Did Carroll expedite his off. coordinator's departure?
Posted: Thursday February 10, 2005 4:32PM; Updated: Friday February 11, 2005 12:58PM
Under Pete Carroll and Norm Chow, USC returned to prominence.
He's the equivalent of Yoda in college football. Soft spoken yet richly revered, he was the mastermind who trained legendary Jedi for generations. Whether it was Steve Young, Jim McMahon or Ty Detmer in the 20th century or Phillip Rivers, Carson Palmer or Matt Leinart in the 21st. Norm Chow kept churning out one All-American quarterback after another, always scheming up high-scoring offenses and winning national championships along the way.
But after a 32-year assistant-coaching career at Brigham Young, North Carolina State and USC, Chow jumped to the NFL on Wednesday after being named the Titans' offensive coordinator. Despite Chow moving onto the professional ranks, doubling his salary and putting himself in a position to be a head coach in the future if he can revive Tennessee's offense, controversy around Chow's departure arose following reports that USC head coach Pete Carroll did everything but push Chow out of Heritage Hall's towering glass doors.
What? Did you think we were going to get a high-profile breakup in Los Angeles without a little bit of drama?
Neither Chow nor Carroll will confirm there was a rift in their relationship; in fact both say they don't have a problem with one another. The only premise we have for saying there was a feud is anonymous quotes from some associates who said Chow felt "hurt" and "upset" by the way he was treated by Carroll. But read between the lines and it is clear this breakup was as amicable as the Liza Minnelli-David Gest split.
Chow never wanted to leave the college game. If he had it his way he would be a head coach at a major university. His ideal job would have been to take over the struggling Stanford program, but it was offered to former Pittsburgh coach Walt Harris instead.
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But something happened from the time Chow was turned down for the Stanford job to the time he accepted the Titans position this week. The beginning of this saga probably can be traced to Dec. 15, when USC defensive line coach Ed Orgeron was named head coach at Ole Miss. Following his hiring, Orgeron offered the offensive coordinator job to Trojans receivers coach Lane Kiffin. The 29-year-old passed. Was it a simple case of wrong-place-at-the-wrong-time or was their something more?
It had been rumored for weeks Carroll was considering shaking up his staff. After winning back-to-back national championships, it made as much sense as taking a smooth-running Porsche into a Jiffy Lube. The person who would benefit the most from the shakeup was Kiffin. Under the wide range of scenarios Carroll had drawn up for his staff, the one constant was that Carroll and Kiffin, the son of Carroll's mentor and Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin, would assume greater roles with the offense.
Despite the fact that Chow had not been offered a head coaching job and was content with spending another season at USC, Carroll had a plan that, if Chow left, Kiffin would become the offensive coordinator and Oakland Raiders assistant Steve Sarkisian would return to his old position as the school's quarterbacks coach. Carroll reportedly discussed this with Sarkisian in Mobile, Ala., at the Senior Bowl. In the end, it came to fruition when Titans head coach Jeff Fisher, a former USC player, hired Chow.
After planning for his departure weeks in advance, Carroll recovered from the breakup quicker than Jennifer Lopez from a divorce, hiring Sarkisian on Thursday.