Karl Dorrell, UCLA Football, and the Roller Coaster Ride Through Hell
Let me start by saying J.A. Adande is my man. We’re tight. We go waaaaay back. And while I don’t agree with his Friday comments about Hip Hop on Around The Horn, I’m not condemning him. There are some extremely important issues to worry about and discuss like why most Black American Democrats (according to the polls) seem to be supporting Hillary Clinton over Barack Obama.
Am I down with Hillary? No doubt. Was I down with William H.? No doubt. And I know it’s history one way or another, but wow. When we say “Endangered Species” in America, we speak of the Black man, not the white woman. And we have the chance to elect a Black man to the most powerful post in the world. This will be monumental in so many ways. But I digress…
This is really about My
Life 4.5 Years as a UCLA Football Fan.Let me preface this with the statement that I never cared about UCLA Football before Karl Dorrell got there. I went to UCLA and I’m on campus a few times per week but I was always about the Miami Hurricanes, exclusively. However, when new Athletic Director Dan Guerrero dubbed Dorrell the heir apparent to Bob Toledo’s throne before the 2003 season, I was thrilled. Gooooooo Bruins! And boy has it been a ride. Quite a ride, in fact. So much so that every time I attempt to make heads or tails of this situation, I lose my mind. So, let’s leave the past three seasons out of the equation and just speak about this one.
Stanford was the first victim for this year’s Bruins, 45-17. BYU, winners of 11 in a row coming into UCLA’s home opener, was the second opponent. The Bruins rose to the occasion and beat the Cougars 27-17. Great start. 2-0, even though the BYU game was a struggle. So the next game, a road game at Utah, was supposed to be a blowout! Well, it was. Utes win 44-6, embarrassing UCLA and dropping it out of the Top 25.
For some, that was enough. That was the straw that broke the camel’s back. They wanted Dorrell fired at halftime. But, hey, I let everyone know that “the season does not one demoralizing loss destroy.” So, the Bruins held on against one of the truly great coaches (See Monday’s upcoming post, Charlie Weis: The
Right White Man for the Job / Ty Willingham: The Wrong Black Man for the Job), Tyrone Willingham, and his Washington Huskies (44-31). A thumping of up-and-coming Oregon State followed and, despite UCLA’s bad loss, the Bruins were 3-0 in the Pac-10 and searching for the Top 25 again.
In to the Rose Bowl marched the 0-4 Notre
Dame Shame Fighting Irish. 60 gut-wrenching football minutes later, the Bruins were left wondering where their offense had gone after a 20-6 loss. Sure, the 3rd-string quarterback played the majority of the game. And he had about 9 turnovers. But when you have a Redshirt Sophomore receiver on the sideline that was an option quarterback in high school, why not play him in favor of the Freshman walk-on that can’t even handle the snap? Who knows?
So after that game, everyone wanted Dorrell’s head. I, on the other hand, explained that the Bruins were cursed with playing under the level of its lesser competition and above and beyond its superior competition. Therefore, Cal would be in trouble two weeks later. And they were. UCLA won 30-21 to stay undefeated in the Pac-10 and in first place.
Unfortunately, my logic held true as UCLA lost the following week to Washington State, 27-7. I mentioned to friends and family that I would sell my remaining season tickets and refuse to renew until there was a change made. I know it seems extreme, but I couldn’t take it anymore. At 4-3, 3-1 (Pac-10), UCLA still had a shot at the Pac-10 Championship and a BCS berth.
Even though I still felt that UCLA would beat USC, Oregon, and Arizona State, I feared the worst might happen against Arizona. And it did.
The Bruins lost again, on Saturday, 34-27. They are now a .500 team (4-4) with two conference losses (3-2) and, therefore, control their own destiny and will probably win the Pac-10. But they will remain un-ranked even if that happens. It’s just embarrassing and I’m finally compelled to say something. I’ve been Dorrell’s biggest supporter though the early successes and the late stumbles and now I’m done. I wish him well but I don’t think this is the job for him at this time. I naively still hope that he proves me wrong, somehow, some way.
Notre Dame is now 1-8 and could very well lose every remaining game this season. And, by the way, look out or my exclusive interview with J.A. Adande early next week. Reserve judgment on my fam until then. Peace.