Nebraska’s Norvell hired as coordinator

Times Staff Writer

UCLA hired Nebraska offensive coordinator Jay Norvell to fill the same position with the Bruins on Friday.

Norvell, 43, spent the last three seasons working under Nebraska Coach Bill Callahan, where he coached and developed offensive game plans but did not call plays. With the Bruins, Norvell will do both.

“I’ve prepared my whole career to continue to gain more responsibility,” said Norvell, who spent three years coaching tight ends for the Oakland Raiders before coaching at Nebraska. “I’ve had some play-calling experience early in my career at Iowa State when I was assistant head coach in charge of the quarterbacks and the passing game.

“Here at Nebraska, Bill called the plays and we interacted. I gave him information that he needed from the box and we collaborated on things.”

UCLA Coach Karl Dorrell, who fired previous coordinator Jim Svoboda on Jan. 18, considered taking over the position himself but decided on Norvell because of his background with the West Coast offense.


“It was a long, thought-out process,” said Dorrell, who took a more active role with UCLA’s offense in the second half of last season. “But in the end, this was best for the program in order to step forward.”

Norvell is “an up-and-coming guy,” Dorrell added. “This will be a great opportunity for him to showcase his abilities.”

A year ago, Dorrell made a similar move on defense when he replaced Larry Kerr with DeWayne Walker. Although Walker had a limited background as a coordinator, he was able to turn the Bruins’ defense around in 2006.

“Obviously, he proved that he was ready for that,” Dorrell said of Walker. “And this is very similar.”

The Bruins, who have 10 offensive starters returning next season, finished seventh in the Pacific 10 Conference in total offense, averaging 330 yards a game. They were No. 4 in rushing (129.8) and sixth in passing (200.3).

Now it will be up to Norvell, who interviewed with Dorrell for the coordinator position in 2004, to make the Bruins’ offense more productive.

“One of the things that we’ve been able to establish at Nebraska -- in a short time -- is a pro-style attack that’s very multiple and plays with a good tempo,” Norvell said about the Cornhuskers, 17th in the nation in scoring (30.6 points a game) and 14th in total offense (414.6) last season. “We’re looking to do the same here at UCLA.”

Norvell, who also coached wide receivers with the Indianapolis Colts and at Oklahoma and Wisconsin, says that he’s glad to finally have an opportunity to work with Dorrell.

“I felt at that time that we had a lot of similar philosophies,” Norvell said about interviewing with the Bruins three years ago. “We were on the same page in a lot of instances. The timing wasn’t right then, but the timing is exactly right now and I feel fortunate that it’s there.”


Senior wide receiver Junior Taylor will participate in the first Texas vs. the Nation All-Star Challenge, which will be played Friday at the Sun Bowl in El Paso. Taylor will play on the Nation team. Former UCLA defensive end Kevin Harbor, who will represent Grambling, will also play on the Nation team.... Offensive line coach Jim Colletto has been contacted by several NFL teams and according to Dorrell “is mulling over” the decision to remain with the Bruins for another season. *