Karl Dorrell is not as bad as some of his critics are making him out to be. But he certainly is not one of the best coaches either. I don't think that even his supporters can honestly say that he is one of the top coaches in the country.
Dorrell is like a stock broker who picks a bad stock for every good one. For every Google IPO he recommends, he puts you into Enron at the top. For every impressive win like the one against USC last year, there seems to be a what-the-*%&$ loss against a miserable team like Notre Dame this year.
After five years, you look at your portfolio and see that it has grown about 5% a year. Not horrible. But you think that you should be doing better. So you go to your brokerage and ask for a different stock broker. But they say that your broker is honest, he runs a "clean program," he works hard, etc. You say, great, that's fine, you appreciate him for those qualities, but you don't want to replace him because those are the issues. You just expect a better return on your money.
Dorrell should be praised for cleaning up the program. It's very important that the football program does not bring disgrace to the university. So we thank coach Dorrell for that. But there are probably dozens of professors at UCLA, if they were given Dorrell's job, who could have also cleaned up the program. We need a coach who can run a clean AND top-notch program. It's like wanting a baseball player who can field well AND hit well.
We want someone who can challenge for the national championship (like Ben Howland and Pete Carroll), not struggle to make it into the top 25.
Of course, there are many schools that would be content with just getting into the top 25. But UCLA isn' t one of them. Not with all the talented players who are willing to be Bruins. Given all the resources and reputation of an institution such as UCLA, a great football coach can achieve so much more than just a top 25 ranking. That would be like finishing in the middle of the pack with a great race car.
Going back to the stock broker example... You ask for a different broker, and they accuse you of racism because your broker is African-American. You say, no, that's not the reason at all. You want a different broker so that you can get a better return. You would want to replace him even if he is white, Latino, Asian, or whatever his ethnicity may be. In fact, you wouldn't mind at all if you got another African-American stock broker, as long as he is excellent.
Bob Toledo, Steve Lavin, as well as a number of other white coaches have been fired at UCLA. Their ethnicity did not "protect" them from being replaced. DeWayne Walker is praised and respected for his coaching (deservedly so) "even though" he is an African-American.
It's not about race. It's about performance.
Does racism exist in this world? Of course. Who knows, maybe some of Dorrell's critics are racially motivated. I can only speak for myself when I say that it's not about race.
Personally, I would love to see an African-American replace Dorrell. Not that he would apply, but if Tony Dungy wants the UCLA job, we would welcome him with open arms.
Some people say that Dorrell's replacement may turn out be even worse than him. Maybe. Hiring coaches is an inexact science. But that excuse is like saying that you will marry someone you don't really love because you are not sure you'll meet someone better. That's ridiculous.
We may have to go through several coaches before finding someone like Pete Carroll. That's what USC did. They went through a number of coaches and many frustrating years (ask any Trojan fan) before they ran into Carroll. The important thing is that they didn't settle for mediocrity, didn't give up, but persevered in a search for the best. They could have easily settled for one of the mediocre coaches they had. If they did, that means no Carroll, no national championships, no Pac-10 domination.
If we settle for Dorrell, that means no national championships, no Pac-10 domination.
There is no reason why UCLA football cannot to be at USC's level. The only significant difference between the two programs is with the head coaches. If Dorrell is at USC and Carroll is at UCLA, Bruins will be going to a BCS bowl every year and Trojan fans will be running dumpdorrell.com.
USC fans may boast that they have a greater football tradition and that is the difference. Well, that didn't matter in the 90's when UCLA was beating USC eight years in a row. Tradition isn't keeping Nebraska from falling into an abyss. Tradition didn't put Missouri on top (for this week, anyway).
Does tradition matter? Sure. But, to state the obvious, the head coach matters so, so much more.
Coach Dorrell seems like a good man. He has shown great character while dealing with all the criticism and adversity. I don't think that any fair-minded person can dislike him as a human being. Mean-spirited personal attacks against him are quite unfair.
And he isn't a bad football coach. He will surely land on his feet and find a good job in football if and when his tenure ends at UCLA. We thank him for all his hard work, the great wins, and wish him well.
It's just that we want a greater return from our football program.