Utah football: Coaches adjusting to new roles
When Utah coach Kyle Whittingham hired Norm Chow as offensive coordinator, he made it clear the former UCLA coordinator would be the man calling the shots.
"It is his show," was the phrase Whittingham used then and has since repeated frequently.
So where does that leave former coordinators Aaron Roderick and Dave Schramm? Are they spending as much time planning their exits from the Utes as they are plotting offensive schemes for 2011?
That scenario is hardly the case, Utah's coaches say.
What could be a tense and uncomfortable situation with the addition of Chow instead has been a smooth transition for the Utah coaching staff.
Roderick, who has moved from coaching the receivers to calling the plays and now back to the receivers, said he doesn't view his role change as a demotion.
"We're all pros here and it's all about winning," Roderick said. "I've always had a great relationship with Schramm and I've known coach Chow since my playing days, so it has all been good."
Even though he was unhappy with the way the offense performed in the second half of last season, Whittingham said he had no plans to hire a new coordinator. However, he couldn't pass up the chance to hire Chow when it became evident in January he was on his way out as UCLA's coordinator. Less than two weeks after rumors that Chow might join Utah's staff started, Whittingham had his man and Roderick and Schramm had new, old roles.
Giving the staff an assignment overhaul that had the potential to create rifts wasn't a concern, Whittingham said.
"If you are here, you are all on the same page," he said. "I couldn't worry about that."
Roderick and the other coaches were caught off guard with the fast change of events, but said it went as well as it could have gone. Both Roderick and Schramm have explored coaching opportunities elsewhere, with Roderick briefly leaving for Washington in January of 2009 only to return to the Utes, and Schramm interviewing for the Montana head coaching job in December 2009.
However, both viewed those ventures as opportunities to continue moving up the coaching ladder rather than escape routes from Utah. Both are happy enough to remain on Whittingham's staff and believe the addition of Chow has made them stronger as a coaching staff.
"The guy has national championships," Schramm said. "He is a wealth of knowledge and it's great to have him here. The offense is a lot different than what we've done in the past, but that is his knowledge, his offense, but he has been great to work with and is open to ideas. It's been awesome."
Rather than a step back, the changes have given Roderick a second chance to learn from the man who coached him at BYU when he was a receiver in 1997 and 1998.
"Every single day you come to work as a coach you are trying to learn from the people you work with," he said. "If you're not learning, you're not going to keep progressing as a coach."
Chow has made several changes to Utah's offense to meet Whittingham's desire of a more ground-based game. However, he views his main responsibility as tutoring quarterback Jordan Wynn.
Chow built his reputation molding young players into successful quarterbacks, including Heisman Trophy winners Ty Detmer, Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart, and he believes he can help most with Wynn, who is still learning how to lead the Utes as he heads into his junior year.
"Kyle said he wanted me to help with a philosophical stance with Jordan," Chow said. "I know I can help with that."
The two have spent a lot of time together in the film room and on the field, working on routes, working on timing and working on the mental part of the game. By all accounts, Wynn has entered the season more mature and more prepared to be the team leader.
He has often referred to the junior class as one that wants to "take over," and lead the Utes to victory. If that scenario plays out, bringing Chow aboard will go from being viewed as a risk by some outsiders to an overwhelming success.
Current duties • Coaching tight ends, overseeing development of quarterback Jordan Wynn.
Previously • Spent 2008-10 as UCLA's offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.
Current duties • The addition of Chow means Roderick moves back to coaching the receivers, a position he held from 2005-2009.
Previously • Was named co-coordinator for the 2010 season and called the plays for the second half of the season.
Running backs coach
Current duties • In charge of the running backs, a position he held from 2005-08.
Previously • He served as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach in 2009, then split coordinator duties with Roderick in 2010 while also coaching the tight ends, a position he coached at Montana in 2003-04.