|NC State Wolfpack|
|Athletic director||Boo Corrigan|
|Head coach||Dave Doeren |
8th season, 55-45 (.550)
|Location||Raleigh, North Carolina|
|Past conferences||SoCon (1921-1953)|
|Bowl record||17–14–1 (.547)|
|Conference titles||11 (7 ACC, 3 SAIAA, 1 Southern)|
|Rivalries||North Carolina (rivalry) |
Wake Forest (rivalry)
East Carolina (rivalry)
|Colors||Red and white|
|Fight song||NC State Fight Song|
|Mascot||Mr. and Ms. Wuf|
|Marching band||The Power Sound of the South|
The NC State Wolfpack football team represents North Carolina State University in the sport of American football. The Wolfpack competes in the NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and the Atlantic Division of the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC). Prior to joining the ACC in 1953, the Wolfpack were a member of the Southern Conference. As a founding member of the ACC, the Wolfpack has won seven conference championships and participated in 31 bowl games, of which the team has won 17, including eight of their last 11. NC State is coached by Dave Doeren.
Since 1966, the Wolfpack has played its home games at Carter-Finley Stadium. On September 16, 2010, NC State restored the tradition of having a live mascot on the field. A wolf-like Tamaskan Dog named "Tuffy" was on the sidelines for the Cincinnati game that day in Raleigh and Tuffy has not missed a Wolfpack football game in Carter-Finley Stadium since.
NC State (then known as The North Carolina College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts) played its first football game against a team from the Raleigh Male Academy on March 12, 1892, in what is now Pullen Park. The team's first head coach was Perrin Busbee, who led the team during that game. The Aggies, whose colors were blue and pink, won 12-6 in front of more than 200 spectators. The following year, the school played its first intercollegiate game: a 12-6 victory over Tennessee College. The program's long-standing rivalry with nearby University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill began on October 12, 1894, with a 44-0 UNC victory in Chapel Hill. Eight days later, the team (then called the Farmers) lost again to UNC, 16-0 in Raleigh. In 1895, under third-year coach Bart Gatling, the team finished 2-2-1 and wore red and white uniforms for the first time. Over the next five seasons the program continued to try to establish itself, achieving only one winning season during the period. The football team has also only had scholarship football players since 1933, prior to that all Wolfpack athletics consisted entirely of non-scholarship student athletes.
In 1906, in a game against Randolph-Macon in Raleigh, the Farmers attempted their first forward pass, a play that had only recently become legal and at the time was still considered a "trick" play. The following season was the program's most successful yet. Under coach Mickey Whitehurst, A&M won the South Atlantic Intercollegiate Athletic Association championship with a 6-0-1 record. That season, the program also recorded its first ever victory over Virginia. The Farmers played their home games that season on campus at the New Athletic Park, which would later be known as Riddick Stadium. In addition to Pullen Park, the state fairgrounds had hosted some games prior to the opening of the new stadium.
The team won a second South Atlantic championship in 1910 under coach Edward Green, finishing with a record of 4-0-2. A win over Virginia Tech in Norfolk that season was dubbed the "biggest game ever played in the South". Coach Green led team to a third conference championship in 1913, with a record of 6-1. The 1918 season, which was the school's first season with the name North Carolina State University, was cut short due to the United States' entrance into World War I and a severe flu outbreak on campus. The team's roster was depleted, its schedule reduced to four games, and practice was suspended for five weeks in October and November. A week after practice resumed, State College, as the school was then called, led by coach Tal Stafford, was defeated 128-0 by Georgia Tech in Atlanta. Tackle John Ripple was named the program's first All-American. The following season, on October 23, the Farmers resumed play with North Carolina after a 14-year hiatus. The Tar Heels won the game 13-12 in Raleigh. It wasn't until 1920 that A&M defeated the rival Tar Heels for the first time.
In 1921 State College began wearing red sweaters and were referred to by the local media as the Wolfpack. The program, led by coach Harry Hartsell at the time, joined the Southern Conference that year and would win the conference title six seasons later under coach Gus Tebell, finishing the year with a 9-1 record. Running back Jack McDowall was the team's star player that year. The 1930 season saw the installation of field lighting at Riddick Stadium, as the Wolfpack defeated High Point University, 37-0, in the team's first ever night game.
