Ken Dorsey has joined FIU athletics … but for how long?
Dorsey, the former Miami Hurricanes first-team All-American and national championship quarterback, was hired this week and given the title of assistant athletic director.
But Dorsey, sources said, interviewed with the New York Giants for their offensive coordinator job less than a month ago, so the 36-year-old California native has not turned his back on coaching and could bolt from FIU within a year or even sooner if the right opportunity comes along.
His five-year run as Carolina Panthers quarterback coach — working with 2015 NFL MVP Cam Newton — ended when he was dismissed in January.
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“I’m not closing any doors,” Dorsey said Thursday from FIU’s stadium, where he watched the Panthers’ Pro Day activities.
How Dorsey ended up at FIU is simple. FIU coach Butch Davis and athletic director Pete Garcia recruited Dorsey just before the turn of the century.
Davis flew out to the Bay Area to try to convince Dorsey to come to Coral Gables.
“I remember being on the red-eye flight to San Francisco to watch him in a basketball game,” Davis said. “They [Miramonte High] had just won the state [football] championship six days before.”
Davis said he was concerned early on that Dorsey would sign with the Tennessee Volunteers.
“We were looking all around the country for quarterbacks, which is the same thing we’re doing here,” Davis said. “We told [Dorsey], ‘If you come here, we promise you that we’ll have a supporting cast of elite players. We were able to live up to that promise.”
Davis is correct, of course.
Dorsey went an astounding 38-2 as a starter, using running weapons such as Clinton Portis, James Jackson, Willis McGahee, Frank Gore, Najeh Davenport and Jarrett Payton; and receiving targets Santana Moss, Andre Johnson, Reggie Wayne, Jeremy Shockey, Kellen Winslow and Roscoe Parrish.
That’s just the short list, but the point is that Dorsey had incredible success at Miami. And even though Davis and Garcia left for the NFL’s Cleveland Browns before Dorsey’s 2001 championship season, they have kept in consistent touch.
So when Dorsey was dismissed by Carolina — less than two years after helping that franchise reach the Super Bowl — he got calls from Davis and Garcia at FIU.
“When everything happened in Carolina, I talked to Coach and Pete,” Dorsey said. “They wanted me to visit with the staff here. We got to talking, and they said, ‘Hey, if nothing works out on the NFL side, and you want to come down here, we’d love to have you.’ ”
Dorsey said he had other opportunities.
“There were two or three other schools I was considering,” Dorsey said. “But I felt the things that Coach and Pete are doing to build a program to be on the national stage year in and year out — I wanted to be a part of that. It’s exciting to be here.”
Garcia said he envisions Dorsey spending about 75 percent of his time working with Davis on football. The rest of his time, Dorsey will help Garcia with fund-raising and other athletic-director functions.
“Having Kenny here is a really good thing for our athletic department,” Davis said. “He will have a role helping us offensively, watching film. He’s going to look at what we’re doing in practice and what we can do better.”
Dorsey has a Bachelor’s degree from Miami, where he majored in Marketing and Business Management. Learning athletic administration from the ground up does appeal to Dorsey, and Garcia has no doubts about his competence.
“Football and game day — that’s his passion,” Garcia said. “But Ken is smart enough to be whatever he wants to be.”
But until or unless another offer comes along, Dorsey said his “sole focus” is FIU.
“I’m not sitting in my office making calls to other places,” he said.
So that leads us back to our original question: How long will he stay?
“I don’t think his coaching days are over,” Davis said. “Somebody in the NFL could suddenly retire and that team could be looking for a great offensive mind.
“[Dorsey] has a great track record [as a coach]. We’re fortunate to have him.”