Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Another Trojan to Leave?

With the deadline for players to declare themselves eligible for the NFL Draft having just passed, it would appear that the Trojans are done suffering defections for a while.

But InsideUSC has learned that the UCLA football program is trying to entice USC linebackers coach Ken Norton to return to his alma mater and coach the Bruins.

On Tuesday, UCLA head coach Karl Dorrell fired defensive coordinator Larry Kerr, who also served as the team's linebackers coach.

A source close to the program said that four former Bruins have contacted Norton to lobby him to move across town. Were Norton to return to UCLA, it would likely be as linebackers coach and not defensive coordinator.

But first, Dorrell would have to mend some fences. In recent years, he and Norton haven't even been on speaking terms.

The two played together at UCLA from 1984-86, and Norton pushed the athletic department to hire his former teammate and showed up at the press conference where Dorrell was announced as the new head coach to show his support.

After the hire, Norton approached Dorrell several times about joining the UCLA coaching staff. Each time, he was turned down.

Norton then contacted USC coach Pete Carroll, whom he played for with the San Francisco 49ers. Carroll offered him a position as a graduate assistant. When Dorrell found out, he tried to counter by offering the same at UCLA. But it was too late.

"I gave them every opportunity to let them know what I felt and let them know what I wanted to do, and they weren't receptive," Norton told the Pasadena Star News in a 2004 interview. "It was up to them. I let them know that I was available, and it was up to them to make a decision. It didn't work out."

"I let [Dorrell] know that I was interested in coaching, and it was up to him to decide what was available for me," Norton said. "He knew that I was available."


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