Karl Dorrell was too much of a Gentleman

. Tuesday, December 4, 2007
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Let the speculation over the reasons of Karl Dorrell's termination from UCLA begin. Some people across the courtry have started insinuating that Dorrell's firing was racially motivated. If so, Dorrell should have been gone after his first season in which he led the Bruins to a mediocre 6-7 season that was capped off by a loss to Fresno State in the Silicon Valley Bowl (I didn't know such a bowl existed). His most successful campaign came the following season when he led the Bruins to a 10-2 record capped off by a victory over the Northwestern Wildcats in the Sun Bowl. All in all, Dorrell compiled a remarkable 35-27 record during his tenure at UCLA. I can see why anyone would ever call Dorrell's release suspicious.

Enthusiasm was not a strong point in Dorrell's coaching technique. It was illustrated in the way the team played. Earlier this year, I had the torturous experience of watching a potentially good team self-destruct against a Notre Dame team that may have well been the worst team in its storied history. Two weeks before that, UCLA had lost to the Utah Utes, which had been winless up until then. Even though injuries played a role in the Bruins' subpar season, I doubt if having a healthy team on the field would have helped.

Getting the players (whether starting or coming of the bench) to buy into the notion of playing with passion every week is the job of a coach, and the lack of swagger and pride in the team showed on a regular basis under Dorrell. Time and time again, the team was clearly not prepared to take on an opponent that it should have beat down. Time and time again, UCLA couldn't handle the pressure of being on top and it folded.

Two years ago, when USC destroyed UCLA, 66-19, at the Los Angeles Coliseum, some players who are no longer playing for the Bruins, criticized Dorrell for not being urgent enough in his half time speech of that game. Many players said that he was quiet and that he showed no emotion. It was not because he was black.

Although Dorrell was a classy and likable guy, he just couldn't get the most out of his players. To echo the sentiments that I expressed earlier, I'm surprised that Dorrell lasted as long as he did. Now, people are trying to make race an issue when the man simply failed to do what he was paid to do. He established "character" and "stability," but those things do not win football games. If he had less of a conservative and gentlemanly approach and more of a killer's instinct to the game of football, then maybe it would be more of a contest between UCLA and their cross-town rivals, USC. Dorrell now knows that it does not pay to be nice on the grid iron.