UCLA Coach Rick Neuheisel confirmed to Dan Patrick on Fox Sports Radio this morning that Norm Chow is not going to USC. Why? It had nothing to do with loyalty to UCLA or money.
(Kiffin said he “anticipated” calling USC plays on UCLA station last night)
The past 48 hours there was been a tug of war between USC and UCLA over Chow. USC reportedly was wooing Chow to cross the street and rejoin the Trojans in order to reprise the offensive masterpiece he conducted at the Coliseum in the mid ’00s. While Chow was offensive coordinator at USC, Lane Kiffin was an offensive assistant who also happened to be very close to Pete Carroll. (Monte Kiffin was Carroll’s mentor.)
There’s plenty of conjecture that Lane Kiffin eventually helped undermine Chow with Carroll, leading to Chow’s eventual departure to the NFL’s Tennessee Titans and a strained relationship between the two. After Chow left the Trojans, Lane ascended to offensive coordinator and then assumed the same position with Tennessee, calling the plays for the Vols during his tenure in Knoxville.
After being pushed hard by Carroll to USC, Kiffin was hired by the school as head coach two days ago. As a condition for his hiring, Kiffin assured the USC coaching search committee, which included former USC quarterback Pat Haden, that he was willing to allow Chow to be in charge of the offense - a duty that Kiffin has always coveted.
Yesterday from Los Angeles, Pat Haden said this about Chow to Petros Papadakis and Matt Smith on the Petros and Money Show on Fox Sports Radio: “I think Norm Chow is the best offensive coach I’ve seen in 40 years of watching and covering college football.” (Kudos to show producer David Vassegh for booking Haden, the man behind the USC coaching curtain.)
We know now that the Kiffin hire was a package deal predicated on Ed Orgeron and Monte being on staff if Lane was to get the job. Another prerequisite was Lane’s willingness to take on Chow if Haden & Co. at USC could lure the current UCLA assistant across the street.
So if you’re Lane Kiffin and you know how fragile negotiations are between Chow and USC at the moment, what would you say if asked publicly if you wanted to call the plays?
We found out the answer yesterday.
During Kiffin’s introductory press conference at USC yesterday, Kiffin was asked if he would run the USC offense: “That would be my guess because that’s what I’ve always done.“
That sentiment, which shocked many with the knowledge that USC was in desperate pursuit of Chow, was also noted by Scott Wolf of the L.A. DAILY NEWS.
In a stunning coincidence, that comment by Kiffin was later deleted from the press conference transcript on the official USC website.
After Kiffin’s USC press conference, he also guested on the Petros and Money Show on Fox Sports Radio.
During the interview, he was asked by Matt Smith: “Do you want to calls the (offensive) plays at USC?”
Kiffin: “Yeah, I would anticipate that. … I would anticipate that because I’ve always done that … but you never know.”
Kiffin’s comment was broadcast live on the KLAC-AM in Los Angeles, the flagship radio home of UCLA football - Chow’s employer.
12 hours later Chow turned a multi-million dollar offer to join the USC coaching staff.
If Kiffin had really wanted Chow, as he assured the USC search committee before his hire, would he have said that he “anticipated” calling the plays on the UCLA radio station right in the middle of delicate negotiations between Trojan reps and Chow?
USC fans, don’t underestimate the power of Lane Kiffin. In less than 48 hours he’s already done the impossible: make Rick Neuheisel a sympathetic figure.