Tom Smart, Deseret News
EL PASO, Texas — Norm Chow is still wearing red. The newly hired head coach at Hawaii is finishing up his duties as Utah's offensive coordinator in Saturday's Sun Bowl game against Georgia Tech.
"I'm not even worried about anything else," Chow said after the Utes' practice on Tuesday. "The focus is all here."
Chow has had quite a week. After being formally introduced as the Warriors' coach at a press conference in Hawaii last Thursday, Chow celebrated Christmas with his entire family at his Los Angeles home. He returned to Utah on Sunday night and was on the charter flight to El Paso on Monday morning.
"I'm fortunate to be here," Chow said. "I'm grateful to Kyle for letting me be here and let's get this one done."
Chow, who spent less than a day in Hawaii and only took a quick look at his new office, will return to Los Angeles after the Sun Bowl to interview candidates for positions on his staff. Recruiting resumes on Jan. 4.
For now, though, Chow is a Utah man.
"He's all in," said Utah coach Kyle Whittingham. "We wish him the best. It's an opportunity that in my estimation is long overdue. It's something that he's wanted for quite sometime."
Having Chow finish out his tenure as offensive coordinator, Whittingham noted, is working out well.
"Most times it's best to finish the season the way you started — if at all possible," he said.
Chow is emotional about his impending departure.
"I enjoyed Kyle. I enjoyed the players. I went to school here," he said. "I thought I was going to finish here. I really did. I don't know. Life is so screwy. You know what I mean?"
Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson, a former Hawaii assistant, said he's excited that Chow is now at the helm.
"When I saw that he got the job I was really happy for him," Johnson said. "It's well-deserved. He's had a great career and I think he'll do a good job."
DANCING KYLE: When the Utes arrived at the airport Monday, they were greeted by a Mariachi band as well as Sun Bowl representatives. Whittingham wound up participating in a welcoming dance with the group.
"That was something that may not have been a highlight," he acknowledged..
ALTITUDE ATTITUDE: Johnson downplayed the altitude and had a quick quip when asked if the Yellow Jackets did any extra conditioning to prepare for the game.
"We went to the highest water tower that we could find," he said while joking that they ran around on it. "... We conditioned, the same we've always conditioned."
It is what it is, he added, while noting that you just get ready to play and hope you're in good shape.
TWEET TALK: Whittingham responded to a question about wide receiver DeVonte Christopher with a retort about the player's infamous Twitter remark about Boise State (calling them Girlse State) before last year's Las Vegas Bowl.
"Did he tweet something this week?" Whittingham mused before praising Christopher for being the team's top receiver.
The press conference discussion eventually turned back to Twitter, however, and the lesson that Whittingham said he hopes Christopher and everyone else in the program may have learned.
"Our team has been pretty good about that. We're not perfect. We have our issues from time to time and I think our guys have handled themselves very well this year — for the most part," Whittingham said before noting that he hasn't put a ban on tweets. "We have our certain parameters and guidelines as far as Twitter and Facebook and they've done a nice job adhering to all those guidelines."
As long as common sense and good judgment are used, Whittingham has no problem with it.
"I hate to take those mediums away," he said. "It's part of their life."
EXTRA POINTS: Starting left guard Miles Mason is questionable with a right elbow injury. Whittingham said it will be a game-time decision. ... Starting defensive tackle Dave Kruger has been bothered by a sore knee. ... The Utes are scheduled to visit Fort Bliss today and eat with the troops. ... The Utes and Yellow Jackets joined fans in a bowling event called "Bowl before the Bowl" at a 40-lane alley in El Paso on Tuesday night.
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