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Monday, August 14, 2006

Dorrell pulls rug out from walk-on

Yesterday, I lost a lot of respect for UCLA head coach Karl Dorrell. And though he probably doesn't even realize it nor would they ever tell him, I bet some members of his team did, too. For he just let each and every one of them know that they're nothing more than cogs in a wheel. That the student part of "student-athlete" is a crock. That the "Bruins family" isn't. All because of the way he handled the case of a walk-on receiver named Andrew Baumgartner.

Baumgartner is a modern Rudy, the Notre Dame walk-on whose story was immortalized on the big screen. Upon graduating from high school with a 4.6 GPA (4.6?!), Baumgartner didn't have the raw skills to interest the big-time schools. So he enrolled at UCLA as an engineering major. Then, after leading his IM flag football team to consecutive flag football championships (I am not making this shit up, read the LA TIMES article linked above), he called the football office following the 2003 season and asked for a tryout.

Well, at the annual student tryout, the kid made the team as a walk-on but, as luck would have it, a high-ankle sprain forced him to miss the entire 2004 season.

But he didn't quit.

The following spring - after changing his major to math and econ to better fit his football schedule - he began to get noticed. He busted his ass all summer, getting up at 5am to work out with the scholarship players.

The hard work paid off.

At the end of the summer, Baumgartner was given a scholarship for the 2005 season. And still not making any of this up, he got it just in time to tell his mom and stepfather as a sort of a surprise for their 50th birthdays (eat your heart out, Rudy).

Last fall, Baumgartner proved UCLA hadn't made a mistake. This was no "pity" scholarship. Given the chance, he made the most of his opportunity, catching a touchdown pass against Oklahoma as well as a 4th down toss on the winning drive against Washington. For the year, he caught 111 yards worth of passes and led all UCLA receivers with an average of 18.5 yards a catch.

So how did UCLA and head coach Karl Dorrell reward him for his hard work?

He's a walk-on again.

This summer, Baumgartner got a letter informing him that the Bruins would not be renewing his scholarship. According to the LA Times article linked above, the money was needed for top freshman recruits. Eighty-five scholarships to give but not one was available for Baumgartner after all he'd accomplished in 2005.

He goes from walk-on hero to a kid who isn't even allowed to eat with the team at training table this season.

Gee, thanks, Coach K.

What bullshit.

When players were called to the football offices to sign their scholarships, Baumgartner wasn't one of them. Instead, he got a letter in late spring making it official. Dorrell didn't even personally tell him saying it had already been discussed. Even worse, just months before classes were to start, Baumgartner had to figure out how to pay for his senior year (the answer was a $12,000 loan).

Yeah, classy move, Karl. Class.

Look, I'm not naive. I know college football isn't just a game played by college students on Saturday afternoons anymore. It's big business. It's luxury boxes and multi-million dollar bowl payouts.

But rarely is it this blatant.

So besides obviously making me think less of Dorrell as a person, it also makes me question him as a coach. Because he doesn't understand the positive impact of guys like an Andrew Baumgartner on the rest of a team. He doesn't realize his contribution is about more than having 4.4 speed in the 40. Most importantly, Dorrell doesn't seem to realize what his actions just told the rest of his players. And the next time he preaches to his players about the importance of being a student athlete or the "Bruins family," they're all going to know it's bullshit.

Just ask Andrew Baumgartner.

22 comments:

asdfasdf said...

pretty insane overreaction on your part. Do some research and you'll be hard pressed to find a single coach in 1A that hasn't done this exact sort of thing. Singling Radio Dorrell out for it just show you are either very biased or just ignorant. /shrug

Anonymous said...

This happens at every D-1 school in the country. Walk-ons get the schollies when recruits don't qualify or they quit, etc. and the numbers come in under 85. Every team will try to get it back up to 85 recruited athletes the next year and if they can then walk-ons will give their scholarships up. This is not a big deal and a complete non-issue. Happens everywhere.

robert paulson said...

As much of a bummer this is for Baumgartner, it's not nearly as bad as what happens at some schools across the country. You know some of those SEC schools that sign 28-35 kids a year despite a 25 scholarship limit per season? Well, they do lose kids to not qualifying to stay under 25. But do you wonder how they stay under 85 total when taking 25 every year? They simply choose not to renew the scholarships of some players that they recruited.