Williams Newton took over as State's head coach in 1937, and under his tutelage the team compiled a record of 24-39-6. Under Newton, State employed a ground-oriented, hard nose attack that put pressure on the opposing interior linemen. Recruitment became difficult during at least part of his tenure as head coach due to the fact that World War II necessitated that eligible males over 18 be inducted into the U.S. military. Newton left NC State after seven seasons to accept the head football coach position at South Carolina.
In 1944, State hired former Appalachian State head coach Beattie Feathers as the Wolfpack head football coach. Feathers, a former star at Tennessee and the first NFL running back to rush for 1,000 yards in a season, compiled a 37-38-8 record in eight seasons, the program's most successful coaching tenure yet. In Feathers' second season, Wolfpack defensive player Howard "Touchdown" Turner returned an interception 105 yards against Duke, a record that still stands as the longest play in Wolfpack history. The 1946 season began with wins over Duke and Clemson, earning the program their first appearance in the UPI poll (19th). The next year, NC State reached their first ever bowl game, the second annual Gator Bowl. The team lost to Oklahoma, 34-13, and finished the season at 8-3, the highest win total since finishing 9-1 in 1927. 1947 saw the Wolfpack finish 5-3-1. That season was followed by a 3-6-1 campaign in 1948, a 3-7 mark in 1949 and a 5-4-1 record in 1950. The Wolfpack's first ever nationally televised game was played in 1950. State defeated eighth-ranked Maryland 16-13 in College Park. The game aired on the now-defunct Dumont Television Network. After a 3-7 campaign in 1951, Feathers was relieved of his duties as head coach.
Horace Hendrickson was promoted from assistant coach to head coach after Feathers' departure. Under Hendrickson's tutelage, the Wolfpack struggled, compiling a record of 4-16. Hendrickson was fired after two seasons due to the team's struggles. NC State joined the newly formed Atlantic Coast Conference in 1953 as a charter member, leaving the Southern Conference after 29 years of membership. The team, which had finished 3-7 in 1952, finished 1-9 that year under head coach Hendrickson.
Earle Edwards was hired as the team's head coach before the 1954 season. Edwards had previously been an assistant at Michigan State under Biggie Munn and at Penn State under Bob Higgins. Edwards' teams compiled a record of 77-88-8. Edwards is the longest tenured coach in NC State Wolfpack football history and holds the program records for games coached, wins, and losses.
His teams won five Atlantic Coast Conference titles and made two Liberty Bowl appearances. Four times he was named the ACC Coach of the Year. Edwards produced eight All-Americans: Dick Christy, halfback (1957), Roman Gabriel, quarterback (1960, 1961), Don Montgomery, defensive end (1963), Dennis Byrd, defensive tackle (1966, 1967), Fred Combs, defensive back (1967), Gerald Warren, kicker (1967), Ron Carpenter, defensive tackle (1968), and Cary Metts, center, (1968). Though Edwards' tenure wasn't overly successful from a record standpoint, it was the most successful tenure of any head coach to that point and laid the foundation for future successes to occur. Edwards retired after seventeen seasons as the Wolfpack's head football coach.
After Edwards' retirement, State promoted Al Michaels from assistant coach to head coach. Things didn't pan out for Michaels, as the Wolfpack compiled a 3-8 record in his only year as head coach. Michaels was fired after just one season.
In 1972, State hired Lou Holtz away from William & Mary as head coach. Holtz had a 33-12-3 record in four seasons at NC State. His Wolfpack teams played in four bowl games, going 2-1-1. Holtz's 1972 team finished 8-3-1, won the Peach Bowl over West Virginia and finished the season ranked No. 17 in the final AP poll. Holtz's 1973 team finished 9-3, won the Liberty Bowl and finished the season ranked No. 16 in the final AP poll. The 1974 team finished 9-2-1, tied Houston in the Bluebonnet Bowl and finished the season ranked No. 9 in the Coaches' poll and No. 11 in the AP poll.
