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Utah Utes football: Utes hire Tim Davis, Norm Chow still at UCLA — for now

Published: Monday, Aug. 31 2015 8:23 p.m. MDT

Norm Chow (Associated Press) Norm Chow (Associated Press)

SALT LAKE CITY — While speculation about Norm Chow's future continues, the University of Utah has hired Tim Davis to coach its offensive line.

Davis, who was an offensive tackle for the Utes from 1978-80 and an assistant coach from 1990-96, fills a vacancy created by Blake Miller's departure to Memphis.

Prior to spending the past three seasons at Minnesota, Davis was Alabama's director of player personnel and an assistant coach with the Miami Dolphins, USC and Wisconsin.

"This will be Tim Davis's second time around at Utah and he brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to our program," Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said in making the announcement. "Tim is known for developing a strong rapport with his players and he will be a great addition to our staff. He has coached at some of the premier football programs in the country over the course of his career and that experience should prove valuable as we head into the Pac-12 Conference."

Tim Davis (University of Minnesota) Tim Davis (University of Minnesota)

Davis helped USC win a pair of national championships and make three BCS bowl appearances during his previous tenure in the league.

"I'm very excited to be back home. This place is phenomenal. A lot has changed in Salt Lake City since we left, but it still feels like home," Davis said in a released statement. "The expectation level has risen so high here. I felt like the Sugar Bowl was a statement game for the country about what Utah football has become and I'm excited to be a part of it."

The hiring of Davis leaves Utah with one coaching vacancy. Assistant head coach John Pease, who also oversaw the defensive line, retired after the BYU game and has yet to be replaced.

Speculation, fueled by a "tweet" from Rivals/Yahoo national college football writer Tom Dienhart on Wednesday, indicated that the Utes were expected to hire Davis to coach the offensive line and former BYU assistant Norm Chow to be the offensive coordinator.

The latter has yet to materialize, or even be acknowledged by Whittingham for that matter. He declined to comment on Chow when reached by telephone earlier in the week.

Utah associate athletics director Liz Abel said there was "absolutely no updates" when asked about the situation late Thursday afternoon. Abel explained that head coaches at the U. hire their own assistants and that all hirings are then announced by the sports information department.

UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel told the Orange County Register that Wednesday's speculation about Chow was premature.

"Nothing can happen fast. I have a wide receiver job open and a defensive coordinator job open. I've talked to some coaches and certainly made a lot of calls and some ideas on the way things can work," Neuheisel said. "And I've also talked about a redistribution of assignments within the coaching staff. I'm still toying with that idea. In trying to get this right I'm willing to look outside the box. With respect to Norm, Norm is a coach on our staff."

Possibly, however, in a role other than offensive coordinator.

"I'm considering a lot of different ways to put the offensive staff back together as well as the defensive staff," Neuheisel told the newspaper. "Norm is a very talented coach. He can coach lots of positions. What's best for us as I put the thing together is still to be determined."

San Francisco 49ers offensive coordinator Mike Johnson is mentioned as Chow's possible successor at the helm of UCLA's offense.

"Mike and I are old friends and we've had conversations and he's interested in this wide receiver position. But it hasn't been determined in what role he'd coach and how that would all get pieced together," Neuheisel explained in his interview with the Register. "And he's still got a contract with the 49ers that he has to make sure he protects himself and his family. Those are things that cause this to be very, very premature."

Neuheisel added that Johnson has been a coordinator and is capable of doing the job. However, he said it's still too early to tell how roles and responsibilities would be delegated if Johnson joins the UCLA staff.

"Mike is not hired here. He still has a lot of other offers out there," Neuheisel continued. "And Norm Chow is still on our staff — absolutely."

The Los Angeles Times reported that Chow's financial situation likely needs to be resolved first before Johnson's possible involvement is solidified.

Chow signed a two-year contract extension last summer that is reportedly worth $1 million. According to the Times, Chow will not receive the balance of the deal if he quits. If he is fired, though, he'll receive the full amount. Should Chow take another job, however, the amount of his new deal will be subtracted from what he is due by UCLA.

The newspaper also reported that the Bruins and Chow are expected to work on a settlement. Negotiations, though, could go into next week.

Messages to Whittingham and Chow seeking comment Thursday were not immediately returned.

Aaron Roderick and Dave Schramm are currently serving as Utah's co-offensive coordinators.

e-mail: dirk@desnews.com

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