BILL PLASCHKE

Progress was rarely seen in Dorrell era, much like the coach

It's just more of the same with the UCLA coach.

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His offense ran off the field for the last time, their soiled and bandaged jerseys passing his spotless and pressed jacket.

They didn't look at him. He didn't look at them.

Moments later, he was jogged off the Coliseum field followed by five policemen who proved entirely unnecessary.

The large UCLA cheering section did not acknowledge him. He did not acknowledge them.

Five years ago, on a chilly day in Colorado, the Karl Dorrell era at UCLA began with the new coach disappearing under the moment, leading me to write that the Bruins had gone from "Holy Toledo to Holy Ghost."

Fittingly, this is also how the era probably ended Saturday at the Coliseum, on a day holding that same chill.

Such a good, decent man.

Such an invisible head coach.

The Bruins were wiped out by USC, 24-7, in a game featuring four turnovers, 10 penalties and peculiar play calling.

It was just like Dorrell's first game five years ago, a two-point loss to Colorado featuring bad management and brain cramps.

On Dorrell's first Saturday, the Bruins lost when a roughing-the-passer call led to a touchdown, when they ran out of timeouts in the final two minutes, when they gained just 38 yards rushing.

On possibly Dorrell's last Saturday, the Bruins lost when another roughing-the-passer call led to a touchdown, when they chose to give USC an extra down after a penalty that led to a touchdown, and when they rushed for just a dozen yards.

This is not progress.

And this is ultimately how Dorrell should be judged when UCLA officials meet Monday to make a decision on his future.

Don't judge him on his players' improved off-the-field behavior. Since Athletic Director Dan Guerrero was hired several years ago, that sort of behavior has become expected.

Don't judge him because his players play hard. Isn't college football one of the last bastions of sports where everyone plays hard? Since when is that a sign of good coaching?

Don't judge him because of recent injuries. This is not about five games, it's about five years.

Finally, don't judge him because you think he, as one of college football's six African American college coaches, has been treated unfairly because of his race. To do so trivializes the truly serious racial problems that still beset many less influential African Americans in the workplace.

Los Angeles may have racial problems elsewhere, but they rarely surface in the sports world, where this city's color-blind sports fans have supported African American basketball coaches, Asian pitchers and Latino owners.

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