When Holtz moved on, Bo Rein, previously offensive coordinator at Arkansas, became the youngest college football head coach upon his hiring by North Carolina State. Guiding the Wolfpack football team, Rein was an advocate of the coaching philosophy of Ohio State's Woody Hayes for whom Rein played. During Rein's four years at NC State, he led the team to two bowl games, defeating Iowa State in the 1977 Peach Bowl and defeating the Pittsburgh in the 1978 Tangerine Bowl. In Rein's final year at NC State, his team won the Wolfpack's last ACC title to date. Despite winning the conference title, the Wolfpack were not invited to a bowl-as of the end of the 2019 season, the last bowl-eligible conference champion from a power conference to not take part in a bowl game.
Among Rein's top players at NC State were Outland Trophy winner Jim Ritcher, a center for the Wolfpack who later started at guard on four Super Bowl teams with the Buffalo Bills, and linebacker Bill Cowher, who later served as head coach of the NFL's Pittsburgh Steelers for 15 seasons and won Super Bowl XL.
Following the 1979 season, Rein resigned as head football coach at State to accept the same position at LSU, but Rein died in a plane crash before ever coaching a game for the Tigers. Following every season, the NC State football team awards the "Bo Rein Award" to a player that makes a vital contribution in an unsung role.
After Rein's departure, NC State hired Arkansas defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin, father of Ole Miss and former Florida Atlantic, Oakland Raiders, Tennessee and USC head coach Lane Kiffin, as head coach. Kiffin served three seasons at State and his teams compiled a 16-17 record. Kiffin's defensive coordinator during his three seasons at NCSU was Pete Carroll. Kiffin decided to leave NCSU after three seasons to pursue coaching opportunities in the NFL.
Tom Reed was hired away from Miami (OH) to take over as head coach of the Wolfpack after Kiffin's departure. State struggled under Reed's leadership, posting three consecutive 3-8 yearly records en route to a 9-24 overall mark. Under mounting pressure from fans, alumni and the school administration, Reed resigned after the 1985 season.
State chose Dick Sheridan, head coach at Furman, to take over as head coach of the Wolfpack football program in late 1986. Under the tutelage of coach Sheridan, the Wolfpack compiled a record of 52-29-3. State made six bowl appearances (two wins) and finished ranked in either the AP or Coaches poll three times.
Sheridan retired unexpectedly after seven seasons, citing health concerns and emotional issues.
Mike O'Cain was promoted from quarterbacks coach to head coach after Sheridan's retirement. Under O'Cain, the Wolfpack compiled a record of 41-40. O'Cain's seven-year tenure saw three bowl appearances, including a win in the 1994 Peach Bowl.
The latter part of O'Cain's tenure saw mostly mediocre teams. His 1995 and 1996 teams finished with 3-8 records, and although the Wolfpack improved to finish 6-5, 7-5 and 6-6 the next three years, he went 0-7 against archrival North Carolina. NCSU fired O'Cain after the 1999 season.
In 2000, longtime college football assistant and NCSU alum Chuck Amato was hired as State's head football coach. Although Amato had no head coaching or coordinating experience, NCSU felt that Amato's 18-year tenure as defensive line coach under Bobby Bowden at Florida State, winning two national championships, would help boost recruiting, ticket sales, and program prestige.
Amato accumulated an overall record of 49-37, including a record of 34-17 during the four-year period from 2000 through 2003 while Philip Rivers was the Wolfpack's starting quarterback. Amato's most successful season was in 2002 when the Wolfpack won a school-record 11 games and defeated Notre Dame in the Gator Bowl. That team finished ranked No. 12 in the AP poll, their highest final ranking in 29 years.
Amato's tenure in Raleigh crested after Rivers graduated and left for the NFL. The Wolfpack finished 5-6 in 2004, 7-5 in 2005, and 3-9 in 2006. On November 26, 2006, Amato was fired by NC State athletics director Lee Fowler after a seven-game losing streak capped off the 2006 season. Noted losses include an upset by Akron, a third straight loss to archrival North Carolina, and a loss at home to East Carolina. Highlights of the 2006 season include wins against Boston College and Florida State. In a statement, Fowler acknowledged Amato's "excitement and enthusiasm." He continued, "This enthusiasm fueled an $87 million renovation to Carter-Finley Stadium." Nonetheless, mediocre 2005 and 2006 seasons led to the decision "to take the program in a new direction." Even with Rivers as quarterback, Amato's teams never won more than five games in conference play, and actually finished six games under .500 in ACC play.
