Monday, November 20, 2017
First Black Coach at UCLA Terminated
Published December 6, 2007

Now the question is will a Black coach be considered for his replacement

After completing another season of highs and lows, UCLA decided this week to terminate its first Black head football coach Karl Dorrell after five seasons at the helm.

Dorrell, once a popular player at UCLA in the 1980’s, finished his coaching career with a 35-27 record and just one victory over rival USC.

He was hired after influential UCLA alumni persuaded athletic director Dan Guerrero to name him as a replacement for Bob Toledo, although Dorrell had no previous head coaching experience and inherited a UCLA program in shambles, lacking talent and character.

Dorrell managed to restore character to the program, but failed in decision-making during games, frustrating the alumni and Bruin fan base.

UCLA began the 2007 season with much promise, even being ranked as high as No. 11 in the nation. But after a 44-6 blowout loss to unheralded Utah and a home loss to previously winless Notre Dame, it was just a matter of time before a change would be made. UCLA finished the season at 6-6.

He was offered to coach the team’s final game in the Las Vegas Bowl against BYU on Dec. 22 by Guerrero, but respectfully declined saying, “The game should be about the players, especially the seniors.”

The firing of Dorrell lowers the number of Black head football coaches in Division I to just five, and while UCLA defensive coordinator DeWayne Walker will serve as interim coach for the bowl game, he is not likely to replace Dorrell.

Walker is being mentioned as a leading candidate for the Washington State post, but retaining Walker, as well as receivers coach Eric Scott, is critical to UCLA because of how it could affect their incoming recruiting class as some may want to be released from their National Letter of Intent to attend UCLA.

If not for Walker or Scott, a former Crenshaw assistant, most of the recruits would have gone elsewhere, leaving the Bruins to pick from whatever talent USC did not sign.

There wasn’t much of an outcry behind Dorrell’s firing because many didn’t believe that he was the most qualified Black-coaching candidate available, but for UCLA he was the least expensive. Dorrell will receive a $2 million buyout on his contract that was expended at the end of last season.

There are six Black head coaches in the NFL, but in major college football it has been an old boys network where Blacks are seldom interviewed for openings let alone considered for hire.

But in this case, Dorrell was let go not because of race, but because he could not keep the Bruins on par with USC and competitive in the talent rich Pac-10 conference.

Categories: Football

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