Be forceful, Karl Dorrell.
Be charismatic. Be smart in hiring your assistant football coaches.
Be able to offer the star high school football talent of Southern California substantial and immediate playing time. And a good chance of playing in a good bowl every year.
Be present. Show up at Long Beach Poly or Mater Dei. Show up as often as possible, staying within recruiting rules, of course. To say hello, to talk, to just hang out and let players know you, know what you are about, know that you have the strength of your convictions, that you believe in yourself. Talk a lot about how you wouldn't let yourself be pushed aside in the UCLA hiring process, how you wouldn't accept just a token, polite interview, that you were going to be heard and considered.
Be careful too. If a player has already given a commitment to another school, don't try to change that commitment. Some high school coaches have taught their players that the commitment means something. If you just can't help yourself, be respectful and low-key.
Be aware of how lucky you are to have UCLA to sell. You start out with a big recruiting advantage. UCLA is it. Its campus, its academics, its conference, its history. You have a lot of good will on your side immediately, but you already know this and it's one reason you fought so hard for this job. You are a Bruin. It can be great to be a Bruin.
What you don't have to worry about is being African American.
High school coaches and players are saying Dorrell's race is neither a recruiting plus nor a minus. That Dorrell played college and pro football and that he has been an assistant coach with a successful NFL team, those are pluses. That he understands the area, appreciates the talent base, has a previous tie to UCLA, those are pluses.
And this ought to work out fine, because Dorrell made it clear Thursday at his introductory press conference that he got this job because of his coaching qualifications, not racial qualifications.
"I don't go by skin color," said Brandon Mebane, a defensive tackle at Crenshaw High. "I'm looking for a great school, a great coaching staff, a great environment. Skin color doesn't matter to me. Maybe it does to some people but not to me."
Mebane, who has visited Cal, Oregon and Washington, is African American. It's a positive, Mebane said, to see an African American get a head-coaching job at a premier program and it will be nice if Dorrell succeeds, he added. But UCLA's being one of only four Division I-A schools with African American head coaches won't influence his decision.
"I'd be interested in talking to UCLA now because I'd like to see what the new coach is about," Mebane said. "But I'd feel that way whoever got the job."
Kevin Brown, a defensive tackle and guard for Long Beach Poly, said, "I think it's great that an African American got the UCLA job. But I don't see how his being African American makes a difference in recruiting. What matters is that he's a man who obviously worked hard to get to UCLA and now I hope to meet him and find out about him."
Brown is planning on visiting Ohio State, Florida State and maybe Nebraska. And now, UCLA.
It won't be the color of Dorrell's skin that Brown pays attention to, though. It will be the feeling he gets. USC, under Pete Carroll and some previous coaches, has had great success in recruiting Poly players. UCLA, under Bob Toledo, didn't.
"I think that's because it's been more of a close feeling, a family thing, that you get off USC coaches," Brown said. "At UCLA, it seemed like things were cold and people weren't really happy. USC, it's in the middle of South Central, it feels like it's more for everybody."
Greg Biggins, director of recruiting for Student Sports, an Internet publication, said that race "might be a little bit overblown. A kid I just spoke to about this said it didn't matter if the coach was black, white or green. All that matters to the kid is that he respected and believed in the coach."
Poly Coach Raul Lara said the race of a coach might matter.
"But if it does," Lara added, "it matters very, very little. What does matter? How a coach presents himself. Who he hires for his staff.
"When John Robinson was at USC the last time, he had great success here. Robinson loved our kids and our kids related to him. For whatever reasons, Paul Hackett didn't pick up any of our guys. Pete Carroll has done a phenomenal job of getting our kids. Bob Toledo? Honestly, I've never seen him over here. What we liked about Robinson and Carroll? That they are honest and truthful and you can see they really care for the kids. Kids can sense that. It's not the skin color, believe me."
Mater Dei Coach Bruce Rollinson said football recruits pay attention to many things.
"But I don't, honestly, think that race of the coach is a factor at all," he said.