Stanford has contacted USC in regard to offensive coordinator Norm Chow, who is considered a leading candidate to become the Cardinal’s next coach following the announcement of Buddy Teevens’ firing on Monday.
Chow, 58, has turned top-ranked USC into one of the nation’s most dynamic offensive teams in his three-plus seasons on Coach Pete Carroll’s staff. Quarterback Carson Palmer won the Heisman Trophy in 2002 and Matt Leinart is regarded as a front-runner for this year’s award.
Carroll and USC Athletic Director Mike Garrett said Monday that Stanford had made no official contact regarding Chow.
Chow also said he had not been contacted. “I have not spoken with anyone from Stanford,” he said.
However, USC sources confirmed that Stanford representatives have made unofficial inquiries with USC regarding Chow in the last week or two.
Stanford Athletic Director Ted Leland did not return a phone call seeking comment. A Stanford spokesman said the school would not comment on the personnel search process.
Stanford was 10-23 in three seasons under Teevens, who was hired after Tyrone Willingham left to become coach at Notre Dame. The Cardinal finished 2-9 in 2002 and went 4-7 in each of the last two seasons.
“It was an extremely difficult decision, but I simply felt that the program was in need of new direction and leadership,” Leland said Monday at a news conference. “It’s a tough day that we find ourselves in, a tough place, I guess. I am comfortable with the process we’ve gone through. I am comfortable with the decision.”
Teevens, who has two years remaining on his contract, appeared to be safe when Stanford began this season 4-2. The Cardinal was 2-0 and led top-ranked USC, 28-17, at halftime before the Trojans came back to win, 31-28, in their Pacific 10 Conference opener Sept. 25 at Stanford.
The Cardinal, however, lost its final five games, including a season-ending 41-6 defeat by rival California that apparently sealed Teevens’ fate.
Leland said a search for Teevens’ successor would begin immediately, but did not give a timeline for making a hire. He said his focus was an offense-minded coach.
Teevens, 48, is the first Stanford football coach to be fired since Jack Elway was dismissed in 1988 after a 3-6-2 season. Teevens met with Leland last week, learned of his dismissal Sunday morning and met with his players Monday afternoon.
“Unfortunately, it’s a win-loss business, and I didn’t win enough ballgames,” Teevens said at the news conference announcing his firing. “The attitude I have is I do believe I improved the quality of the program. I appreciate the opportunity. When you look back, there are a lot of things that are, ‘could have, should have.’ ”
Carroll said Chow would be “a really good candidate” for the Stanford job. Asked if he would tell Stanford to wait until after Saturday’s game against UCLA to contact Chow, Carroll said: “They’ve got to do what they’ve got to do. I’ve known Ted Leland for a long time. He understands the situations coaches are in. He was a coach himself, so he’ll be most abiding, I’m sure, with whoever he talks to.”
Before the Trojans played in the 2003 Orange Bowl, Chow turned down an offer to become coach at Kentucky and took himself out of consideration for the Utah job that eventually went to Urban Meyer.
Chow interviewed last November for the Arizona job that eventually went to Mike Stoops.
But Chow said Monday that he remained interested in becoming a head coach.
“You have to listen to every opportunity,” he said.
Chow is believed to earn about $500,000 plus incentives annually at USC, which is more than Teevens reportedly made at Stanford.
But Stanford would otherwise appear to be a good fit for Chow, who earned a master’s degree in special education at Utah and a doctorate in educational psychology at Brigham Young.
Stanford also has a history of making progressive hires. Dennis Green and Willingham, both African American, became college head coaches at Stanford.
Chow’s departure to Stanford or another school could affect the Trojans on several fronts.
Leinart, a junior, has publicly maintained since the summer that he intended to return for his final season of eligibility rather than turn pro.
Leinart, however, is thought to be leaning toward entering the NFL draft, especially if teams in need of quarterbacks are high in the draft order. Chow’s status would almost certainly weigh in Leinart’s decision.
Associated Press contributed to this report.