After 35 years of staff coaching positions, Norm Chow finally finds himself as the head coach of a football team. Nary a better place than Hawaii for it to finally happen, as Chow returns to his native state in what could likely be the capstone to his coaching career.
The accomplished assistant now has the task of changing Hawaii back from that cute little team on the islands into a consistent winner like June Jones had done.
His credentials as an offensive mind really can't be questioned at this point. He was the QB coach or offensive coordinator for Ty Detmer, Steve Sarkisian, Phillip Rivers, Carson Palmer, and Matt Leinart in college, and he coached Vince Young to NFL Rookie of the Year status during his brief stint with the Titans.
His time at UCLA had fans and experts wondering if his time in CFB might be over, but his 2011 effort at Utah showed that when you have a great offensive mind running the show, it's usually best to let him do his thing instead of forcing an offensive scheme upon him. (Pistol Rick was later fired, if more evidence is needed.)
After helping Jon Hays and Utah's gimpy offense along to an 8-5 record last year, Chow takes control of Hawaii's program. One facet of Chow Time at Hawaii is how will Chow do as the head man of a program? Great schemers and even great teachers don't always do well managing an entire program, but I don't have to tell BYU fans that (see 2001-2004). Can Chow lead, teach, inspire, motivate, discipline, and play the media game like a head coach? Can he keep the team united, unlike the offense/defense discord of BYU's Crowton years?
The other facet of Chow's first year is how well Hawaii can run his offense. Chow's more traditional offense -- with use of tight ends, sometimes two-back sets, and the quarterback spending a good amount of time under center -- is obviously very different than the four- and five-wide shotgun the Warriors have used almost exclusively since 1999.
There was an extreme lack of depth at quarterback, but it appears the job might go to 6-3 lefty Sean Schroeder, a junior who transferred from Duke. That means that at the trigger position, an adjustment from the run-and-shoot to Chow's pro sets won't be as big of a deal, but such a dramatic change goes deeper. Are the offensive linemen the right type to block for Chow's scheme? Are there any capable tight ends or second-option running backs?
All those questions show that the transition might not be easy. By the time Hawaii arrives in Provo for its fourth game (Chow's fourth visit to Provo since leaving BYU), it should be clear whether or not the Warriors are doing it successfully.
How do you think Chow's Warriors will fare in year one?