Tom O'Brien was hired away from Boston College and named NCSU head football coach in December 2006. He inherited a team that had gone 3-9 and lost its last seven games. In his first year, after opening the season 1-5, his team pulled together and won four straight games, including a win over 18th-ranked Virginia and tough road wins at East Carolina and Miami. Despite the slow start, his first Wolfpack squad went into the season finale with a bowl bid on the line.
The 2008 season will go down as one of the best of O'Brien's tenure, as the Wolfpack became the first in Atlantic Coast Conference history to start the season 0-4 in league play and finish 4-0, with an overall record of 6-7. The bid to the Papajohns.com Bowl marked the ninth bowl invitation in the past 10 years for O'Brien. His freshman quarterback, Russell Wilson, who would go on to become a Super Bowl winning quarterback for the NFL's Seattle Seahawks, became the first rookie in the history of the Atlantic Coast Conference to be named first-team all-conference at his position and it marked the sixth time in his 19 years in the league that a quarterback under O'Brien's tutelage was named the All-ACC signal caller.
After being picked to finish fourth in the Atlantic Division in the preseason in 2010, the Wolfpack finished with a record of 9-4 and tied for second in the ACC, was one game away from playing for an ACC title and was the third league team picked in the bowl selections. O'Brien's squad was the first Wolfpack team to garner nine wins since 2003 posted State's first winning season in five years. With the Champs Sports Bowl victory over West Virginia, the 2010 squad tied the second highest win total in school history while finishing 9-4.
On November 25, 2012, O'Brien received notice from NC State that he had been dismissed effective immediately despite navigating the team to a 7-5 regular-season record. Athletic director Debbie Yow cited several reasons. She was concerned over lagging season-ticket sales, as well as his approach to recruiting. O'Brien's recruiting classes were frequently in the bottom half of the nation, and Yow wanted a coach who could bring top 25-type talent to Raleigh. NCSU was obligated to pay $1.2 million of non-state funds to O'Brien, as his contract ran through the 2015 season. However, NCSU ended up only having to pay O'Brien $200,000 after the buyout was renegotiated so he could become an assistant at Virginia.
In Doeren's first season at the helm, the Wolfpack compiled a record of 3-9 and failed to win an ACC game. In his second season, they improved to 8-5 (one of the fastest turnarounds in school history), and won the 2014 St. Petersburg Bowl. They also posted a decisive 35-7 win against archrival North Carolina. Doeren accomplished all this with the 3rd youngest team in the nation.
The next year, Doeren's team finished 7-6, losing the 2015 Belk Bowl. The team was led by quarterback Jacoby Brissett, who was eventually selected by the New England Patriots in the 2016 NFL Draft. For the 2016 season, the Wolfpack again finished 7-6. NC State began the season with a victory over William & Mary. After losing the following week to East Carolina, State won three straight, defeating Old Dominion, Wake Forest and Notre Dame (in a game infamously played during Hurricane Matthew). NC State would then lose four games in a row, first in a heartbreaker against No. 3 Clemson, then to No. 7 Louisville, and finally to Boston College and No. 19 Florida State. The Wolfpack would close the season with a win over Syracuse, a loss to Miami, a victory in the regular season finale against archrival North Carolina and a win over Vanderbilt in the Independence Bowl in Shreveport, Louisiana. On Thursday, October 5, 2017, at 8:00 pm, NC State played Louisville where quarterbacks Ryan Finley (NCSU) and Lamar Jackson (LOU) faced off in front of a national TV audience on ESPN College Football Thursday Primetime. Ryan Finley threw the football for 367 yards and Lamar Jackson threw the football for 354 yards. NC State won its first ACC divisional match-up against Louisville, with a final score of 39-25.
