We came in slightly late
to the teleconference, so we pick it up near the beginning.
Karl Dorrell's comments:
"....He's ready to take on
the responsibility. He has great training, and he's excited about his challenge
and opportunity here at UCLA."
Karl, he'll call the plays?
How far did you get along in the process of you being the offensive coordinator?
"That was a part of the process for a long period of time. I thought about that heavily, after the bowl game, and really going through and talking to the offensive coaches, and evaluating everything we have, what are our strengths and weaknesses, what's best for the program type of thing. So it was a long, thought-out process that that was a possibility, but I think in the end this was the best for the program to make its step forward and to continue to build and mount the great season this year, given the experience we have coming back. So it's an exciting year for 2007, and we have good faith in the offense, and I'm sure he's going to do a nice job."
Looking at what Nebraska did, he seems to have a knack for both pass and run, a pretty well-balanced attack...
"We like balance. You have to have the ability to run the football and pass, and to go into a program that has not really been one with a passing background and then put up type of passing numbers they were able to do shows me quickly about his abilities with this offense. So he has great training. We anticipate for us to continue to improve as an offense and do some great things with the experience we have coming back."
He also seemed not to neglect the running game...
"No question. That's part of it. You have to have the balance, being able to run the ball effectively and to throw it. That's something he's been able to do at Nebraska pretty well. They did a nice job. I think they were among the top five offensive categories they were in the top five in most. So, he did a nice job distributing the football to their key people and being productive at both their throwing game and their rushing game. So they did a tremendous job."
Is the lack of experience in game-planning and play-calling much of an issue?
"No. He did most of the game-planning. That was his responsibility. Everything you can hope a candidate to have he has to be qualified for this particular opportunity. He was the principle guy in orchestrating everything, doing all the meetings and putting all the installations in, and doing the scripting. So he's been very well trained for this next opportunity. Almost the way that I felt about DeWayne (Walker) a year ago. Many were concerned about whether he was ready to be a defensive coordinator and obviously he proved he was ready for that. I would say this is similar. Actually I would say Jay probably has more training than what DeWayne had, and should have the same type of success doing it on his own."
How critical was it that the OC have experience in the West Coast Offense?
"It's important. That's the foundation of what we do. That you understand the foundation of the offense, and we're just trying to continue to make it grow and mature, and get as good as it can be. I was fortunate enough to find a guy that has a similar background."
The financial aspects of it...
"We're not going to comment about it at this time. But I'm sure you guys we'll find out."
I'm sure. Without saying what the figure is, but it was obvious last year that Dan Guerrero helped out and you guys did some things for the assistants. Knowing what Jay had made at Nebraska, is it safe to say that the administration helped out with this again?
"No question. That's what Dan Guerrero has allowed for me to do to keep building this program, in hiring the quality people necessary for us to be successful, and to do that you have to be able to make it attractive. So the responsibility for helping this hire is Dan Guerrero. For everyone to understand it, we're putting that type of investment into football, and we're trying to get ourselves back into a position that we once were before. This is a great way of showing we're on our way in doing so."
Do you think it's significant, as an African American head coach, that you now have two African American coordinators? Do you think it reflects progress and UCLA's commitment?
"I definitely evaluated it by hiring the best guy for UCLA. That's the way that I looked at it.. It wasn't the secondary ramifications for him to be a minority coach. He was the best guy out there that had the best understanding of this offensive system on the college level. I think that was something I visited about that you guys mentioned three years ago. I was able to get a deal struck this particular time. He happens to be a minority coach, and that's the other part. UCLA has always been on the cutting edge of doing things like this. We really don't bat an eye about this. You guys know this. It's all about getting the best coaches in a position to help our team be as good as it can be, and I think that's the direction we're headed."
When will Coach Norvell start working at UCLA?
"Sometime in the middle of next week. He'll get things wrapped up back there and he'll be back here soon."
Any other changes on the staff, particularly offensively?
"It's hard to say. Things have happened in the past. You have to be ready for anything and everything. I have to be on guard for any forseeable thing that could happen. We have another week and a half for recruiting, and that's really our focus right now. We got the offensive coordinator on board. What ever happens from this point forward...I wouldn't be surprised. Anything can happen."
When do you expect a decision from Jim Colletto?
