SALT LAKE CITY — As far as Norm Chow is concerned, this week's football game might as well be in Pocatello or Pawtucket.
The former Cougar coach isn't about to rise or shout about playing in Utah County again.
The new Utah offensive coordinator's roots were planted in Provo for nearly three decades, but BYU's home clearly is no longer his.
Just ask him.
"There's nothing to it, "Chow said while downplaying questions about the Cougs, whom he coached from 1973-99. "It's gone. It's past."
Since leaving BYU last millennium — when it became apparent he wouldn't be LaVell Edwards' successor — Chow has hopped all over the football coaching map as an offensive coordinator.
He spent the year 2000 at North Carolina State — where he helped groom San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers. He then made a big splash, joining Pete Carroll at USC and tutoring the likes of Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart from 2001-04.
Chow took an NFL detour to the Tennessee Titans from 2005-07 before returning to SoCal for his last gig — a three-year stint at UCLA (2008-10).
Now at Utah assisting head coach Kyle Whittingham, Chow has had five different teams and a dozen years to allow feelings about BYU — bitter and/or sweet — to mellow.
"It's been such a long time. I'm not kidding ya. There's so much water under the bridge. I'm over it," Chow said. "People have asked me that (about BYU), and I don't mean to be rude, but I'm of a different era. I don't know those guys down there any more. I was a Rondo Fehlberg, Glen Tuckett kind of guy."
No offense to those former BYU athletic directors or Tom Holmoe, but Chow is now a Chris Hill kind of guy.
That development has brought his collegiate loyalties full circle, right back to where they started when he played on The Hill from 1965-67.
Yep, he's a Utah Man. Again.
"I'm glad to be here," said Chow, who earned All-WAC honors as a senior at Utah. "I met my wife here. I went to school here. I have my two degrees from here."
Continuing to reminisce about Utah for a moment, Chow fondly recalled living in his in-law's basement while he attended graduate school at the U.
"We couldn't afford to rent an apartment," he said, grinning.
Chow, whose contract no longer prevents rent payments, is also fond of Salt Lake City because it's where he was married and where his four children were born.
"So, yeah," he added, "there are a lot of good memories."
There is probably a plethora of good memories from his 27 seasons at BYU as well. He just doesn't want to talk about them — or his time in Provo or his feelings about his school's rival.
"It's been a long time," Chow said. "I'm in another era. It's just another game we've got to play."
With his focus elsewhere, Chow wasn't too chatty about the Cougars' new offensive coordinator who played under him for a couple of seasons in the late 1990s, either. He definitely doesn't regard Brandon Doman, a sophomore in Chow's final season at BYU, as a protege.
"I don't know much about Brandon. I never had Brandon Doman," Chow said. "He was a young guy when I was there. … I don't know the guy."
This will be Chow's third return trip to LaVell Edwards Stadium as a visitor.
His USC Trojans throttled BYU 42-10 in 2004, during Gary Crowton's final season at the helm of the Cougars.
The Y. wasn't nearly as hospitable in his next homecoming. The Cougars exacted big-time revenge in '08 when Chow's UCLA Bruins were on the bagel end of a 59-0 bashing.
"I've been back a couple of times," he recalled. "The minute the game starts, you look up and you've got a different color jersey and that's all that matters. It's all about our guys now."
Knowing part of his coach's resume, Utah quarterback Jordan Wynn found it interesting that Chow will make trips to two old stomping grounds in consecutive weeks.
"I don't think it'll be too bizarre. He's done a pretty good job, handled it well last week," Wynn said, referring to Utah's game at USC. " He's a coach. He's been around the game for a while, so I doubt this is his first time returning to a stadium."
Whittingham, who knows what it's like to return to BYU after changing allegiances, doesn't find it challenging to come back as the enemy.
"It's easy," the former BYU linebacker said. "It's just like the players — once the game is on and you're in game mode, you tune everything else out and you're focused on the task at hand, and the surroundings are really a non-factor."
BYU's gritty defense, on the other hand, has Chow's full attention.
"They're good. They're strong, they're sturdy," Chow said of Bronco Mendenhall's D. "They have a nice scheme. They obviously take advantage of the type of players they have. They do a nice job with it. It's going to be a real challenge. ... They do what they're supposed to do, and it's a sign of a well-coached team."
Chow will be up in the booth for the game, a place he said he likes to be so he can take out the emotions of the crowd and focus on his task at hand with a better view of the field.
On this night, it might also shield him from potential trash-talking or noisy distractions from Y. fans who used to cheer for his prolific offenses.
"I've been in the NFL. I've been a lot of places since then," he said. "I don't mean to belittle it. I don't mean to be cocky about it. I just don't know them (at BYU). It's a different era. It's a different deal.
"We're having to get our guys ready here," he added. "We've got our hands full now. So all of the emphasis is there."
Just like it would be in Pocatello or Pawtucket instead of Provo.
Cougars and Utes on the air
Utah (1-1) at BYU (1-1)
Saturday, 7:15 p.m. MT
LaVell Edwards Stadium, Provo
Radio: 102.7 FM, 700 AM, 1160 AM
Norm Chow's coaching career
2011: Utah offensive coordinator
2008-10: UCLA offensive coordinator
2005-07: Tennessee Titans offensive coordinator
2001-04: USC offensive coordinator
2000: North Carolina St. offensive coordinator
1982-99: BYU offensive play caller
1996-99: BYU asst. head coach/OC/QBs/WRs
1994-95: BYU asst. head coach/QBs/WRs
1986-93: BYU QBs/WRs
1982-85: BYU WRs/Recruiting coordinator
1979-81: BYU receivers
1978: BYU running backs
1976: BYU receivers
1975: BYU freshmen/JV coach
1973-74: BYU graduate assistant17 comments on this story
1970-72: Waialua HS (Hawaii) head coach
1965-67: Utah football player (All-WAC '67)
Source: Utah football media guide
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