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Dave Doeren Says NC State Not Playing in Holiday Bowl Is ‘Disappointing’

North Carolina State football coach Dave Doeren was watching the last few minutes of the 2021 Birmingham Bowl when he found out the Wolfpack would not be playing against UCLA in the Holiday Bowl on Tuesday evening.

UCLA announced that it would not be able to participate due to a COVID-19 outbreak in the program. Bruce Feldman of The Athletic was the first to report that the game was taken off the schedule. 

Following the announcement, Doeren could not believe the news about the game and told reporters that situation was “disappointing.”

“I thought it was fake news to be honest,” Doeren said. “Our team has done everything right... a lot went into the finish of the season, it's tough,” Doeren said.

While Doeren described his players’ mindset as sad, mad and angered during a team meeting after the announcement, he felt that UCLA could have done a better job handling the situation.

“Felt lied to ... We felt like UCLA probably knew something was going on with their team and didn’t tell anybody. On our side, we had know clue what they were up against that. I don’t think it was very well handled from their university.

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It would’ve been great if we had a heads up maybe two or three days ago to find a plan B.”

According to Feldman, UCLA’s defensive line room “has been decimated by Covid issues,” leading to Tuesday's decision. “The Bruins were down to two interior d-linemen yesterday for this game with a converted LB as the back-up nose guard, and were set to play but then had more covid issues today,” he added.

NC State (9–3) was 100% vaccinated as a team. The Wolfpack were looking to earn a second 10-win season in program history.

However, according to Doeren, things happen in life that present challenges that are unfair.

“First noble truth out there is that life is not fair. And when you start thinking it is, you are going to feel really bad,” Doeren said. “This was an unfair thing that happened.  

“Like all other unfair things that happened, there is not going to be a rationale or storyline that makes it feel good.”

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