"I don't know. He's really torn. He has opportunities, and obviously there is the attraction of coaching in the NFL, but he has a great attraction doing what he did here at UCLA last year. He's mulling it over. That's really what's going on right now. That's all I can say."
"First of all, I'm extremely excited coming to be coming to UCLA, and to working with Coach Dorrell, to represent such a fine university with a tremendous tradition. I've always had phenomenal respect for the the great offensive players that have played at the school, and the history of the football program. I've very excited to be a part of it. One of the things we've been able to establish here at Nebraska in a short time is a pro-style attack that uses multiple (indistinguisable). One of the things as I come to UCLA, I'm going to be extremely demanding of these guys, and have the highest expectations for this offense."
What transpired a few years ago when you were interviewed for this job?
"I had some conversations with Karl. It was one of those things that we had a lot of similar philosophies. Our backgrounds were similar. His time at Denver was very similar to the structured offense we had at (indistinguisable). The style was a bit different, but similar with a lot of the base principles, formations, and the terminology is the same. I felt like we were on the same page in a lot of instances. The timing wasn't there at the time, but I'm really fortunate that it's there now."
Play-calling became an issue at UCLA last season, and Dorrell got more involved with it as the season wore on. What was your role in terms of play-calling at Nebraska, and how are you ready to be the guy in calling plays now?
"I've prepared my whole career to continue to gain more responsibility. I've had some play-calling experience early in my career at Iowa State, when I was assistant head coach and coached quarterbacks. We kind of shared the play-calling duties and I was there three years. Here at Nebraska, (Head Coach) Bill (Callahan) calls the plays, and we interacted. I gave him information he needed from the box, and he elaborated..."
The teleconference was cut off at this point, and then resumed.
Do you know much about UCLA's personnel or had time to do that?
"I have not. Just from what I've seen on television, but I haven't had a chance to study film. But I've talked to a lot of people that know their personnel, and I'm really excited about them. I think this is a hungry team that has some experience. I've talked in depth to Coach Dorrell about each player. I'm anxious to meet each player. I think it's a group that has potential. I think it's a group that's ready to take the next step. It's going to be a lot of hard work. It's not going to be easy. There are a lot of challenges in the Pac-10, and it's a challenging schedule. But we're energized by it. I'm energized by the fact that it's such a great opportunity, and I'm looking forward to getting started."
At Nebraska, while you brought the West Coast Offense there, you didn't neglect the running game, and it seemed like it was very well-balanced.
"Yes, sir. We take a lot of pride in that. The passing game, and the ball-control passing game, the ability to spread the ball over the field gets you a lot of notoriety, but we really believe in physical play. The ability to run the football is so critical, to opening up the passing game. That's one of the things that Coach Dorrell feels strongly about as well. Football starts up front. It starts by being physical. It starts by backs running hard. It starts by guys playing with extra effort. Those things never change, as long as the game's been played. Those are the things we'll start with, and those are the things we hung our hat on at Nebraska, especially this last year when we had a lot of success offensively. I think it will help our quarterbacks. I think the quarterbacks will appreciate the ability to be physical upfront and be able to run the ball. That's where things will start and we'll grow from there."
Are you going to have the ability to bring in some guys you want for the offensive staff?
"When I get up there next week with Coach Dorrell, we'll take a look at some different things. I'll let Coach Dorrell address those issues. We'll kind of have to see what happens with that. We'll have a chance to visit with that next week."
Do you know that much about the UCLA quarterbacks?
"I think there's a lot of talent at the position, and there will be great competition here in the spring. I haven't had a chance to study the quarterbacks, but from their reputations, it sounds like there's a lot of physical talent there. A lot of potential. The biggest thing about that position is guys have to operate without making mistakes. That's where everything starts. And they have to earn the respect of their teammates. We look for guys that are tough, number one, that can manage the football game, and that have talent. Those qualities are what we look for in a quarterback. We're going to challenge those guys to emulate those things. They have to play with great toughness, mental toughness, be able to manage the game, get the team in and out of situations, manage your clock, and to make all the throws. That's critical. You got to be able to make the throws and be accurate. Especially in this offense, the rhythm offense comes with accuracy of the quarterback. Those are the things we're going to ask those guys to do. I know there'll be competition, and we're looking forward to that, and we're anxious to work with that."