NC State has been both independent and affiliated with multiple conferences.
|1907||South Atlantic Intercollegiate Athletic Association||Mickey Whitehurst||6-0-1||5-0-0|
|1910||South Atlantic Intercollegiate Athletic Association||Eddie Green||4-0-2||2-0-2|
|1913||South Atlantic Intercollegiate Athletic Association||Eddie Green||6-1||2-0|
|1927||Southern Conference||Gus Tebell||9-1||4-0|
|1957||Atlantic Coast Conference||Earle Edwards||7-1-2||5-0-1|
|1963+||Atlantic Coast Conference||Earle Edwards||8-3||6-1|
|1964||Atlantic Coast Conference||Earle Edwards||5-5||5-2|
|1965+||Atlantic Coast Conference||Earle Edwards||6-4||5-2?|
|1968||Atlantic Coast Conference||Earle Edwards||6-4||6-1|
|1973||Atlantic Coast Conference||Lou Holtz||9-3||6-0|
|1979||Atlantic Coast Conference||Bo Rein||7-4||5-1|
? On-field record was 4-3, but adjusted to 5-2 due to South Carolina's use of an ineligible player, resulting in an ACC co-championship
|Years||Coach||ACC Record||Overall Record||Pct.|
|1892, 1896-97||Perrin Busbee||--||3-2-0||.600|
|1905||George S. Whitney||--||4-1-1||.750|
|1917, 1921-23||Harry Hartsell||--||16-18-4||.474|
|1930||John Van Liew||--||2-8-0||.200|
NC State has participated in 33 bowl games as of the conclusion of the 2020 season.
|1||January 1, 1947||Gator Bowl||Oklahoma||L 13-34|
|2||December 21, 1963||Liberty Bowl||Mississippi State||L 12-16|
|3||December 16, 1967||Liberty Bowl||Georgia||W 14-7|
|4||December 29, 1972||Peach Bowl||West Virginia||W 49-13|
|5||December 17, 1973||Liberty Bowl||Kansas||W 31-18|
|6||December 23, 1974||Bluebonnet Bowl||Houston||T 31-31|
|7||December 31, 1975||Peach Bowl||West Virginia||L 10-13|
|8||December 31, 1977||Peach Bowl||Iowa State||W 24-14|
|9||December 23, 1978||Tangerine Bowl||Pittsburgh||W 30-17|
|10||December 31, 1986||Peach Bowl||Virginia Tech||L 24-25|
|11||December 31, 1988||Peach Bowl||Iowa||W 28-23|
|12||December 31, 1989||Copper Bowl||Arizona||L 10-17|
|13||December 28, 1990||All-American Bowl||Southern Miss||W 31-27|
|14||January 1, 1992||Peach Bowl||East Carolina||L 34-37|
|15||December 31, 1992||Gator Bowl||Florida||L 10-27|
|16||January 1, 1994||Hall of Fame Bowl||Michigan||L 7-42|
|17||January 1, 1995||Peach Bowl||Mississippi State||W 28-24|
|18||December 29, 1998||Micron PC Bowl||Miami (FL)||L 23-46|
|19||December 28, 2000||MicronPC.com Bowl||Minnesota||W 38-30|
|20||December 20, 2001||Tangerine Bowl||Pittsburgh||L 19-34|
|21||January 1, 2003||Gator Bowl||Notre Dame||W 28-6|
|22||December 22, 2003||Tangerine Bowl||Kansas||W 56-26|
|23||December 31, 2005||Meineke Car Care Bowl||South Florida||W 14-0|
|24||December 29, 2008||PapaJohns.com Bowl||Rutgers||L 23-29|
|25||December 28, 2010||Champs Sports Bowl||West Virginia||W 23-7|
|26||December 27, 2011||Belk Bowl||Louisville||W 31-24|
|27||December 31, 2012||Music City Bowl||Vanderbilt||L 24-38|
|28||December 26, 2014||St. Petersburg Bowl||UCF||W 34-27|
|29||December 30, 2015||Belk Bowl||Mississippi State||L 28-51|
|30||December 26, 2016||Independence Bowl||Vanderbilt||W 41-17|
|31||December 29, 2017||Sun Bowl||Arizona State||W 52-31|
|32||December 31, 2018||Gator Bowl||Texas A&M||L 13-52|
|33||January 2, 2021||Gator Bowl||Kentucky||L 21-23|
NC State rankings in final AP and Coaches polls.
|Year||Record||Final AP Poll Rank||Final Coaches Poll Rank|
From 1891 until 1907, the school's first teams played on the open fields that surrounded campus, either at Pullen Park, at the old North Carolina State Fairgrounds or on the farm tracts on the "other" side of the railroad tracks. In 1907, faculty members, alumni and students began collecting money to enclose a large tract of land behind the Main Building that would become the home of the football and baseball teams. The Aggies played their first game there against Randolph Macon, recording a 20-0 win. Wooden grandstands slowly rose on the site, and it was named Riddick Field in 1912, after popular professor W.C. Riddick, who is remembered as the father of athletics at the school.
