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Utah football: Norm Chow and Hawaii in negotiations
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2011, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

The Utah Utes' offense could be heading into yet another transition year if Utah offensive coordinator Norm Chow says yes to Hawaii.

While Chow insisted nothing is finalized, negotiations are under way that could make him Hawaii's next head coach.

"There is obviously a couple things going on, but we are here now," he said. "There are a lot of rumors and that kind of stuff but we have to wait and see."

Chow's son, Carter, is his agent and did not return calls.

Chow said if he does accept the position, he would like to coach the Utes in the Sun Bowl against Georgia Tech on Dec. 31 as long as he isn't a distraction.

"It's all about them," Chow said of the players. "If I am a distraction I will leave immediately."

If the 65-year-old Chow takes the job, it would be a sort of homecoming since he is from Honolulu and began his coaching career at Waialua High School before joining BYU's staff as a graduate assistant.

Chow has 38 years of coaching experience but never has been a head coach.

"I've said so many times, I am just a guy who works hard," Chow said.

He was recommended by June Jones when Jones left Hawaii for SMU in 2008, but Hawaii instead hired Greg McMackin, the defensive coordinator at the time.

McMackin and the school reached a retirement agreement earlier this month following a disappointing 6-7 season that gave McMackin a 29-25 record over four years.

He will receive a buyout of $600,000, about half of the $1.1 million the school owed him on a five-year contract that was supposed to expire Jan. 15, 2013.

Before he was hired by Utah in January, Chow spent three seasons as UCLA's offensive coordinator.

UCLA's offense struggled to produce, and a difference in philosophies between UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel led to Chow's departure.

Utah coach Kyle Whittingham didn't pass up the opportunity to hire Chow and shuffled his staff to make room for Chow by demoting co-offensive coordinators Aaron Roderick and Dave Schramm to the receivers and running backs coaching positions, respectively.

Roderick, who was calling the plays at the end of the 2010 season, would be a logical in-house choice, although Whittingham said he would take his time to see what candidates are available.

"I have a short list in the back of my mind, but you are always looking and evaluating and you have some contingency plan," he said.

Whittingham said he wouldn't rush into a decision, saying it was a time of year when he wouldn't be pressed to name a new coordinator in a hurry.

"It starts with a short list and I've got three or four go-to guys in this profession I lean on and confer with them and get ideas and names and thoughts and formulate a plan," he said. "I get with our coaches and see if they have any ideas and gather a lot of information."

The Utes have had four offensive coordinators in seven years under Whittingham.

Last week Whittingham said he understands his assistants' desires to apply for coaching opportunities, but admitted it can be challenging to adjust to new offensive coordinators.

"Certainly it creates some learning curves," he said. "More so on offense than defense. We've run the same scheme defensively for years and whoever is the defensive coordinator runs the same scheme. I shouldn't say it is definitive, but that is how it has gone. There is a little more of a learning curve and transition on offense."

A three-time national Assistant Coach of the Year, Chow has served as the offensive coordinator for three national championship teams (BYU 1984, USC 2003 and 2004).

Chow is not only respected for his offensive coaching abilities, but also for his recruiting ties to Hawaii and California. Those ties have helped the Utes land several sought-after recruits, including 2012 commits Travis Wilson, a quarterback out of San Clemente, Calif., and lineman Alexandru Ceachir, out of Santa Monica College.

Whittingham said he wasn't too concerned Chow's departure could affect recruiting.

"That is always a concern and it can work against you, but maybe you attract some guys, too, because of the new guy," he said. "It can be a give-and-take situation."

lwodraska@sltrib.com

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