LOS ANGELES UCLA coach Karl Dorrell was fired Monday, a day after the Bruins accepted a bowl bid and two days after a loss to cross-town rival Southern California.
Dorrell was let go despite leading the Bruins to a postseason game in each of his five seasons at UCLA, which had an outside chance to reach the Rose Bowl before its loss to USC.
The 43-year-old Dorrell had a 43-27 record. The Bruins (6-6) will play BYU (10-2) in the Las Vegas Bowl on Dec. 22, with defensive coordinator DeWayne Walker to serve as interim coach.
"This was a very difficult decision for me," UCLA athletic director Dan Guerrero said in a statement. "Karl has represented this program with dignity and class. He is a true Bruin and I respect what he has accomplished in his five years as our head coach, particularly off the field. But, at the end of the day, the focus has to be on results and I felt that a change was in the best interest for the future of our program."
Dorrell's firing leaves five black coaches at 119 major college coaches.
Talk of Dorrell's ouster has been building all year, which included early season losses to to Utah and to a then-winless Notre Dame. If the Bruins had made it to the Rose Bowl, it would have been the first time a team with five losses had played in Pasadena in the "grandaddy of them all."
Boise State's Chris Petersen, Texas Tech's Mike Leach and former NFL coach Steve Mariucci have already been contacted by UCLA about the job, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Expectations were high for Dorrell's 2007 team. They were ranked in the top 25 of almost every preseason poll. They were up to No. 11 in The Associated Press poll before losing 44-6 by Utah on Sept. 15. Then they lost to Notre Dame. The Bruins went on to lose three Pacific-10 Conference games.
His best season was 2005, when he led UCLA to a 10-2 record, with one of the losses a 66-19 pounding by USC.
"I want to thank Dan Guerrero for the opportunity to coach at my alma mater," Dorrell said in a statement. "I know that the program is in much better shape than when I inherited it and I believe that it is ready to flourish."
Dorrell was under contract through 2011, but it included a buyout clause that would pay him $2.05-million over a two-year period, according to the Times.