Dorrell Charges Forward His Way

Times Staff Writer

It’s hard not to notice USC Coach Pete Carroll during a football game. He’s constantly jabbering into his headset as he paces the sideline, and always jumping on players and slapping their helmets -- affectionately, not a la Woody Hayes -- as they come off the field after good plays.

It’s hard to notice UCLA Coach Karl Dorrell during a football game. He stands with arms folded, blending into the sideline like a down marker, keeping his emotions bottled inside.

UCLA is at enough of a recruiting disadvantage, what with USC making a run at the national championship this season after going 11-2 and winning the Orange Bowl last season, and the offensively challenged Bruins struggling with a 6-5 record entering Saturday’s game against the Trojans.

Does Dorrell, who is reserved by nature, feel he has to recruit against Carroll’s gregarious personality as well as his powerhouse program?


“There’s different ways to be successful,” Dorrell said. “Pete is good at what he does, and he did that before he came to USC, so why should he change? It’s the same with me. I’m going to be who I am, and I’ve been successful with that.

“Just because I’m a head coach, do I need to change what I do, how I look? Do I need to read the manual on how to be a head coach? I don’t think that was written for one guy.

“There’s an element of emotion that’s not necessarily manifested in how you’re jumping around. Some players, like coaches, like to yell, some are more teacher-oriented. Both have been successful.”

UCLA senior defensive end Dave Ball said Carroll’s personality would appeal to impressionable recruits, “because he’s enthusiastic about football, and kids like that.” But, Ball added, “it wouldn’t matter to me.


“When it comes down to playing, you’re not looking to the sideline for inspiration, you’re feeding off your teammates. It’s all about winning. If the program is doing well, then kids will be drawn to it.”

Sophomore linebacker Justin London, who signed with UCLA out of Northside High in Roanoke, Va., said recruits should choose the school they feel most comfortable at, not the one with the most animated and affectionate coach.

“Pete Carroll likes to jump around and cheer and slap his players, and Karl goes about his business,” London said. “There are impressions that can be made from that, but guys are different.”

What really matters in recruiting for USC and UCLA, coaches and players agree, is what happens on the field this Saturday, not on the sideline.


“People want to be around teams that are winning and competing for a national championship, that’s what we play for,” UCLA flanker Ryan Smith said. “And a win against your crosstown rival is going to help out your recruiting.”