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UCLA coach Karl Dorrell during the 2nd half against USC during their Pac 10 game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum Saturday, December 1, 2007 in Los Angeles, California. USC defeated UCLA 24 to 7. Dorrell was fired by UCLA Monday.
UCLA football head coach Karl Dorrell was fired during a meeting with athletic director Dan Guerrero this morning after leading the Bruins to a 6-6 record in his fifth season as head coach.

Dorrell, a former UCLA receiver, won 35 games and lost 27 as coach.

"You can imagine this was a very difficult and painful decision," Guerrero said at a press conference in the J.D. Morgan Center on campus Monday afternoon. "I hired Karl in the hopes that this program would grow and prosper, and in many ways it did."

A national search for his replacement begin immediately, and Guerrero said UCLA will hire a search firm.

Dorrell has been given the option to coach UCLA in its game against BYU on Dec. 22 in the Las Vegas Bowl, but he has not said if he will. Several players said they didn't believe Dorrell would coach the bowl game.

If Dorrell, 43, declines to coach in the Las Vegas bowl, defensive coordinator DeWayne Walker will lead the team, Guerrero said.

When Dorrell was hired, Guerrero said he gave him two primary objectives, one of which was to start the rebuilding the team's reputation off the field as well as on it. Guerrero paid Dorrell compliments in that regard.

"The other reason was to build this program into a consistent winner and a five-year window should give us the opportunity (to do that)," Guerrero said.

Walker would seem a likely candidate for the vacancy, but after Guerrero's press conference on Monday, it seems clear he would be a longshot since


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he has no head coaching experience. Walker, who is a candidate for the Washington State opening, is expected to be interviewed for the position.

"If you were talking about a pre-requisite, (head coaching experience) is pretty important, and obviously someone who's had successful head coaching experience," Guerrero said. "That being said, you never say never."

During his tenure, UCLA's off-the-field image, which took a beating under coach Bob Toledo, was cleaned up. But on the field too many inconsistent performances did in Dorrell, who was 1-4 against USC, including Saturday's 24-7 loss at the Coliseum.

UCLA was blasted by Utah 44-6 this year. The Bruins even lost to lowly Notre Dame before beating Cal in its next game. Last year, the Bruins upset USC, then lost to a mediocre Florida State team in the Emerald Bowl.

Asked if there was any one game or moment Guerrero felt he needed to make a change, he said no.

"There were a lot of games over the five-year period you wish you could have back," Guerrero said. "Certainly, the Utah game was a tough one."

Dorrell made a statement in a UCLA-issued press release.

"I want to thank Dan Guerrero for the opportunity to coach at my alma mater," Dorrell said. "I know that the program is in much better shape than when I inherited it, and I believe that it is ready to flourish.

"I am proud of what the program accomplished during my five years, especially in the areas of academics, citizenship and recruiting. I think a great foundation has been laid and I will be pulling for the young men I recruited into the program to be successful in the future."

Among potential candidates to replace Dorrell, as reported here Sunday, are Texas Tech coach Mike Leach, former Detroit Lions and San Francisco 49ers coach Steve Mariucci, and former Colorado and Washington coach Rick Neuheisel, who is the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach for the Baltimore Ravens. Boise State coach Chris Petersen figured to be a candidate but said Monday that he's not interested in the job.

Before UCLA's final four games this season, Guerrero said he would be "very interested" to see how UCLA did, a comment that put Dorrell on the hot seat. UCLA lost three of those games but beat a Dennis Dixon-less Oregon team to become bowl eligible.

Dorrell was an assistant coach with the Denver Broncos for three years before becoming UCLA's head coach. He was a longtime assistant coach in college and was an offensive coordinator at the University of Washington and University of Colorado.

He implemented the West Coast offense at UCLA, an approach that was criticized as too difficult for college-level players to master.

UCLA's assistant coaches are all under contract through June, Guerrero said. They will coach in the bowl game and are expected to continue to maintain recruiting efforts.

"I want to thank all of the players, coaches and staff for their efforts in building our program," Dorrell said. "They always worked hard, both on and off the field, no matter what adversity we faced, and I want them to know how much I appreciate them."

Dorrell's biggest victory came last year when UCLA ended a seven-game losing streak to USC with a 13-9 upset win at the Rose Bowl.

"This is not a place for just any coach," Guerrero said.