Utah football: Norm Chow not distracted in facing his old team, UCLA
That Utah offensive coordinator Norm Chow is facing his old team Saturday is a subplot not lost on either side. However, both Utah's and UCLA's coaches are downplaying the situation.
This is the third time this year Chow has faced a team that he coached, with the Utes losing to USC and beating BYU.
Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said Chow handles the situation well because he is the "consummate professional" who diffuses the situation with a "smooth demeanor."
"It hasn't been any distraction," he said. "It has been all business as usual."
Chow served as the Bruins' offensive coordinator from 2008 to 2010 before joining Utah's staff.
"It's another game," Chow said when asked if Saturday's game meant anything special to him. "I am too old for all that. It's another game that these guys have to win to be bowl-eligible and I'm serious about that."
Whittingham didn't believe the Utes had any advantage with Chow now on Utah's staff as they prepare for the Bruins. However, UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel said Chow knows UCLA's personnel as well as anyone.
"It's going to be fun to square off with Norm," he said. "He is a great coach and certainly I have enjoyed my relationship with him. I pull for him as often as I can but he'll understand why I'm not this weekend."
While the relationship between Chow and Neuheisel has been described as rocky as the two had different opinions over UCLA's offense, with Neuheisel's desire to implement the "pistol" offense the UCLA coach said the two would go back to being "pals" after Saturday's game.
"I've been with Norm in the locker room when we've played people he has worked with before and he is very professional," he said. "He keeps it all about the game at hand. I don't know if it will have any extra 'umph' for him, but everybody who competes likes to whip the people who they work with and we understand that. At the end of the day, we'll go back to being pals."
Neuheisel was complimentary of Utah's defense, saying he'd been warned how good it was by Chuck Heater, who was Utah's cornerbacks coach in 2004 before joining Urban Meyer's staff at Florida.
"He raved about Kyle's preparation and ability to coach defense, and it's obvious on tape," Neuheisel said.