What is it that motivates Dorrell supporters?
I'm not being glib. Really, what motivates Dorrell supporters?
Because, frankly, I just don't get it. After one, two, three, or even four years, maybe I sorta understand. But, now, given all we've seen, who are these people? And what motivates them to actually go out of their way to defend Dorrell?
Before I go on, let me make a distinction. I'm not talking about folks who support Dorrell or the university in the general sense. Believe it or not, before Salt Lake City, I was rooting for Dorrell to prove me wrong, and bring home a Pac-10 title. I genuinely hope the best for the guy, despite my misgivings about his performance as UCLA's head football coach.
But I'm not talking about that kind of support. I'm talking about Dorrelistas. The denizens of certain message boards who expend considerable energy defending their man in the face of overwhelming evidence against them. The fans who would give their first born to keep KD at UCLA. Folks that have turned cognitive dissonance into an art form. The subset of UCLA fandom that, despite presumably having a UCLA education, still are behind Dorrell all the way to the end.
It's those folks I don't understand. What's their dog in this hunt? No one just has a deep love affair with mediocrity, so it must be something else, right? And, it seems like a fair question, since the Dorrellistas have already so clearly identified what motivates KD's critics (hatred, racism, pantism, etc.)
Fortunately, I'm a curious fellow, so I thought I'd take a stab at figuring out what makes these people tick. After a ton of research, I was able to put my fingers on something that provides a few possible explanations. Below is an excerpt from an essay by the preeminent Dr. Wiydahell, that examines rabid Dorrell supporters in some detail. According to the good doctor:
The Kingdom of college sports fandom is replete with a myriad of fascinating species. The paper examines the newly discovered Dorrelista Delusionista, commonly known as a Dorrellista, who are vocal supporters of UCLA head football coach Karl Dorrell. Unknown to science before 2003, members of this genus demonstrate a number of characteristics, in many ways similar to the Lavinista Swineista, that require examination.
Dr. Wiydahell goes on to identify the known species of Dorrellista. His paper is somewhat dry and scientific, so I borrowed his categories and adapted his conclusions using less formal language. Dr. Wiydahell, if I've mischaracterized your work, please let me know, and I'll happily make some changes. Anyway, here it goes:
The Dorrellista includes the following species:
- The Nitwits. It just can't be that anyone really thinks he's the best coach for the job. That is, at least not anyone with a minimally functioning intellect. Even giving him the greatest possible benefit of the doubt, he's at most a nice man, whose matured somewhat after four years on the job, into a mediocre to average college football coach. And he has a number of laudable qualities, including a good memory of birthdays and a semi-low handicap. But, honestly, if you really think he's the best coach UCLA could attract, I'm surprised you were able to read this far. And that you haven't fallen down recently. But, I've seen the message boards. Some people can't harness facts, and spit in the face of reason and logic. And that, according to Mr. Wiydahell, makes up 5% of Dorrellistas.
- The Dependents. We're not talking about Dorrell's kids here. We're talking about the people who are dependent upon access to the program for their livelihood in various ways. This species includes members of the athletic administration and the professional writers, reporters and service providers who need to maintain a good relationship with the coaching staff to get that story, that interview, or that contract. Access is key. Intellectual honesty is secondary. According to voluminous scientific research, this makes up another 5% of Dorrellistas.
- The Hangers On. If you've been to a Bruin practice, you've seen some of these guys. Maybe middle-aged, maybe older. Probably dressed sort of shabbily. Could be sporting a notebook. Might be employed, might not. Seems to know many of the other folks sharing a similar description. Drops names. Talks loudly, particularly when mentioning something he was told "on the down-low" by someone "in the know." Chums it up with the players after practices; players humor them awkwardly, as a small child does to an overly affectionate aunt. I won't say these folks are the dead wood of society, but maybe they've constructed a warm little alternate family for themselves. Of course, these guys love Dorrell. Because, you know, you can't say anything bad about dad, er... ah... Dorrell, without getting some comeup'ns. 5% of Dorrellistas.
- The Loyalists. This segment takes an honorable trait to the extreme. I'd be proud to share a fox hole with any one of them. But, for some, loyalty is perverted into a sort of obsession. For these folks, there is no acceptable form of dissent. There is no constructive criticism (you traitors). It's just root, root, root for the home team. And, if you don't, you aren't a real fan. Dorrell's the coach, and there's only one thing to do: give him your (blind) support. Curiously, the Loyalist fails to understand that, if anyone, the university (who pays KD millions), and not Karl Dorrell the man, deserves their loyalty, and that a change might serve the common good. These folks, according to Dr. Wiydahell, make up 10%.
- The Hopeless Romantics. Yes, these are mostly men. But, these are men that like to cry. And love Meg Ryan movies. You see, Karl (it's "Karl" to the emotionally invested) is such a nice fellow. He's also handsome, and has represented the university so well by cleaning things up... er, except, that is, when he opened up his heart to give that nice young man Eric Scott a second chance. (Cue the music.) And, in a world gone mad (spoken in movie trailer guy voice), against all odds, and in the face of bad nasty critics who have the gall to demand sustained competence in exchange for millions of public dollars, the underdog Dorrell might -- just might-- turn in a miracle seasons and prevail! Or so 5% of Dorrellistas hope.
