Dorrell's Press Conference

Here are some exerpts from today's press conference when athletic director Dan Guerrero introduced Karl Dorrell as UCLA's new head football coach...

Introduction by Dan Guerrero:


"As I reflect back on being a student-athlete at UCLA, I was convinced that after a playing career here that I would go on to a distinguished major league career and find my way to the baseball hall of fame. Funny thing happened on my way to Cooperstown. It didn't work. But I continued to dream, work hard, and all of those efforts paid off, and I was able to come back home.


"Almost two decades ago, a young man from San Diego was recruited to play wide receiver and get an education here at UCLA. Like me, he probably thought about a long, distinguished career in professional football. Funny thing happened on his way to Canton. It didn't work out. But he perservered and worked hard, and did everything he needed to do to get back home.


"And we have Karl Dorrell back as our head football coach.


"Yesterday afternoon I made a phone call extending him the offer. It was the only offer that was made to any candidate. By late afternoon Karl had accepted. I know all of you will be requesting the contract, when the "i"s are dotted and the "t"s are crossed.  But clearly, the contract is six years in term, rollover. The compensation package is $600,000 plus, with camps and other benefits factored into that. Karl has the possibility of earning up to seven figures and beyond that with a very solid incentive package. We are very pleased to be able to offer that. It's the first time in the history of UCLA that a coach is able to make that kind of money here representing this university. We would certainly be delighted to pay it because it would mean we are doing great things on the football field.


"When I was asked about the quality I was seeking in a new coach, I spoke about things like fit, what was important to us in terms of bringing in the right kind of character, the right kind of conviction, and the right kind of leadership to this program. It didn't necessarily mean that I was going to get the most experienced coach, that I was going to get an individual that had many championships under his belt. What it meant is that I had to bring an individual here that was in the best interests of this program both short-term and long-term, someone who had great character, someone who is a fierce competitor, and someone who understood the rivalry across town, someone who's been on the battlefield and represented this university.  The other thing that we had on that list is – someone asked me – does he have to have head coaching experience. When you look at job announcements sometimes you see those preferred qualifications, that was kind of under the preferred qualifications, but it wasn't necessarily an absolute. The absolute for me was to get the right individual for this program.  Having gone through the process, there was no question in my mind who that individual was. Ladies and gentlemen, Karl Dorrell.


Karl Dorrell:  "I know there are a lot of alumni in here that have obviously crossed paths with my path the last time I was here. It's good to see that I have that type of support for this type of endeavor that I'm going to try to accomplish.  I'm excited. I'm privileged and honored, to be the new coach here. It's been a dream of mine. It's been something that I think when you're in the coaching profession you strive for, obviously elevating yourself in the profession, you work hard, you do all the necessary steps. Sometimes you have to move your family to make the right move. I've been in all of those circumstances. If I had to do it all over again, I'd do it the same way. This is an awesome opportunity that I have and I'm grateful for it. I have a lot to thank, and a debt of gratitude for my background, which began here. A lot of the support people that used  to work for this university are still here. I can see them in this room. And were part of me growing up as a student athlete. And it's very important that I see them here today, because this institution is a family. It's something that's been dear to my heart ever since I've been coaching. I'm very proud to be back and represent this institution. I'd like to thank Terry Donahue, who started me in the coaching profession. He saw it in me and asked me to coach one spring. He didn't have a receiver coach and I had just freshly graduated from the university.  I had a brief cup of coffee in the NFL and had come back. I was working with the administration at the time and he said, ‘Hey, Karl, I think you have the qualities it takes to be a good coach someday and really have a future.' It was something that wasn't in my mind at all at the time. But he saw something in me that obviously I didn't see. And he ended the statement in this discussion. He said, ‘You never know. You may be the UCLA head coach someday.' When he made that statement and it really stuck with me, as I began my road to coaching. I'm very thankful to him. I'm thankful to all of the coaches that have coached here in the past. There is a tradition here that is of extreme importance, that we still need to bring to the forefront with our young kids today. They need to understand the importance of this institution, that we have such great balance between athletics and academics. I'm a living testimony to that. I really enjoyed my experience here as a student athlete. I did the best I could as a student and as an athlete. I was very fortunate to be a part of some winning Rose Bowl teams. It was integral to the makeup of who I am today. It's very fortunate to be with some of these guys who are out here in the audience that are very supportive of this program and this institution. I'm proud to represent that. My goal is one thing, obviously. To re-establish our tradition and our integrity in the football program. Not that it hasn't been there before. But I just want to bring it to the front, instead of in the middle. I understand what it takes to play UCLA football. To shed your blood and tears on Spaulding Field and to come together and play for each other on that Saturday afternoon. I'm going to be a grass-roots kind of coach, very hands on. I believe in my players and they'll believe in me. I think the strengths of what I do is because I am a teacher. I approach the coaching profession from a comunication standpoint. And that really began with my position coach, Homer Smith, who was one of the best teachers of all. I think this opportunity to work for this institution is something UCLA has always been a cornerstone of.  They've always been a cornerstone in history in making decisions like this, where I am the first Black head coach at the University of California, Los Angeles.  That's just one of many cornerstone opportunities that have been made in the history of this institution. By no means, that's not the only reason I got this job. I got this job through hard work, integrity, the commitment I always give to my players, which is 100%.  I know my voice is cracking a little bit because I'm telling you how important this opportunity is, because it's obviously very dear to me. I'm very thankful for this opportunity. I will work my tail off to be the best coach I can possibly be for this institution, and I'm proud to be a Bruin, and proud to be back."


