NC State is very upset about the Holiday Bowl's cancellation.
The Wolfpack were slated to play UCLA on Tuesday but the game was canceled about six hours before kickoff when UCLA got the results of its last round of pregame COVID-19 tests. The tests showed that the Bruins wouldn't be able to play the game and it was called off before teams began their pregame preparations.
Since UCLA was the team that was forced to back out of the game, NC State wants credit for the win. The Wolfpack were entering the Holiday Bowl at 9-3 and a bowl game win would mean the school's first 10-win season since 2002. And while NC State is going to give itself credit for the win, the NCAA is officially declaring the Holiday Bowl a no-contest. That means NC State is officially finishing the season at 9-3 per the NCAA's record books.
That's not sitting well with NC State coach Dave Doeren. After the team arrived back in Raleigh on Wednesday evening, he said that the NCAA acronym stood for "No Clue At All" when it came to not giving NC State credit for the win.
Dave Doeren (@StateCoachD) on the NCAA not ruling the Holiday Bowl as a forfeit: “The NCAA stands for No Clue At All in my opinion. I don't really care what they say about it.” pic.twitter.com/SYjD5J3Tq4
— Pack Pride (@PackPride) December 29, 2021
"The NCAA stands for No Clue At all in my opinion, so I don't really care what they say about it," Doeren said. "... As far as I'm concerned, we did beat them."
Doeren earned $50,000 with a win
Doeren has some financial reasons to be upset with the decision to call the game a no contest. His contract with NC State awards an escalating $50,000 bonus when the team gets to eight wins. Eight wins is $50,000 for Doeren. Nine is $100,000. Ten is $150,000.
So if NC State officially beat UCLA on Tuesday night, Doeren is $50,000 richer. That's a big chunk of change to a lot of us. To Doeren, it's less than 2% of his base salary. He gets paid over $3.5 million per season. It's not as significant to him as it is to 99% of the country's population.
Of course, the financial impact may not be the primary reason or any reason at all that Doeren is upset. But NC State's pettiness over the last two days has been a bit odd. We're in a pandemic, after all.
UCLA had no incentive to force the game's cancellation and leave NC State hanging. The Pac-12 (and UCLA) miss out on the money the Holiday Bowl pays out if the game isn't played. And contagious viruses can spread from one day to the next. It shouldn't be too surprising at this point that COVID-19 spreads among people who spend considerable time together between rounds of testing.
NC State has every right to be annoyed and upset that it flew across the country over the Christmas holiday for a game that was ultimately canceled hours before it was supposed to start. But there are better ways to handle the cancellation. No other members of a team impacted by a bowl game cancellation this season or last have acted the way NC State and Doeren have this week.
But hey, at least NC State got to take the Holiday Bowl trophy home.