Karl Dorrell said thanks, but no thanks Tuesday to an option year that would have extended his contract as UCLA's football coach through the 2008 season. Although appreciative of the offer, Dorrell declined it, saying, "In my mind, we did not accomplish enough of our goals this past season."
The Bruins were 6-7 in Dorrell's first season as coach, losing their final five games, including 17-9 to Fresno State in the Silicon Valley Classic.
Several key players, among them tailback Tyler Ebell, receiver Tab Perry, who was first ruled academically ineligible, and quarterback Matt Moore, then decided to transfer to other schools. Matt Ware, a standout cornerback, announced last week that he was skipping his senior season to make himself available for the NFL draft.
"We support Karl and believe in him," said Athletic Director Dan Guerrero. "We did not have the kind of year he hoped to have. Our job is to support him and give him the resources he needs."
Guerrero added: "There was no question in my mind" that offering the extension was the right move.
"The issue of rolling over the contract was a no-brainer for me," Guerrero added. "The fact he chose not to roll it over, in my estimation, shows he feels he's going to get it on track."
Dorrell said twice during a news conference that he hoped to "earn" his compensation and wasn't particularly concerned about long-term security.
"It's not like I signed a three-year contract," he said. "It was a six-year contract. Now it's a five-year contract."
When someone wondered whether, by declining, he was implying that he wasn't committed to the program, Dorrell said, "I hope it will not be perceived that way. If anything, it should show a stronger commitment."
Dorrell can still agree to extend his contract during a window from Jan. 1-31 during each year of the contract. By turning down the extension this time, Dorrell left $150,000 -- his base salary -- on the table if he is bought out of his contract before the end of the deal.