Thursday, January 11, 2001
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Posted on: Thursday, January 11, 2001

Chow's climb to the top no surprise

By Ferd Lewis
Advertiser Columnist

Through all the touchdowns, the plethora of passing records and parade of All-America quarterbacks he helped develop at Brigham Young University, coach Norm Chow maintained an "aw, shucks" approach to success.

When he was named the national assistant coach of the year by a magazine a while back, he said, "who, me?" — although few who knew Chow or his work were surprised at all.

When he took over North Carolina State’s offense last year and helped the Wolfpack to an 8-4 record, Chow cited "a lot of good luck."

But the "I’m-just-a-guy-from-Palolo Valley-trying-to-win-a-few-games" shrug no longer covers a lengthening list of credits.

When Southern California wooed him to become its offensive coordinator this week, turning over the keys to the offense of one of the most storied programs in college football, it was yet another yardstick of how far the former Punahou School lineman has come.

When the Trojans offered a contract that could make Chow the highest paid assistant coach in the country, it said even more.

Though terms of the three-year deal were not made public, speculation has been that he will earn a minimum $250,000 per year at USC. The Raleigh (N.C.) News & Observer said the contract could, with incentives, pay $1 million over three seasons.

More even than Chow would have received had he gotten the University of Hawaii head coaching job that he and Fred vonAppen were among the finalists for in 1995.

Two decades spent at LaVell Edwards’ side at BYU were good for both Chow and the Cougars. And, for a time it looked like a coaching career that had started at Waialua High in 1970 would eventually finish at BYU, too.

But with a change in administrations and in thinking at BYU, Chow saw the handwriting on the wall last year. "I knew LaVell was going to (retire) and I’d be looking for a job soon," Chow said.

The administrators that had encouraged him to reject other job offers over the years and stay at BYU were gone and so, too, was any shot of being considered as Edwards’ replacement.

But the way it has turned out has allowed Chow to make a name for himself away from the shadow of BYU. It has given him an opportunity to apply his talents elsewhere before a wider audience.

"What do they say, things usually turn out for the best?’" Chow said. "They have for me. I’m humbled to be working at one of the top colleges in the country. When you think of the big names in football, you think of Notre Dame, Nebraska, Alabama and USC."

Which, as Chow likes to say, "isn’t bad for a kid from Palolo Valley."

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