Now that the NCAA has deigned to give its belated blessing to the University of Hawai’i’s Sept. 2 football season opener against Southern California, the Warriors should waste little time re-punching in area code 310.
Specifically the cell phone of Norm Chow.
Chow, a Punahou School graduate and former Waialua High coach, is UCLA’s offensive coordinator. And he’s the man the Warriors know they most need to consult on game-planning for the Trojans.
UH figures to be a whopping underdog against USC in the nationally televised game, and its best chance to have any chance is to pick Chow’s brain on the tendencies and vulnerabilities of the Trojans. Get him in a room with the UH staff, offense especially, kick around ways to mitigate the advantages USC has in speed and talent.
The Warriors can watch video of USC and Tennessee (head coach Lane Kiffin’s team last year) until they are bleary-eyed. And they can exhaust their Rolodex calling other coaches. But to best get inside the craniums of the people who will be calling the shots for the Trojans with one-stop shopping, they need the benefit of Chow’s experience and considerable insight.
Kiffin, USC’s new head coach, learned the rudiments of calling an offense in four seasons at Chow’s elbow with the Trojans. Chow, the offensive coordinator at the time, was tasked by then-head coach Pete Carroll to mentor Kiffin in the same way that Kiffin’s father, Monte, was Carroll’s tutor decades earlier.
It was Carroll who, when he drove Chow to the NFL following an ego-fueled collision, made Lane the offensive coordinator.
But as well as Chow knows Kiffin the son, he also understands Monte Kiffin, the father. And, for the Warriors, that is the biggest and more important half of the equation, because their best hope of winning is in scoring points.
The senior Kiffin, mastermind of the Tampa cover 2 defense during 26 NFL seasons, was junior’s defensive coordinator at Tennessee, a role he now fills at USC.
Chow has gone against Kiffin in the NFL and, last year, in college, where UCLA upset Tennessee in Knoxville.
Indeed, there might be only one person better suited to briefing the Warriors on the Kiffins and that is somebody — Carroll — they won’t be getting any help from.
Of course, for all his Hawaii bonds, Chow might not be automatic, either.
Chow’s friendship with the Lee brothers, Ron and Cal, and their family, dates back a half-century. He played against them in the old ILH, worked for their mother in the Punahou cafeteria, where, it is said, she made sure he kept on weight despite playing three sports.
And when Ron was demoted from UH offensive coordinator, ultimately resigning last month, Chow, like a lot of Lee acquaintances, did not take it well to the point indications are he might have rebuffed an early UH overture.
But, then, despite USC’s curious forced courtship of Chow for its offensive coordinator vacancy six months ago, the Kiffins probably aren’t on the Chow Christmas card list. And Chow, with prodding from Cal Lee, might be willing to share some insights this time around.
Before this summer gets too far along and UCLA begins its camp, the Warriors ought to fly Chow over and get him together with their staff. With USC bearing down on the Warriors, it could be Chow or never.
Reach Ferd Lewis at firstname.lastname@example.org.