UCLA wants to talk to Norm Chow, and the chances of a significant conversation between Bruins Coach Rick Neuheisel and the veteran offensive coordinator increased dramatically Tuesday when the Tennessee Titans fired Chow after three seasons with the NFL team.
Chow, who interviewed to become UCLA's head coach in December, acknowledged Tuesday night that UCLA had contacted his oldest son, Carter, who is his agent. Chow, 61, has two years left on a contract that will pay him more than $1 million a year. UCLA is believed to have between $300,000 and $400,000 available for an offensive coordinator.
Asked if he was interested in joining the Bruins staff, Chow said, "At this point in time, I'm going to sit back and stay home and walk the dog and think about some stuff. My wife and I have been apart for three years and we're going to enjoy being together."
This season, the Titans were 10-6 and made the playoffs for the first time since 2003. They lost to San Diego, 17-6, in an AFC wild-card game. The Titans were 21st overall in total offense but had only nine touchdown passes.
"I appreciate all of the hard work and contributions he made to the organization during his time here, but I have decided to go in a different direction," Fisher said in the statement.
Chow said he was initially shocked when Fisher called him to inform him that he would not be retained.
"I thought we were making good progress," Chow said. "But Coach Fisher certainly has the prerogative to do what he wants. I enjoyed my time in the NFL and it's time to move on."
Neuheisel had said he would call Chow after being hired on Jan. 5. But Neuheisel was holding off on naming an offensive coordinator this week until he had a chance to talk to Chow, a source familiar with the situation said. Neuheisel is believed eager to make a hire in a short time frame.
If Chow were to take another job, the Titans would only be responsible for the difference in salaries.
USC Coach Pete Carroll praised Chow and was among those who thought Chow could wind up in Westwood.
"I don't know anything about the circumstances, and all, but he's such a good coach he'll get a real good situation, I'm sure," Carroll said. "He might wind up over [at UCLA] now."
But Chow reiterated that he was in no hurry to make a decision. He cited Carroll's year away from coaching after he was fired by the New England Patriots following the 1999 season. USC hired Carroll in December 2000.
"I may take a step back for a year, try to learn and grow from being off," Chow said. "Pete did that one year. A lot of people do that."