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Gaming Out The Decision Making Processes For Norm Chow & Rick Neuheisel

It should be clear by now there is a lot of misinformation out in the traditional media thanks to some superb leak job by Trojan operatives about Norm Chow and UCLA/Southern Cal. It should also be clear by now Shelly Smith of ESPN appears to have used her massive platform afforded by the tWWL to get the Trojan spin out about Chow going back to Southern Cal.  To me and number of others here it appeared to be a massive smokescreen to cloud UCLA's immediate recruiting prospects and also turn a number of knee jerk UCLA fans against the Bruins' current OC (shame on all those people).

This morning Norm Chow's representative pushed back against Smith's hecktacular "reporting" through some carefully worded bites:

[S]ources close to the school told ESPN's Shelley Smith on Tuesday night that a deal is being worked on in hopes of bringing longtime offensive coordinator Norm Chow back to USC in the same capacity.

On Wednesday, however, Chow's agent, Don Yee, steadfastly denied that USC has been in talks with Chow.

"Last night's reports are false. There are no negotiations that are occurring. And, as of this morning [Wednesday], we have not received any contact from USC regarding any offers for coach Chow to leave UCLA," Yee told ESPN, adding that no media contacted him about the initial circulation of Chow reports.

Chow had not been directly contacted by USC, either, Yee said. If the Trojans do pursue his client in the immediate future, Yee did not reject the possibility of a deal.

"As his representative, I'd have an obligation to present any proposal to coach Chow but I have nothing to present to him," Yee told ESPN.

This morning little more than hour ago (someone can look it up via DVR) Smith maintained that Chow is being approached by highly influential Trojan alums and essentially seemed to confirm she rushed out the Trojan story last night without checking in with UCLA or Norm Chow. Just despicable and pathetic reporting on her and that network should be ashamed of itself (but given how they handled Mike Leach debacle, it's clear they are not capable of being shamed).

Now where are we on Chow. From what we have heard, I think it is reasonable to infer  that even though "negotiations" haven't taken place between Chow and Southern Cal directly, there are probably talks going on. I think it is reasonable to infer given how much cash Southern Cal alums have thrown at a proven loser like Lame Kitten (in what appears to be LOL desperation move), they are ready to throw piles and piles of cash at Chow.  Money is not everything but it is something. So with that in mind I want to game out a bit and analyze what Norm Chow and Rick Neuheisel (and Dan Guerrero might be going through) in their decision making processes after the jump.

Here are the pertinent reported factors I can think of right now;

  • Chow is Ked to receive about $690,000 from UCLA in his third and last year of K through the end of 2010-11 season.
  • Southern Cal boosters can most likely offer him something in the range of 1-1.5 million per year to easily make him the highest paid OC for another 2-3 years
  • Chow has reportedly developed great relationships with Kevin Prince (who he fondly proclaimed might be a Heisman contender some day) and other UCLA QBs including Kevin Craft (who might stay on the program as grad. assistant)
  • Despite the recent talent upgrade from last 2 recruiting classes, Southern Cal still probably has lot more talent at OL and at skill positions than UCLA, at least if were to measure the roster in terms of 4, 5 star blue chip recruiting talents.
  • Norm Chow is most likely in the sunset stage of his illustrious career with at most another 3-4 years left.

So let's start with Chow.  He might be in a situation where he is getting the full red carpet treatment from Trojan boosters offering him piles of cash and also promises to reconcile whatever difficult pass he might have had with Lame in the past (see links on BN from last night). Add to that I imagine, it also might be interesting for Chow to work with someone like Monte Kiffin, who fwiw seems to have the reputation of being an elder statesman within the coaching fraternity. So there could be a scenario, in which Chow could be potentially tempted to go to Southern Cal and finish out his career on an extremely lucrative note , while coaching a team which has more readily available (often allegedly bought and paid for) talent on its roster.

If he is presented with that kind of situation he has to think about it and then talk about it with Neuheisel and DG. Then it becomes a question of whether or not Neuheisel and Guerrero want to engage in a bidding war with Southern Cal. Here are some of the factors I can think of from UCLA's end:

  • In an economy that is extremely tight with the backdrop of coaches being furloughed along with other state employees (and high profile programs like Cal taking buses instead of charter flights, it worked out really well for them though), can UCLA justify spending around 1 million per year to Norm Chow?
  • Spending 3-4 million for a 3-4 year on Chow's contract could potential dry up UCLA's pool of funds for assistants (cough*especially if it is on the market for a new DC*cough) in near future?
  • Is spending 3-4 million now for Chow worth it to absolute ensure that UCLA doesn't suffer any kind of recruiting casualties (on the offensive side) this season?
  • Should UCLA consider instead making sure if Chow's heart is towards leaving than to get as much as possible before severing the remaining year on the K, so that it has enough available for a quality OC?

Of course the most important issue for Rick Neuheisel and Dan Guerrero is to find out whether Chow's heart is into staying Westwood. I am not going to cast aspersions on who Chow is loyal to but bornagainbruin made a very astute observation that Chow's heart is probably with BYU and he probably look at other situations professionally. Perhaps the experience he has at UCLA through his relationships with players like Price is a factor.  I don't know how much it is.

I think more importantly for Neuheisel and Guerrero they have to think about both short term and long term ramifications for getting into a bidding war with Southern Cal. Is ensuring locking up our recruiting class worth that amount of money (if that's a deciding factor)? Or if Chow's heart is not at UCLA, should we make our own run at someone as high profile as Chow whose heart would be in Westwood with the same kind of financial commitment.

I personally am feeling very confident about Neuehisel's decision making process in all of this. I think he is going to think through all the factors presented above and others that many of us don't see from the public sphere. I think Chow has done a great job at UCLA and also been a wonderful recruiter. However, I also have even more confidence in Neuheisel's ability to recruit his rear end off and his track record as an offensive coach and QB guru.

So we will see how it all turns out. For now though, I think it is wise to turn down the anxiety level specific to this decision. In the end we are going to more than all right with or without Chow.