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WWL's Spotlight: Impressions From The Rose Bowl

WWL's Ivan Maisel was at the Rose Bowl last weekend checking out the first spring scrimmage under CRN at UCLA. Maisel specifically spent a lot of time with Norm Chow during the scrimmage. Chow was of course working without his top 2 QBs who went down less than 48 hours before the final scrimmage. Maisel's article on spotlighting UCLA's spring scrimmage is now up which includes his following impressions after hanging around the coach's booth with Chow both at the Rose Bowl:

All Chow brought upstairs was a mechanical pencil and a handful of play sheets. He grabbed a Diet Coke from the little refrigerator in the booth when he arrived. In the two chairs to the left of Chow sat coaching interns Jake Peetz and Pat Girardi. To his right sat David Raih, who charted the play calls. Peetz and Raih are former walk-ons at Nebraska and Iowa, respectively. Girardi is a former co-captain at Columbia.

The logistics of a new staff working in a new press box illustrate all the moving parts in a football team's engine. Coaches take for granted that the communication will go smoothly from press box to sideline. It's spring practice for the headsets, too. UCLA has new audio equipment. Chow couldn't hear the sideline. Then Girardi informed Chow that he and offensive line coach Bob Palcic were on different channels. Chow didn't take it well.

After the first series, Chow said, "Get me Bob."

"You have to switch," Girardi said.

"I have to switch? Oh, we are screwed up here," Chow said. "I don't like this at all. I thought I could talk to Bob when I wanted to talk to him."

Chow, 62, is of a generation that flinches at the technological. He was mystified not so much that he must punch in a key code to gain entry to the coaches' locker room on campus, but that when he asked for the code, he was told he would receive it in an e-mail.

"Why can't you just tell it to me?" Chow asked.

His bafflement is not a question of intelligence. The number of offensive coordinators who have a doctorate in education might fit in a phone booth, if phone booths were as prevalent as they used to be. For all of his supposed genius with a play script in hand, the doctorate reveals another key to his success.

"You see Norm Chow and you get starstruck by him," Peetz said, "It's hard to learn from a guy that you feel is that far above you. The first thing he does is he cuts himself all the way down to your level. I remember one of the first things he said was, 'Look, guys, I'm not that smart. We're going to make this simple, because I can't do all that West Coast stuff. I'm not smart enough.' He's very humble."
Needless to say you have to read the entire piece. It's a great read. The article ends with the following advice from Chow for his young quarterback  (Kevin Craft) who has been hurried into action this spring:
Chow assessed Craft's performance and laid out what he expected of him in the weeks to come.

"He came around at the end and made some nice decisions," Chow said. "... he needs to spend his time in the film room, he needs to get used to the rhythm of the game. The key for him is to get in the film room."

NCAA rules prevent coaches from working with players until practice resumes in August. When the Bruins reconvene, Olson should be healthy and Craft should be competing to be his backup. When Chow tells Craft he's "one play away," he'll know exactly what his coach means.
Speaking of Olson, we already have a report from his surgery today. Painter called it "successful" on the DN blog. So here is to Olson, Craft, Forcier and co. spending hours in the film room rest of this spring and summer and do what they have to do get themselves used to with the rhythm of Chow's offense. Meanwhile, we are going to enjoy watching Neuheisel, Chow, and Walker methodically put together their finished product (and improve upon it) in the coming years at the Rose Bowl.