Ed. Note - Joey and I collaborated this piece together...P
Norm Chow is not going to be the USC offensive coordinator next season. Relax, deal with it, and let’s move on. It’s time to start focusing on rounding out the rest of the staff instead of constantly thinking about what could have been with Chow calling the plays.
Still, in all honestly, it would have been nice to be able to poke a finger in the eye of some UCLA fans by stealing Chow, but in the grand scheme of things, it is not the end of the world for this program.
In retrospect, it is perfectly understandable as to why everyone was clamoring for Chow. His return to USC would have given Kiffin and the Trojans instant credibility in the living rooms of five-star recruits and in press rooms nationwide. It would have smoothed over some of the perception issues and calmed the worries of the many of us who remain tentatively nervous about this latest hire. But the deal never took place, and, that doesn’t necessarily mean the program is in bad shape. In fact, it could even be better in the long term.
There is no question that Chow is an icon in college football. He knows how to use personnel and he is a tremendous developer of quarterbacks. But you can say that his play calling has had some ups and downs. There are many who will continue to pine for the old days, but really, I think that people treat Chow's past history at USC like wine (it gets better with age).
In the meanwhile, it’s essential for us to take a step back and reflect. Do your accomplishments six years ago guarantee success now? When it’s all said and done, perception isn't reality, especially when in regards to Chow.
We have to be realistic. As great as it sounded to have the "band back together," it is a lot simpler that Chow did not return as well. That was a disaster waiting to happen. Chow has a huge ego. I am sure that he was not pleased to hear that Kiffin wanted to call the plays (although, it is rumored that Neuheisel pulled play calling duty from Chow at one point in the season). We all need to come to terms with the fact that Chow's better days are likely behind him. He has procured a lot of mileage on his good name, but his NFL stint with the Titans was a failure and the jury is still out on his current endeavor across town (it isn’t looking too promising). That doesn't diminish his accomplishments at all, but in recent years, he has not been overly impressive. His name creates more buzz and hype than his recent accomplishments. In Chow’s two seasons in Westwood, the Bruins have ranked over 80 nationally in total offense. Not exactly a group that has been garnering a wealth of offensive awards.
But nevertheless, Chow’s fingerprints are all over the program, even if he never calls another play for the Trojans.
Kiffin tutored under Chow after all. He was taught by the guru. Didn’t he learn something?
Of course he did. He does have his fair share of career accomplishments.
When Chow bolted for the NFL in 2005, how were John David Booty and Mark Sanchez both able to make it to the NFL? Isn't that the benchmark as to the success of a college quarterback? Sanchez was the fourth overall pick. Booty while going in the later rounds at least got a shot – most don’t. Lane Kiffin and Steve Sarkisian developed both of those guys with Chow having very little if any input in either player’s development.
Go back and look at the 2006 BCS Title game against Texas. That night, ‘SC put up 38 point on the best defense in the country. That game was lost by a decimated defense and few bad calls - not the offense. The offense, short of two plays, had that game won. Lane Kiffin called that game; he was the offensive coordinator and the play caller. We can argue all we want about not having Bush in the game on 4th and 2, but ‘SC had successfully run that play all night so there was little to no reason for them to change anything dramatically. Both Kiffin and Chow had the disposal of Reggie Bush – arguably the most explosive player in college football up to that point. Bush bailed out Chow as much as he bailed out Kiffin.
As much as the next guy, Chow goes as the talent goes. The better it is the better he is. Chow doesn't turn scrap into metal. He needs talent for his schemes to work like anybody else. What separates him from other coordinators is his ability to maximize the talent available. It’s what good coaches do, but he like anyone, has his limits. At UCLA, with limited talent, we have yet to see the explosive Chow offense come to life. Sure, Neuheisel is a great recruiter, but he still has yet to live up to his name in reeling in talent. As a result, he and Chow have had their fair share of difficulties in instituting a prolific offense.
Kiffin isn’t perfect, but he brings a lot of positives. Aside from being a great recruiter he is an exceptional passing coordinator. Working with a fantastic talent, this should shine through.
But most importantly, Kiffin isn’t doing this by himself. The staff he put together even without Norm Chow is the definition of the dream team that UCLA was trying to replicate two years ago. Getting Chow would have been the cherry on top, but the staff is starting to look good nonetheless.
Despite the constant bellyaching from the mainstream press and the folks from across town, ‘SC will likely be better than most want to believe. Provided Kiffin can compete for the Pac-10 title off the bat, I think he will squelch the complaints that we are hearing today.