the last word” is tiring. His behavior most times, seems petulant, almost childish.

I’m sure, his desire to win is endearing to the Wolfpack faithful, as we fans are a fanatical passionate group. I’m sure his players love him, he seems to be a player’s coach. I’m sure, underneath all that perceived anger, he’s a good and decent man. I recognize we are all complex, able to manifest multiple personalities to suit any situation but Dave Doeren seems…well, complicated.

He’s in his eighth season as the Wolfpack head coach. He has had moderate success, owning a 57-47 record during his tenure in Raleigh. He’s had his share of talented players. Mike Glennon and Ryan Finley immediately to mind. He certainly doesn’t lack passion nor commitment, that’s obvious. So, he’s not all bad.

The thing that a lot of us, outside of the Wolfpack faithful, are bothered by is his seemingly childish behavior. The whole “Laptop” incident highlights that assertion. The “Towelgate” game and his perceived lack of sportsmanship being unwilling to even shake Dabo Swinney’s hand in the 2019 postgame meeting at midfield. All of which lacks even a modicum of the professionalism that’s expected in sport.

He’s always shouting “foul” for any slight, real or imagined but that’s just coaching. It’s easy to see and feel his disdain for Clemson and Dabo Swinney. It’s understandable, being beaten over and over by the same coach, and the same team. That has to be a difficult pill to swallow. However, when the final whistle blows, most professionals leave it on the field, not Dave.

If only his team’s on field performances were good enough “to cash the checks” his off the field arrogance and ambivalence have written, it might be a little more understandable. But they can’t. Every opposing fanbase dislikes the other guy, I get it.

The sight of Nick Saban stalking the sidelines used to bring out my visceral disgust in seeing him win and win and win. Today, while he’s not my favorite guy, he’s earned my respect. He has a sense of humor that is exclusively his and his passion and success is accepted because his team’s on the field performance can cash any check Nick Saban writes. He’s a curmudgeon, a well respected, very successful curmudgeon. He’s just Saban.

This weekend, the outcome of this year’s matchup, unlike in recent years, is no foregone conclusion. Many Tiger fans are hoping to see any sign of improvement on the offensive side of the ball. A little something resembling the Clemson performances of old. Who knows what the outcome will be, that’s to be decided on the field.

I’m interested in seeing the postgame meeting between the two coaches. Will it be a frosty freeze moment? Only time and a possible Wolfpack victory will tell. Yes, Dave Doeren is different but the difference does add spice to this storied, long running, “Textile Bowl.”

Hopefully, no one will carry a laptop on the sidelines this weekend, we’ve heard enough of that. Let’s all hope for a hard fought, injury and accusation free game. It’s what fans from both teams expect and deserve.

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