Losing streaks are bad.
A double-digit ACC losing streak is actually not necessarily a bad sign for N.C. State coach Dave Doeren.
As painful as the present might be – the Wolfpack has lost a school-record 11 consecutive ACC games to start Doeren’s tenure – there’s precedent for hope for Doeren’s future.
Mack Brown and Bobby Ross, coaches who went on to win a national title (albeit Brown at another school), each suffered through school-record ACC losing streaks.
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And don’t forget Jim Caldwell, who lost 14 consecutive ACC games with Wake Forest in the mid-1990s, but ended up coaching an NFL team to the Super Bowl.
First, the bad news. The Wolfpack’s losing streak might get longer before it gets better. Louisville is a 17.5-point favorite in Saturday’s game.
N.C. State enters the game at Louisville with the school-record 11-game ACC losing streak. The odds are the streak will hit 12 on the road. Duke and Virginia are the only ACC programs that have had losing streaks equal to or longer than the Pack’s current one this century. (Note: the Blue Devils and Cavaliers are playing for the Coastal Division lead Saturday in Durham.)
N.C. State finished 0-8 last season under Doeren, which was the fourth winless conference season in school history and first since 1959. The Wolfpack has lost the first three ACC games this season. Doeren understands his current situation.
“Believe me, I hear about it more than anyone,” Doeren said after last week’s 30-14 home loss to Boston College.
Doeren said it’s going to take time to build a winner. That was certainly the case for Brown, who lost a school-record 12 straight ACC games at North Carolina from 1988 to 1990.
The Tar Heels won just one conference game (20-17 over Georgia Tech in 1988) in Brown’s first two seasons. By Brown’s ninth and 10th seasons with UNC, he went 13-3 in the ACC in 1996 and ’97. After Brown left UNC for Texas in ’97, he led the Longhorns to the 2005 national title.
Ross lost his first 15 ACC games with Georgia Tech, starting in 1987 until finally beating Maryland (his former school) in the third ACC game of the 1989 season. The Yellow Jackets went 4-3 in the ACC in ’89 and 7-4 overall. Then they broke through with an 11-0-1 season in 1990, the year they finished No. 1 in the coaches’ poll.
Doeren and Wolfpack fans are hoping the second-year coach can get into the same class as Brown and Ross. At the other end of the spectrum is Duke. The Blue Devils lost 30 consecutive ACC games from 1999 to 2003 under coach Carl Franks. Ted Roof, who succeeded Franks midway through the ’03 season, lost his final 25 ACC games.
Those are the two longest streaks in ACC history, if that gives you any idea about the unbelievable progress coach David Cutcliffe, who has won 10 of his past 19 ACC games, has made in Durham.
No other ACC team has hit the 20-game barrier in consecutive conference losses. Virginia lost 18 straight from 1958 to 1961. Wake Forest lost 17 straight from 1989 to 1991. Coincidentally, Bill Dooley was the Demon Deacons’ coach. Dooley also led UNC to its longest ACC winning streak, 15 games, from 1970 to 1972.
Florida State owns the ACC record for consecutive conference wins. The Seminoles won their first 29 ACC games from 1992 until a 33-28 loss at Virginia in 1995. The Noles’ current ACC streak, including two ACC title games, hit 19 with last week’s 38-20 win at Syracuse.
Only Maryland’s Jerry Claiborne, 21 straight ACC games from 1973 to 1977, and Danny Ford’s Clemson teams, from 1981 to 1984, have won more than FSU’s current streak.
Winning streaks are nice.
At this point, Doeren would just settle for one conference win.