Norm Chow, the offensive mind who helped USC win two national titles, has agreed to join UCLA’s staff as offensive coordinator, sources familiar with the situation said.
Rick Neuheisel coveted Chow from the moment he was hired as Bruins coach in late December, but the chances of landing the 61-year-old coach were minuscule. That changed when Chow was fired by the Tennessee Titans on Jan. 14.
After taking a few days to discuss the situation with his family, Chow agreed to sign on across town from where he developed two Heisman Trophy-winning quarterbacks for USC. Chow spent four seasons with the Trojans. But after friction developed between him and Trojans Coach Pete Carroll, Chow left to become the Titans’ offensive coordinator in 2005.
UCLA officials declined to comment. Neuheisel and Chow did not respond to telephone calls for comment.
Chow has long been considered an innovative and effective offensive coordinator. He spent 18 seasons as offensive coordinator at Brigham Young, where he directed an aerial circus that won the national title in 1984. Under his guidance at USC, Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart won Heisman Trophies, and the Trojans won national titles in 2003 and 2004.
Carroll said of Chow’s hiring at UCLA: “It’s a good hire. He’s a good, good coach and knows his way around the conference. I’m sure the experience in the NFL will only enhance that.”
Chow had interviewed for the UCLA head coach job but withdrew his name, though sources at the university said he was already out of the running.
Neuheisel expressed immediate interest in Chow after being hired Dec. 29, but that seemed more a pipe dream as Chow had recently signed a two-year contract extension worth more than $1 million a season.
However, when Chow was fired, Neuheisel began a series of talks with Carter Chow, Chow’s son and agent.
Norm Chow, who has a home in the Los Angeles area, debated whether to take a year off, but after discussing the situation with his family decided to sign on with the Bruins.
The contract extension from the Titans worked in Neuheisel’s favor, as he is able to land a million-dollar assistant coach at a college-level salary. Chow will still be paid by the Titans, with his UCLA salary deducted from the sum.
Chow inherits an offense that suffered from anemia last season. The Bruins ranked 101st out of 119 NCAA Division I teams in passing offense and 92nd in scoring offense.
Times staff writer Gary Klein contributed to this report.