This evening's introductory press conference by the Kitten featured many interesting and perfectly coherent bits, but none may be more insightful regarding the current controversy engulfing both the Bruins Nation and those folks across town than his remark concerning his plans for USC's Offense (start at 5:53 in the video)
To be fair to Lane, he did leave some wiggle room in his statement, by stating that he "did not want to bookend (him)self for sure", but he did go out of his way to say that he had always called the offensive plays, and did not expect that to change. Given all of the attention, rumors and the full court press put on by USC toward getting Norm Chow to join the new staff as Offensive Coordinator, it is interesting that this was Kitten's first reaction to a question regarding playcalling.
Putting aside the playcalling merits of Chow versus Kiffin, why would USC, their fans and friends in the media invest so much effort into bringing Chow into the fold only to give him a figurehead role in the Kiffin regime?The logic behind the Kiffin hire, and that of Mike Garrett attempting to bring the band back together is as of yet unknown and unclear. One theory (which may or may not have merit) is that a reciptiveness to the possible return of Norm Chow to USC was a conditon of Garrett's offer of the Head Coaching position to Kitten, or that he claimed a willingness to work with Chow as a way to comfort Garrett and/or critical USC backers. The resulting staff of Chow, Papa Kiffen, and Orgeron would be quite the coup to USC in terms of media attention and respect, as well as in recruiting.
Tonight's remarks by Kitten become quite interesting in this context. One interpretation of those words is that this was an early show of independence by the new coach; Kitten is set as the coach, and he did not come back to Los Angeles to take a step back in his role in game planning and managment. In that context, he may not want Chow to come back at all. Such a conclusion does not come out of left field; his relationship with Chow during their shared stint at USC was strained, to put it nicely. Chow's vaunted status as an Offensive mastermind of the college game threatens to overshadow Kitten's own credentials and his own press. Indeed, for much of Wedensday, the various rumors circulating regarding Norm Chow's status garnered more attention that did the aftermath of Kitten's hiring itself.
The next 24-48 hours will be of great interest to both UCLA and USC fans in terms of what Norm Chow will do, For many USC fans, bringing Chow on board is the difference between the kitten being a very good hire or a very questionable one. For UCLA, this may become an opportunity to extend Chow's tenure with the football program further into the future, albiet with Chow holding a great deal of leverage.
$C can very likely outspend UCLA in a battle of the checkbooks to retain Chow's services. In the end, the queston of which section of LA Norm Chow will find himself in come the fall may come down to the twin questions of whether he can get along with Kitten, and whether Kitten will relinquish his playcalling duties, allowing Chow to have free reign over the USC offense.