Titans would be Chow's first NFL job

Updated: February 9, 2005, 12:43 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

Norm Chow will leave USC for the Tennessee Titans and will be introduced at a Wednesday morning news conference.

The Beginning Of The End?
The departure of offensive coordinator Norm Chow from USC to the NFL will not be the end of the Trojans' dominance. It may not be noticed at all this season, when the offense loses only two senior starters and returns a Heisman Trophy winner.

But it is the beginning of the end. To pretend that Oakland assistant Steve Sarkisian (should he return to USC) can churn out quarterbacks like a coach who has developed three Heisman Trophy winners (Ty Detmer, Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart), not to mention Philip Rivers, Steve Young, Robbie Bosco, Jim McMahon and Gifford Nielsen, is foolish.

Chow is a singular talent, and coach Pete Carroll decided, for reasons so far unknown, not to work to keep him. You can't help but think that a clash of egos caused Chow to leave. What's not to like about winning 33 of 34 games?

One of the more interesting hidden stories this season will be the progress of John David Booty, Rocky Hinds and Matt Sanchez, the three quarterbacks who will jockey to replace Leinart.

History tells us that dynasties can begin to crumble from within as well as without.

-- Ivan Maisel

Chow, 58, has accepted an offer from Titans coach Jeff Fisher on Tuesday to become the team's offensive coordinator, a position that will pay him nearly $1 million annually plus incentives, the Los Angeles Times reported Wednesday. This will be Chow's first job in the NFL after 32 seasons at Brigham Young, North Carolina State and USC.

"I'm fired up -- it's an exciting opportunity to get into the highest level of football," Chow told the newspaper. "But my family is very, very sad to leave USC because it's been such a great run."

"[The Titans are] taking a chance on a college guy, and I'm grateful for that," Chow told the Times.

Chow interviewed Friday with the Titans. Chow met in Nashville with Fisher, a USC alumnus, quarterback Steve McNair and other members of the Titans organization before returning to Los Angeles Friday night.

"The thing I'll miss the most is the players, the coaches and the fan base," Chow told the Times in a telephone interview. "It's such a unique place. I'm grateful to Pete Carroll for just giving us the opportunity to be a part of that."

Chow was considered the leading candidate to replace Mike Heimerdinger, who left to serve in the same capacity with the New York Jets. Fisher also interviewed assistant head coach George Henshaw and quarterbacks coach Craig Johnson from his own staff.

Chow is one of the highest-paid assistant coaches at the college level, earning about $500,000 a year. But it's widely known that Chow longs to run his own program -- an opportunity that would enable him to become his sport's first Asian-American head coach.

Chow has had only three known interviews for college head-coaching positions -- at Kentucky, Arizona and Stanford.

Arizona chose Mike Stoops, the brother of Oklahoma coach Bobby Stoops, a year ago, and Stanford picked Walt Harris three weeks ago.

"Very disappointing," Chow said of not being selected by Stanford. "But it lasted all of about two minutes. What can you do?"

His name came up again when Paul Pasqualoni was fired as the coach at Syracuse by new athletic director Daryl Gross, who left his post as associate athletic director at USC.

"I just think it's the wrong thing for me to pluck someone out of the program I just left," Gross said at the time. "That would be inappropriate."

Norm Chow
Chow

Syracuse later hired Texas co-defensive coordinator Greg Robinson.

Chow has helped groom Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart into Heisman Trophy winners at USC where the Trojans have won the national title the past two seasons. He spent 27 years at Brigham Young working with quarterbacks such as Heisman Trophy winner Ty Detmer, Steve Young and Jim McMahon -- a former teammate of Fisher's.

He left after the 1999 season and spent one year at North Carolina State, working with standout quarterback Philip Rivers. He was hired by the Trojans before the 2001 season.

Chow is the fifth assistant to leave USC since their championship season ended.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

ALSO SEE