A Tough Job Ahead For Chow

Steve Murray
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Wednesday - December 28, 2011
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Norm Chow’s hiring already has energized UH fans. AP photo

A familiar refrain was heard at Washington Place a week ago welcome home. Two hours earlier at the press conference on campus, Norm Chow gave everyone in attendance what they were hoping for, gratitude, bold predictions and perhaps most important, a humbleness that always will play well to local audiences.

As Gov. Neil Abercrombie said at the reception, no day will be better than the first.

He’s right. Chow has a difficult job ahead, and even a fortunate son has a limited time before the political whims, even those that helped to usher in his hiring, start looking in other directions.

Chow doesn’t have the rebuilding job June Jones did more than a decade ago, but in some ways the road back will be tougher. For all the bad fortune that befouled the program during the reign of Fred VonAppen, he left his successor with some serious talent, including six who earned all-WAC first-team honors in that famed turnaround season.

Chow takes over a team with a serious lack of talent, a changed conference landscape and a fan base that has for all intents and purposes abandoned the program.

The schedule is, for the most part, out of his hands and it will be a few years before we know the success of his recruiting philosophy, but his efforts to re-energize the fan base are off to a roaring start.

The announcement of his presence at the UH/Auburn basketball game that same night produced an uproar that would have drowned out the crowd response from any game up to that point. Fan message boards, by their nature a fickle forum of varied opinions and temperaments and whose contributors debated every rumored candidate ad nausea, seem to agree on Chow’s qualifications and the appropriateness of the hire. A colleague at the Washington Place reception said Chow had Jones’ presence without his slickness. The latter wasn’t a compliment. His refusal to discuss money issues was seen by another as a further sign of local humility, and his ability to communicate his message a vast improvement over Greg McMackin, whose lack of communication skills was a constant area of frustration.

Age remains a concern, as it was in this very space a few weeks ago, but the thoroughness of his press conference and sheer volume of his accomplishments make it hard to find fault and makes age concerns seem as ridiculous and ill-informed as those who questioned whether an Asian-American could coach a D-1 football team.

Before becoming jealous of the attention his former assistant received for USC’s success, current Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll called Chow “arguably the best offensive coordinator in the history of college football, certainly in terms of championships and wins and people he has coached.”

Since then Chow has done nothing to damage that reputation and arrives on campus as perhaps the most accomplished coach in university history.

Welcome home? Indeed.


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