Although Riddick Stadium was considered obsolete as early as the 1950s, it wasn't until 1966 that Riddick was replaced with a much more modern stadium. It was named Carter Stadium in honor of Harry C. & Wilbert J. "Nick" Carter, both graduates of the university. They were major contributors to the original building of the stadium. In 1979, it became Carter-Finley Stadium, named after Albert E. Finley, another major philanthropist and contributor to the university. The stadium's seating capacity is 57,583.
Carter-Finley has been the home to some of the school's most decorated athletes: Gerald Warren, Dennis Byrd, the Buckey twins (Don and Dave), ACC-career rushing leader Ted Brown, Joe McIntosh, Erik Kramer, Jamie Barnette, Torry Holt, ACC-passing leader Philip Rivers, NFL No. 1 pick Mario Williams, and Russell Wilson.
On October 8, 2016, NC State celebrated its 50th season at Carter-Finley Stadium with a dramatic 10-3 win over Notre Dame Fighting Irish in the driving rain in the middle of Hurricane Matthew. NC State boasted a 2-0 record against the Fighting Irish, winning both of their meetings up to that time by a combined score of 38-9. In both games, Notre Dame had yet to score a touchdown against the Wolfpack.
Since the 1960s, the Wolfpack has been represented at athletic events by its mascots, Mr. and Ms. Wuf. In print, the 'Strutting Wolf' is used and is known by the name 'Tuffy.' In September 2010, a purebred Tamaskan Dog became the new live mascot.
North Carolina leads 68-36-6 through the 2020 season. Since the formation of the ACC in 1953, North Carolina leads the series 36-31, and NC State holds a 12-9 series advantage since 2000. While being members of separate divisions in the Atlantic Coast Conference, the two teams are designated as cross-over rivals, and thus play each other every year. The two teams will next play during the 2021 season in Raleigh.
NC State leads 67-41-6 through the 2020 season. Both NC State and Wake Forest are members of the Atlantic Division of the Atlantic Coast Conference, and thus play each other every year. The game holds the distinction as the longest continuous rivalry between 2 ACC schools, and after the 2020 football season the rivalry will become the longest current streak in the nation (as the Wisconsin/Minnesota game which has been played every year since 1907 is not being played in 2020). NC State and Wake Forest have played consecutively every year since 1910.
Clemson leads 59-28-1 through the 2019 season. Both NC State and Clemson are members of the Atlantic Division of the Atlantic Coast Conference, and thus play each other every year. The two teams will next play during the 2021 season in Raleigh.
NC State leads 18-13 with the last game played in 2019. The NC State and East Carolina rivalry dates back to the first meeting between the two schools in 1970, when they began playing on an annual basis which lasted until 1987. The two teams will next play during the 2022 season in Greenville. NC State has beaten ECU by a combined score of 92-9 in the last 2 meetings (2018 and 2019).
All records per NC State Athletics.
NC State has retired or honored the jersey number of 11 former players.
|9 +||Mario Williams||DE||2003-2005|
|16 +||Russell Wilson||QB||2007-2010|
+ Honored but still available jersey numbers. Future players wearing these numbers will have a patch recognizing former players.
Six former NC State players have been inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as of 2018.
Announced schedules as of November 9, 2020.
|South Florida||at East Carolina||VMI||Western Carolina||East Carolina||at Vanderbilt||at Texas Tech||at East Carolina||Notre Dame||at BYU||at Notre Dame||at Florida|
|at Mississippi State||Charleston Southern||at UConn||Louisiana Tech||at Louisiana Tech||Florida||Vanderbilt||at Cincinnati||at South Carolina||South Carolina|
|Furman||Texas Tech||Notre Dame||at South Florida||Campbell||Campbell||Charlotte||at Charlotte|
|Louisiana Tech||UConn||Cincinnati||BYU||at Notre Dame|