Canadian Football League

Saturday, February 05, 2005

USC offensive coordinator Norm Chow has appeared to be the leading candidate to replace Mike Heimerdinger as offensive coordinator for the Tennessee Titans from the get go. With the college National Signing Day complete, Chow is finally scheduled to meet today with Titans head coach Jeff Fisher and possibly QB Steve McNair at Baptist Sports Park. Sources indicate the Titans will offer a deal around $1 million per season which will be accepted by Chow. Just hours after Heimerdinger's departure, Fisher contacted USC head coach Pete Carroll about Chow and agreed to wait until after the National Signing Day before setting up an official interview. "Norm and I will spend a lot of time together, talking about our offense, his offense, just to see if we can make it fit," Fisher said. "We have a lot to discuss and I am looking forward to getting into great detail." Though the 58-year old coach has never coached in the NFL, he's been the offensive guru for the back-to-back national champion Trojans who has produced Heisman Trophy-winners QB Matt Leinart and Carson Palmer. Before moving to USC in 2001, he coached QBs at North Carolina State who produced first-round pick QB Phillip Rivers. Previous to 2000, Chow spent 27 seasons at Brigham Young coaching QBs including Steve Young, Ty Detmer and Jim McMahon. Even before his duo of National Championships, his offenses have ranked among the nation's top 10 passing leaders 15 times in 21 years at three schools (and seven times in the top two). Twelve times they have ranked among the top 10 in total offense.He won the 2002 Broyles Award as the nation's top assistant coach and won similar awards in 1999, 1996 and 1993.Chow, whose father was Chinese and his mother Hawaiian, was born and raised in Honolulu. He played football for the University of Utah, where he became an all-Western Athletic Conference guard and honorable mention all-America in 1967. He played in the Canadian Football League for the Saskatchewan Roughriders until a knee injury ended his career. By 1970, he was coaching Waialua High near Honolulu.In 1973, he began a two-year stint as a graduate assistant at BYU and then took a full-time position on the staff as the recruiting coordinator and receivers coach. By 1982, he had worked his way up to the offensive coordinator. Under Chow, BYU had one of the nation's most potent offenses, which was based on the passing game. In 1983, the Cougars were 13-1 and set an NCAA record by averaging a staggering 584 yards per game. In 1984 they were 13-0 and national champions. In 1985, they were 11-3 and in 1990 10-3. When it appeared they were fading in the 90s, they went 14-1 in 1996 and won the Cotton Bowl.There appears to be no end to the praise of Norm Chow as a great offensive mind."A lot of guys can study and learn," Former BYU head coach LaVell Edwards once said. "Everybody does that. But Norm has a certain innate understanding and feel for it (calling plays). He's able to get into the flow of a game. He can get a feeling of how things are going and make the right call. That's where the innate ability comes into play. Norm is one of the best play callers we've had.""I've had some great coaches," Bengals QB Carson Palmer once said of Chow while still at USC, "but I guess I kind of saved the best for last because Coach Chow's just phenomenal."USC head coach Pete Carroll once said of Chow, "Norm has brought an integrity to our program and has validated what we stand for on offense. He really helped us get started because kids came here with confidence knowing Norm Chow would be involved in the offense. He gave me a legitimate shot at showing we'd have an offense that would be competitive from the beginning. His impact has been enormous."QB Matt Leinart has added the importance of Chow to his Heisman Trophy career, "Coach Chow is instrumental in my growth as a quarterback and PERSONALLY [emphasis added]. Our offense has skyrocketed after his first year here. He has a good system and has a great feel for the game. He really tries to utilize everyone's unique abilities to their full potential. We are a very balanced team, but we can pitch in so many different ways. My job is just to get the ball to those guys. [Personality wise,] He is low-key. On the field, he has a presence because of who he is and what he's accomplished."QB Steve McNair will certainly appreciate this quote by Leinart of Chow, "It's fun to play for him," Leinart said. "His system is very quarterback-friendly. He calls the play and lets me go do my thing. Just get the ball to an open receiver. The system is not very complex. It allows for the quarterback to be efficient. There is a lot of high percentage plays there. You just have to play smart." USC WR Mike Williams, who is expected to be a top ten pick in this April's NFL draft, is also a Chow fan. "Coach Chow has definitely opened my mind up to football and the possibilities of what you can do in this game. He showcases player talents so well. He is also a great guy. He's not a 'rah rah' guy but he is definitely a genius at what he does."Chargers QB Philip Rivers sang Chow's praise as well in his early development at NC State. "First of all, his knowledge of the game is just unbelievable. To me, it was the way he could teach and get me ready to play a game so early. Without having to throw the whole offense at me, without having to teach me a ton of fundamentals, he was able to teach me. What I saw or what I learned best, that's what he'd put in the game. He put me in situations to succeed as a true freshman in my first game. He was able to teach. He was able to teach and mold people."Though Fisher has said that today's meeting with Chow is a "first step" and that other candidates will be considered for the OC position, has reported Chow will be made an offer today which will be accepted. Such a move will be a huge boost for the Titans and a big step towards rebounding from a disappointing season. QB Steve McNair will certainly want to be a part of a Chow offense as will WR Derrick Mason who is a focus for renegotiations this off-season.


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