Norm Chow under fire at UCLA
With UCLA's offense struggling mightily this season, Bruins offensive coordinator Norm Chow is starting to come under some heat and head coach Rick Neuheisel said Monday that no decision has been made on Chow's future.
The Bruins are 111th out of 120 Football Bowl Subdivision teams in total offense, 117th in passing offense and 104th in scoring, but Neuheisel said he would wait until the end of the season to evaluate his coaching staff.
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"I'm going to evaluate everything in our program at the end of the finish line," Neuheisel said. "I'm not making any assumptions or assertions as to what I have to decide at the conclusion of the season."
Chow, considered one of the top offensive minds in football, has coached three Heisman Trophy-winning quarterbacks in his career, and directed some of the nation's most prolific offenses while at BYU and USC. He said Monday that he had not discussed his future at UCLA with Neuheisel but that he wants to come back next season.
He also acknowledged that as head coach, Neuheisel has the right to let him go if he sees fit.
"I'm a big guy," Chow said. "I've been around this business a long time. I've been fired before. It's part of the deal. Obviously it's something he's thinking through. That's his prerogative as a head coach."
Chow agreed to a two-year contract extension over the summer, although Neuheisel said that agreement has yet to make it through University of California approval procedures. Neuheisel said the extension showed a commitment to Chow.
"Contractually, absolutely," Neuheisel said.
Neuheisel added that it would be "unusual" for a coach to get fired so soon after signing a contract extension but reiterated that he hasn't yet begun thinking about the future of the coaching staff.
"I haven't ventured down that path," Neuheisel said. "The evaluation period will start as soon as the season is over. Once we get to that point, then we'll make the decisions as to what's the best thing for UCLA football, just as my bosses do. My bosses have to do that as well."
Athletic director Dan Guerrero has repeatedly given Neuheisel the vote of confidence this season, to which Neuheisel said he was "excited to hear it," then said he needed the season to end before he could make those kinds of decisions.
"I want to have that same chance to sit and make those determinations," Neuheisel said. "When I can focus solely on it. I believe in Norm Chow. I think he's a great coach; I think he's a great guy. I've got to decide what's best for UCLA football; and I can't do that right now. I've got to figure out right now what we can do to beat Arizona State."
The UCLA offense has been hampered by injuries and other attrition, with quarterback Kevin Prince out for the season after knee surgery and three returning starters on the offensive line missing because of injury, academic probation and a Mormon mission.
"No one is more disappointed in the offense than I am," Chow said. "Whatever needs to get done needs to get done. You won't hear any excuses out of me."
Neuheisel said the team would prepare as normal for this week's game against Arizona State and for the season finale against USC on Dec. 4, and after that, he'd begin to look at what lies ahead for UCLA's coaching staff.
"At that point, as is the norm with all organizations and all teams, you evaluate," Neuheisel said. "You make the decisions as to what is the best course of action to go forward ... but you don't do that until you get to the finish line. Because to do that is not fair to the enterprise that we all signed on to undertake."
Peter Yoon covers UCLA for ESPNLosAngeles.com.