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The Chow controversy (cont.)

Posted: Thursday February 10, 2005 4:34PM; Updated: Thursday February 10, 2005 4:34PM


Chow will not say publicly he was forced out, but those close to the situation say Carroll basically opened the door for his offensive coordinator's departure. One of the reasons Chow wanted to leave was the uncertainty he had regarding his role on the team. He was told there was a chance that he would be named assistant head coach and quarterbacks coach, which sounds like a promotion and an expansion of his responsibilities but, in reality, was a demotion. Carroll never gave Chow the commitment he felt he deserved from his head coach.


While Carroll will receive heat from fans and media members who believe he pushed out Chow, it's not clear if the tension was caused from a clash of egos. Or perhaps it simply was a situation in which Carroll felt the need to expedite Chow's imminent departure in favor of having two of college football's top young offensive assistants in Kiffin and Sarkisian.

Carroll believes there is no one person bigger than the program. No matter how many Heisman winners, All-Americans or assistant coaches he loses, Carroll believes he has USC in a position where it will be successful no matter who leaves. He said as much after he lost Palmer and Mike Williams, and it's what he saying now that Chow is gone.

People are surprised that Carroll didn't get down on his knees and beg Chow to stay, or plead with the administration to give Chow a raise, which was already the highest of all college football assistants. That's not Carroll. He wanted Chow to stay (albeit under uncertain circumstances) but wasn't going to try to change his mind if he wanted to leave.

Some people in the USC athletic department believe Carroll might be relieved to see Chow leave because Carroll had grown weary of the rumors surrounding Chow's imminent departure or because Carroll was tired of hearing that Chow was the reason for the Trojans' success on offense. That kind of talk went against Carroll's program-first ideology. It was also not true in Carroll's mind since Chow didn't have the carte blanche on offense that people thought.

Not only did Carroll assume a greater offensive role following the 2001 season, he promoted Kiffin to "passing-game coordinator" last season. It was a title that Chow, the most proficient passing guru in college football, didn't love and at times resented as was apparent during one practice before the Orange Bowl when the two were involved in a shouting match.

Regardless of what led to the break up of Carroll and Chow, the Trojans are in amazing shape heading into next season. Despite losing five assistant coaches in the five weeks following its Orange Bowl win, USC returns nearly its entire offense, including Heisman-winning quarterback Leinart and tailback Reggie Bush, and the majority of its defense. Combine that roster with three consecutive stellar recruiting classes, including a top-three class this year, and it's hard to say that the Force is still not with the Trojans, with or without their Yoda.