January 14, 2010
A few close followers out west have never quite gotten over the rift that forced a split in the original USC Dream Team, featuring head coach Pete Carroll on defense and quarterback guru Norm Chow on offense, after the Trojans hung 55 points on Oklahoma to take their first BCS championship in 2005. USC hasn't won another title since Chow was reportedly hustled aside to make room for rising assistants Lane Kiffin and Steve Sarkisian, and when word broke Tuesday night that SC was "getting the old band back together" under Kiffin and his right-hand recruiting muscle, Ed Orgeron, Chow was immediately regarded as the essential ingredient to the reunion -- so essential, in fact, that the search committee allegedly contacted Chow about returning to guide the offense on Tuesday morning, hours before it knew who the new head coach was going to be. Other rumors suggested Kiffin was hired based in part on his ability to deliver Chow.
That speculation may be overstating the point, but USC definitely wanted Chow back in the fold, and clearly expected to get him; early reports indicated it was all but a done deal as all hell broke loose in L.A. Tuesday night. Per ESPN Los Angeles today, though, Chow has officially told his old bosses not so fast, my friends:
Offensive coordinator Norm Chow will remain with UCLA next season and will not join Lane Kiffin at USC, his agent tells ESPN.
Chow's agent, Don Yee, tells ESPN that talks went no further than one brief contact with USC about the position.
UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel said he spoke with Chow on Wednesday afternoon, adding his offensive coordinator "assured me he wants to be at UCLA."
Chalk his decision up to Bruin loyalty, or to the strength of old grudges with Kiffin, who replaced Chow as offensive coordinator of probably the most stacked lineup in recent memory -- eight members of the prolific 2005 Trojan offense, Kiffin's first as coordinator, went in the first two rounds of the '06 and '07 NFL Drafts -- despite his reputation as an underling among some members of the staff. Either way, the contentment/discontentment must be strong for Chow to pass up the opportunity to work with hyped quarterback Matt Barkley, who remains on track to join Chow protegés Matt Leinart and Carson Palmer as one of the best passers in USC history. Maybe he and Neuheisel believe sophomore-to-be Kevin Prince can be good enough eventually to start the same tradition at UCLA, but if Prince's first season is any indication, it will be a triumph just to keep him on the field.