"Substantial talent"

That's part of the subheadline of Lonnie White's UCLA preview.

This should just about put all those Blindo arguments to rest.  I know, I know, there are new excuses to create!

If winning records were decided only by talent, UCLA would finish well above .500 this season.

Tight end Marcedes Lewis, running back Maurice Drew, kicker Justin Medlock and linebacker Spencer Havner are award candidates, and center Mike McCloskey, safety Jarrad Page, defensive end Justin Hickman and linebacker Justin London are on national "to watch" lists at their positions.

[snip]

After the Bruins improved to second in the Pacific 10 Conference in rushing and third in scoring and yards a play last season, Coach Karl Dorrell predicted a "lights out" 2005.

"It's all about efficiency for us," running back coach Eric Bieniemy said. "We have guys who have been in the system now for a number of years. We expect them to go out and execute. ... Last year, we were great at times, and then we would fall off. Our goal is to be the most consistent team. We do that, everything will take care of itself."

Three-year starter Drew Olson will open at quarterback against the Aztecs

[snip]

Drew Olson has started 26 games for the Bruins and has passed for 5,334 yards. But he's coming off major knee surgery and has yet to win a big game.

Emphasis mine

Reread Nestor's Thursday post.  

Lonnie White has another story, suggesting that Dorrell is On the Clock.  In other words, Win 9 or Resign.  Lonnie may really have broken through with this piece.  Apparently, he tired of being fed Morgan Center propaganda.  We certainly don't blame him.

At first glance, not much has changed with UCLA's football program since Athletic Director Dan Guerrero hired Karl Dorrell to replace Bob Toledo as head coach.

The Bruins finished 7-5 after interim coach Ed Kezirian guided them to a victory in the 2002 Las Vegas Bowl. Two years later, they were 6-6 after a defeat in the same bowl game.

And most experts are forecasting a similar middle-of-the-Pacific 10 Conference finish this year.

So where's the improvement?

That's what some impatient UCLA supporters would like to know. Whispers of discontent heard toward the end of last season could become a call for another change at the top if the Bruins have another mediocre season.

Lonnie, the sounds of discontent aren't exactly whispers.  Certainly, Dorrell's "achievements" don't meet Athletic Director Dan Guerrero's stated requirement that UCLA be "a national caliber program here, certainly top 25 every year." (Emphasis added.)

Lonnie also cites a "player from UCLA teams in the 1970s" who was unhappy with the team's woeful performance in the Arizona State, Washington State, and Wyoming games last year.  Additionally, he talked to "the parent of a recent Bruin" who agrees that the coaching staff should be feeling heat.  

Bruins Nation even gets some love:

There has even been a Fire Karl Dorrell blog that began last October, one entry pointing to the coach's 1-10 record against teams above .500. Another reads: "KD must win at a minimum nine games next year, or be immediately fired."

As with most reporters, Lonnie feels the need to be balanced, which is understandable.  But he turns to the ultimate underachiever, Terry Donahue, who respectfully disagrees with your humble bloggers:

People saying things like that really don't understand. I don't think it is an informed opinion.

"That mentality comes from people who want that instant gratification. ... You have to be patient and give a coach opportunity to establish his program, and I think Karl is doing a good job

No, Coach Donahue, it's you who is uninformed.  We have cited statistic after statistic.  Speaking of statistics, how long did it take Donahue to win 9 games?  He did it in his first year, 1976, when the Bruins were 9-2-1.  True, the team went 0-11 in his second year, but in Donahue's third year, the Bruins went 8-3-1 and earned a Fiesta Bowl berth.

Might we also add that in Karl Dorrell failed to achieve a record above .500 in each of his first two years.  Only five times in the last 60 years has a UCLA coach recorded this dubious achievement.

And as we noted and Lonnie White reported following the embarassing Wyoming fiasco:

   Karl Dorrell has the worst record over his first two seasons at UCLA since Edwin C. Horrell went 7-9-4 in 1939-40. A look at how UCLA coaches have fared in their first two seasons since then:

    Coach Years Record Pct.
    * Bert LaBrucherie 1945-46 15-5 .750
    * Henry R. Sanders 1949-50 12-6 .667
    * William F. Barnes 1959-60 12-6-2 .650
    * Tommy Prothro 1965-66 17-3-1 .850
    * Pepper Rodgers 1971-72 10-10-1 .500
    * Dick Vermeil 1974-75 15-5-3 .717
    * Terry Donahue 1976-77 16-6-1 .727
    * Bob Toledo 1996-97 15-8 .652
    * Karl Dorrell 2003-04 12-13 .480


Dorrell contemplating his upcoming job search?/AP Photo

Meanwhile, Dan Guerrero is changing his tune from the one he was singing when he hired Dorrell, "Dorrell seems to have the support of his boss, Guerrero, who said: "One has to look at what the situation was when Karl came in. He didn't inherit necessarily a pat hand."

Not true, said Sports Illustrated, prior to the 2003 season:

When Karl Dorrell returned to his alma mater for the first time in 15 years as UCLA's new head coach, he found everything on campus rather intact -- including the football team. If Dorrell was expecting a massive rebuilding project, he was pleasantly surprised. The Bruins appear polished for Pac-10 contention.

CFN had this to say in 2003, which is also at odds with Guerrero's post hoc rationalization:

Part of what was forgotten about when Bob Toledo was fired from UCLA was how much young talent was on the team. Injuries and inexperience killed the Bruins, but Karl Dorrell will have as many raw athletes to work with as anyone in the country.

Emphasis added

Unfortunately, Guerrero seems to be buying the Blindo arguments, read more and you will see.  We're not going to repeat his nonsense at this point.  Part of an athletic director's job is supporting coaches up until the moment he fires them.  But that doesn't mean he has to repeat mindless drivel.

No more excuses.  Dorrell will be judged on this season, and at least he seems to realize it:

Things are really coming together, we almost have the complete puzzle now," he added. "We do have depth on both sides. We do have experience on both sides. Our defense is young, but it has some talent with speed and athleticism.

[snip]

Things are definitely on the upswing in the program.

They better be.  Read the whole thing.

Here's a Daily News feature on Nate Skaggs.  But the story today is that Dorrell is On the Clock.  Thanks Lonnie for this story.

Win 9 or Resign.  The clock really starts ticking on Saturday.

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