Q: How did you feel when you were informed you were the new UCLA head coach?


Dorrell [turns to Guerrero]: "Can I tell that story? Yesterday, in 28 degree weather I was on the practice field with the Denver Broncos. And when we got off the field I went straight to my office because obviously I wanted to hear the word of whether we're in it or we're not. And there was a message from Mr. Guerrero on my voice mail, in a very low-key voice, which was of concern for me. Because I thought, ‘Oh, I didn't get it.' He says, ‘Hey Karl, I'd like for you to call me back. I have to do something at 3:00 and I really like to touch base with you before that time.' And I'm like, ‘Oh.' But I called. And yesterday it was my birthday, by the way..."


Guerrero: "I knew that. I knew it was his birthday."


Dorrell: "So I called kind of disheartened. I was thinking he was going to let me down real slow here. He asked how practice was. I said it was good, it was cold. He then said, ‘How's your birthday going?' And I said, ‘It's okay, we're just trying to prepare for Oakland, moving forward.' And he said, ‘Well, this maybe will make your birthday a little better. I'd like you to be our next UCLA head coach.' And the first thing I said was, "Ah, this is awesome.' So I'm here today."


Q: Have you given some though to the staff you'll put together at UCLA?


"I'm going to consider a lot of people from the current staff here, along with some that are on my list of coaches that I would like to bring.  I don't want to speculate about any names or anything like that. Obviously my goal is to put together the best staff I can, to exude the qualities that are important to me: good communicators, guys that are well thought of in the profession, and really take to heart about having a relationship with their players."

Q: Will you be on the sidelines for the Las Vegas Bowl?


Dorrell" "No I won't."


Q: Is this a history making event?


"Yes it is. And by no means do I want to say that the one factor or one group of this whole system is less important than the other. But I don't want to be overshadowed by the fact that I believe in my abilities to be a head football coach. Obviously Mr. Guerrero feels the same way. I have great passion for the game. Great care. Great understanding. I've studied under some of the best people in the game. My current – or former – employer is one of the best coaches I've ever been with, Mike Shanahan. He's well-renowed in offensive football. I thought I knew a lot about football in my fourteen years of experience before coming to the Broncos, but he's light years beyond me. And that's an ongoing process in coaching I believe. You always get better as your years unfold. This is year 15 for me in coaching. That might not seem like a lot to some people, but 15 years in coaching is like dog years, it's like 33, in terms of your experience and how much time you put into it. There are now four Black head coaches in Division 1 football and I'm obviously very flattered by the opportunity. But by no means was this job given just because of that issue.  The issue was they wanted the best man for this institution and this program, and I believe I'm that person."


Q for Guerrero: What made you choose Dorrell over Mike Riley, when Riley was thought to be the leader?


Guerrero:  "There was a misconception because Mike Riley was the first individual we contacted that he was the leader for this position. As Bobby Field said, you don't always use your best player on the first down.  We went through a process. The process was to identify those individuals that I felt would best represent this university. We interviewed three individuals. There are other individuals out there. Individuals with a lot of head coaching experience, and all those kind of things. But this is a special, unique place. You don't just want to bring in any football coach who can win. If you remember, I said how you do things is just as important as how you produce. Karl Dorrell is an extremely impressive individual. He is the individual that very clearly was the right person for this job, pure and simple. I know what I want in my coach. I know what I want to see in my football program. I know how I want our student athletes to represent us. And I know Karl will be a positive reflection, not only for those student athletes, but for this entire university. So, it was very clear in my mind which direction we needed to go."


Q for Dorrell:  Did you ever think you were just getting token interest and a token interview?


Dorrell: "I think when this opportunity came to fruition, when they show an interest in me, I'm going after it. That's just my style. If someone is going to open the door for me to have an opportunity, particularly this opportunity, I'm going after it. So whether it was a token interview or not, my approach is I'm going to take this token interview and make it into a second interview.  Or whatever it took to get the job."


Q: Would you have hired you?


Dorrell: "I would have hired me on the spot. That's a very gutsy call. I'm not in Mr. Guerrero's shoes, but I'm glad he made this choice. If I were in his shoes, I think he made the right decision. I think he knew what was right for the program. And he had a vision of what this program needed. I was the one that exuded what the program needed. And I'm going to work my tail off for him. And just not for him, but for this great institution. I believe in it. I believe in the people who are in this room, that are in the athletic department. We're a family here and we're going to find a way to get it done.


Q: How will you keep the program from running into some of the off-the-field problems it has in recent years?


