Utah Utes football: Norm Chow eager for new opportunity

Published: Sunday, Jan. 23 2011 10:57 p.m. MST

SALT LAKE CITY — Norm Chow is eager to get started as Utah's offensive coordinator.

Although he won't officially be on the payroll until Tuesday or Wednesday when a contract is signed, Chow has already checked out the roster on the Internet and is aware that the Utes are ranked No. 25 in an early poll.

Chow is anxious to learn much more upon his scheduled arrival in Salt Lake City on Friday. He'll come to town after assisting with some recruiting in southern California, where he has spent the past three seasons as UCLA's offensive coordinator.

"I'm excited and enthused and I can't wait to get started," Chow said. "But you have to temper some of that enthusiasm because you have to go to work and put a plan together, because you're playing against some awfully good folks."

Chow gives the Utes an experienced hand as they move to the Pac-12 next season. Besides his tenure at UCLA, he helped lead USC to a pair of national championships.

Chow, thus, has a pretty good idea what lies ahead for Utah. Although respectful of the Mountain West Conference, a league with many foes Chow faced in his 27 years as an assistant coach at BYU, things won't be the same.

"I think the Pac-10 is obviously a whole different deal. I think top to bottom is what makes the difference," he said. "The Pac-10 top to bottom, there are awfully good teams with awfully talented players and talented coaches — a lot of guys with NFL experience and so forth. It's going to be hard. No question about it."

Chow noted it'll be a new adventure for everyone at Utah and he's glad to be a part of it.

Overhauling the offense, though, isn't likely.

"Obviously, you're not going to change the whole deal. I mean, they were 10-3 last year so they must be doing a lot of things right," Chow said. "Hopefully we can just come in and tweak this and tweak that."

The plan, he explained, is simple.

"I'm going to do what Kyle wants me to do. I do know that," Chow said. "Kyle and I will talk philosophically, and we have some already."

The Utes may end up under center a little more often and establish more of a downhill run game next season.

"Everybody's trying to get better and we will do the same," Chow said. "But we're not going to go in there and make wholesale changes, not when you're 10-3."

Wide receiver DeVonte Christopher, a junior-to-be who led the Utes with 55 receiving yards per game last season, is confident the offense will do whatever it takes to be successful.

"That's Utah football — adapt to the change of pace in the game and everything," Christopher said. "I think we're going to do a real good job of adjusting and getting ready for the Norm Chow offense and going to wherever coach leads us."

It'll be exciting, he added, to "be coached by a legendary offensive coordinator like Norm Chow."

Whittingham has yet to announce how he'll restructure the offensive coaching staff. Aaron Roderick and Dave Schramm were the co-coordinators last season. Roderick played for Chow at BYU and newly hired offensive line coach Tim Davis worked with him at USC. Chow followed the playing career of quarterbacks coach Brian Johnson and is familiar with Schramm. Running backs coach Aaron Alford could switch back to defense where he used to work with the secondary.

Such decisions, though, are made by Whittingham.

"I'm not there to take someone's job away or anything like that," Chow said. "We're trying to win football games and obviously those guys have done a nice job."

Bringing Chow into the mix took shape when Whittingham called him about hiring Davis earlier in the month. The discussion took a turn when the friends spoke about working together as well.

"We got to talking and it all turned out good," said Chow, who joked that he'll need to find some red clothes now.

Moving on from UCLA-blue, he explained, went smoothly. Chow holds no bitterness towards Rick Neuheisel and the Bruins.

"I don't live life like that. There's no way," he said. "It is what it is. You know, we struggled and when you struggle then something needs to be done."

A parting settlement was reached and Chow landed at his alma mater.

"There's nothing to it. We worked and had a nice negotiation and everything got squared away," he said. "I'm looking forward to the next opportunity."

e-mail: dirk@desnews.com

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