- The Eternal Optimists. The cup isn't half full. It runneth over. You see, this is going to be the year. Or it's a whole new season now (following another Utah-esque loss), and the Pac-10 title is ripe for the taking. And none of the glaring problems, be they poor in-game adjustments, or revolving door assistants, are going to harsh these folks' feel-good buzz. Memories are short with this crowd, and history is a waste of time. The season is just getting started, and we have a feeling that this might just be our year!!! Sadly, this 5% of Dorrellistas are deluded by optimism, and sentenced to years of disappointment.
- The Risk Averse. These timid souls might be called pessimists, but they really fear risk. They are often spotted in dead-end jobs, squandering their innate talents. They trudge through life in fear of instability, and huddle closely to the shallow security born of routine. The bird in the hand matters most, and that bush is, well, sorta dark and scary. These Dorrellista fear change, and are quick to point out the perceived catastrophes awaiting any coaching change. Lost recruits. Unhappy players. The disruption caused by new coaching philosophies. Sadly, a third tier bowl game loss is better than facing the risk of a new coach to these 10% of Dorrellistas.
- The Easily Pleased. The coach tried hard. And, we did win more than 7 games a couple years ago. And let's not forget 13-9. That's one win in four tries! Yes, this group, perhaps the largest segment of Dorrellista, suffers from a crippling inability to demand more of life. Quick to brand others as having "unreasonable expectations," this group formed a prominent wing of the Committee to Save Steve Lavin. In basketball, these folks told us that Sweet Sixteens were enough, and to dare to dream of Final Fours was absurd. They tell us now that there are 118 other Division I schools, and that we have no right to seek more than top half finishes in the Pac-10 and a once-in-a-decade run at something more. These people are mostly blind to the tradition and natural advantages of UCLA, and wield a distorted notion of equivalence that somehow says that the Bruins should expect to fare no better than the Minnesota's of the world. So says 20% of Dorrellistas.
- The Futurists. These folks don't write science fiction novels. But they are transfixed by the future. So, while this year may not be the year for [fill in the reason], UCLA is going to be unstoppable in 2010! A curious bunch, this group first displays a tendency to become Futurists in college, perfecting procrastination, and later, by honing an unholy command of the status of the 2009 recruiting class. Here and now is for losers. It's the future that will bring us all we need. Just have patience, my friend. One January not so far off, this 5% of Dorrellistas believe, we will be taking our flying cars to the Rose Bowl.
- The Excusers. The dog ate these guys' homework. And that promotion didn't come because their boss was "out to get them". It wasn't fair. If only I'd gotten a good night sleep, I would have come up with that idea and won the account. But that damn cat kept me awake, and the .... oh, you get the idea. To this crowd, Dorrell is simply a victim of the resurgence of USC, the injuries to SPJ/Harwell/Cowan and [fill in the blank], the screw-ups by those darned assistant coaches, the inexcusable errors by Johnny-just-thrown-under-the-bus at [fill in the blank] position, and the unreasonable expectations of fans who don't realize what they are doing impedes recruiting and makes the players sad. This accounts for 10% of Dorrellista.
- The Cultists. It doesn't take purple shrouds or brand new black-and-white Nike tennis shoes to pick these sad souls out of the crowd. Just look for someone who refers to KD as "the Dorrell," eats little more than low protein gruel, and forces others to sit before the circle of judgment. Their great Leader, unassailable in the eyes of these deluded few, holds terrible influence over the easily suggestible minds of this species of Dorrellista. But, why have a successful football program, when you can have flying saucers, space opera and a lifetime of devotion to the Dorrell. Use caution if you ever find yourself in the company of these sad creatures (and their lawyers are no doubt contacting SBN to have this post removed already), as the unpredictable madness of this 5% of Dorrellista chills the soul.
- The Contrarians. There's always a few of these guys around. You know, the ones that purposefully take the other side of any argument just, well, because. For these folks, a unifying philosophy, or meaningful standards aren't just unnecessary, they are a hinderance to being a royal pain in the ass. Not blessed with meaningful social skills, the Contrarian obtains responses in social interactions by being a tool. Not to be a devil's advocate, but to get attention. This species is 73% more likely than other Dorrell supporters to engage in flame wars on BN, and create multiple accounts from the same IP address after being banned. Regrettable for all of us, this is 5% of Dorrellistas.
- Trojans. Who is it that populates that portion of UCLA opinion polls who say that a .500 season meets minimum expectations? Yep, Karl Dorrell's biggest fans, our friends at Southern Cal. The enemy of your enemy is your friend, or so says this group of Dorrell boosters. Go to any USC message board you like, and take a gander. Sure, you'll see some gamers who want a real rivalry, but mostly you'll see snarky voices in support of KD from his biggest "fans." This is the final 10% of Dorrellistas.
P.S. This is obviously a joke, but in case any there are any overly sensitive Dorrellista's in the building, just know that I keed, at least sort of...