Can you imagine getting a scholarship to play football at a school and then after your freshman year they tell you that you aren't good enough and you lose your scholarship? That's a hell of a lot worse than a walkon getting a scholarship for a year and then not getting it the next year.

Cool Hand Mike said...

As Rick James said," Cooooooooold Blooooooooded."

Anonymous said...

That is fucked up. Especially if the kid could contribute to the team by being good enough and smart enough to warrant playing time.

Anonymous said...

Don't really agree with you...D1 schollies are for one year only and this is the case in women's soccer or men's football...his job is to field the best team he can and a walk on might be expendable. his choice...there's enough pressure on coaches to win that you have to be singleminded about it.

Greg said...

I had a 4.125 GPA in high school because of AP courses, in which an 'A' counted as a 5. Our valedictorian had something like a 4.6. Just to ease your mind a bit.

Anonymous said...

check out the big brain on Greg !!!!

The King said...

Yeah who cares. Fuck UCLA and their ridiculous "football" program and fuck this poor kid who ONLY got to live one full year of any rational human being's dream life. Boo hoo.

Plus, you're not allowed to dislike Karl Dorrell. He's black.

Anonymous said...

he'll get his schollie back once one of these "heralded freshman recruits" doesn't get past the NCAA clearinghouse!

beat the Ruins!

Can't spell Lloyd without 2 "L's" said...

LMFAO the King. Well said.

srudoff said...

I heard Dorrell even recruited a top 2 safety in the nation, promised the safety that he would be a safety in college, then moved him to linebacker after the safety committed!!!!!!!!!

oh wait, that was Carr with Burgess

whoops

Zippy said...

IIRC, Bo did the same thing with Bob Bergeron (kicker). The Grand Rapids press did the same "WTF?/ Bo is the antichrist" column about it at the time.

Beban said...

On behalf of every UCLA alum I've spoken to..."Boo Fuckin' Hoo."

He was rewarded with a one year scholie, which the school didn't have to do. One year of free school.

UCLA wants to, you know, like not suck, so they need the scholarship.

Nice screed though. It was fun reading.

DevilGrad said...

My home team (Miami U) has a significant walk-on tradition, and I know that parents and coaches frequently have differing impressions regarding how much a student has been promised. One year on scholarship out of four is a frequent compromise, but that usually comes as a senior.

We'll probably never know the full story on how much the kid was promised, but, considering that he's still "running with the ones and twos" even after having his schollie pulled, it appears that Dorrell has not yet replaced Baumgartner with superior talent while sending an unintended message to his team regarding the extent to which hard work is rewarded in Westwood. So, good luck with the not sucking.

Anonymous said...

"considering that he's still "running with the ones and twos" even after having his schollie pulled, it appears that Dorrell has not yet replaced Baumgartner with superior talent."

You have no clue what you're talking about. He was 10th in receptions, with a whopping 113 yds. They had three hurt receivers last year, so he played. They have an Army All-American coming in that's going to play the slot. And 10-2 isn't so bad.

Greg said...

Why yes, I do have a big ... brain. Of course, I'm a Penn State alum reading a Michigan blog, so I can't be THAT smart, can I?

Anonymous said...

^asdfasdf, lol! "radio dorrell"

The coach should have talked to him, or perhaps help found him a academic scholarship, maybe some financial aid after taking the scholarship away. That's if Dorrell had any class...

Anonymous said...

I wish Dorrell had class...
Says the guy who thinks calling him retarded is humorous.

Allaha said...

I agree with the post: since when is the propriety of an action determined by its frequency?

Many of the comments on this post say that removing scholarships is common, and therefore there is nothing wrong with this practice. This (poor) analysis is no different from saying that cheating is common in certain conferences, and therefore it is all right for others in those conferences to cheat.

Phrased differently, while it may be a common practice, it betrays much of what college athletics is ostensibly about. I have no problem with an NFL team drafting a player and then cutting him: it is a business, and everyone recognizes that. But when a college player does everything he is supposed to do -- follow team rules; practice; deliver in clutch situations; make sacrifices for his team -- then he and we should reasonably expect the school to honor that relationship by maintaining his scholarship.

More succinctly, the coach is a douche bag.

"Radio Dorrell" said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

And cue the bigot. I'll go ahead and assume he's from the Midwest or South. How's Terry Schiavo doing?