Dorrell: "I'm a firm believer of always having an open line of communication with your players. My staff will have an open line of communication with our players.  You have to be able to build some kind of trust factor with your players.  They have to work toward a common goal, what's important to this program, and what's important being here for this university. This is a family atmosphere, and my goal is that my players would be able to come to me for anything.  So hopefully a relationship will help to alleviate some of those issues."


Q: What will you try to do on offense and defense?


Dorrell: "I'm hoping to score a lot of touchdowns, and hoping to stop a lot of people. The system I'll bring is very much what we're currently doing with the Denver Broncos. We're going to be a very balanced offense, that has a great run threat and great passing ability. We'll be exciting to watch by formationing people. Defensively, we want to get after it, put pressure on the quarterback. We'll want to mix things up where we're comfusing his reads and what he wants to do against our defense. I think we'll be exciting on both sides. That's my ultimate goal."


Q: What kind of expectations do you have for the program and for next year?


Dorrell: For next year is to win the Pac-10 championship. And for the following year is to win the Pac-10 championship. And the succeeding year, the same thing. And the last game of the year is of great importance, because winning that game will lead you to the national recognition that you need. Winning the Pac-10 and beating your crosstown rivals, those are the biggest issues on my mind."


Q: Have you become familiar with the team's personnel?


Dorrell: "I know we had a lot of young players, a lot of freshmen and sophomores who had a lot of experience playing this year. We have some good young talent coming back.  I haven't had a chance to study our personnel, but talking to the coaches here and Bob Field, there is a lot of promise for next year."


Q: Will anyone above you insist on hiring certain assistant coache? Will the assistant coaches be your guys?


Dorrell: "They're going to be my guys. But I don't feel that it would be wise if I don't collaborate with someone. I think that's prudent in any job. I've always done it as an assistant, or a coordinator, when I was hiring an offensive line coach or receiver coach. I think you have have a different perspective within the process, and I plan on doing it with the process here."


Q: What did you say to the players today when you met with them?


"I just told them how excited I was, how happy I was to be back. I'm standing on Spaulding Field, I flashed back to 1984 when I practiced on Spaulding Field. It was an unusual feeling because I haven't been back here in a long time. But it felt the same way. It felt like I had only been gone a day or so. But I greeted them and wanted to let them know that I'm pulling for them in the bowl game, and I'm so excited for my opportunity to meet with them when I get back individually, and to really share our vision for what our future will be."


Q: Will go to Vegas?


Dorrell: "We're currently working on a solution for that right now."


Q: What will be the first order of business?


Dorrell: "We have to get on our recruiting trail. And hopefully get a good start of picking up the pieces there."


Q: Will you have a philosophy in recruiting?


"There is going to be a strong emphasis to recruiting here in the Southern California area. California has always been a hot bed for other universities to come in here and pick off our talent. That's an ultimate goal of mine to keep that talent here, in state. There's a lot of talent. I understand that. But obviously our presence in Southern California will be felt."


Will there be a strong presence and role of alumni around your program do you think?


Dorrell:  "I think a lot of the people are here today because they're excited about the future of UCLA football and being  a part of it. That's what this is all about. Those relationships who have played, have done the same things that these kids are currently doing, they shed their blood on Spaulding Field, too. They deserve to be around the program because they have a great deal on interest, a great deal of time invested in it, and I'm always receptive to that."


Q: Will any of your assistants have head coaching experience?


Dorrell: "I guarantee you there will be someone with head coaching experience on the staff. It goes back to collaboration. It's good to have some guys who have had some experience in those areas. I'm 39, and it'd be foolish of me to hire a bunch of guys who are 32 and say, ‘Here we go, guys. Let's go do it.'  That would be the fastest way out of this chair. I'm very receptive to a wide range of people on my staff who have diversity and some experience."


Q: It sounds like you have someone in mind. Is that the case and can you tell us?


Dorrell: "I cannot tell you. But in my mind, you're right. I do have some people in mind who are at the forefront, but that will come out in due time."


Q:  Did you hear that the Washington coaches whooped and hollered when they found out you were named the UCLA head coach?


Dorrell: "Well, I'm close with many of the coaches at Washington. Rick Neuheisel gave me my first big coordinator break in this profession. I have relationships with coaches not only at Washington. But even at the crosstown rival school. But that's going to change."


Q: It seems like it's hard for you to say the name of that crosstown rival school...


Dorrell: "No, it's not hard for me to say. But it's something that is obviously very important to me. My players will understand how important that is. They'll understand that it's a big deal."


Q: Do you think you have a lot of loss time to make up for in recruiting?


Dorrell: "I don't think we lost much time. We're going into a dead period at the end of this week, Sunday at midnight, I believe. You can't be out on the road. But you can make your one call a week. Getting here now, after Sunday, getting back in on the issues we have in recruiting, I think we'll be okay. The biggest thing is really getting a staff together, and I need to wait to get most of that done after the bowl game. Most of the UCLA coaches, I want to have a chance to get to talk with them about their futures. And I think we'll try to figure out when I can call, for one. Being from the NFL. I've been out of the NCAA certification process for three years. So we're working on when I can do that. Then I'll target the kids that are already committed to us, and make sure they're solid about being Bruins, and then the other ones we're targeting."

Bruin Report Online Top Stories