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January 21, 2008
Chow, fired last week by the Tennessee Titans, joins the staff of coach Rick Neuheisel, the former Bruins quarterback who took the job late last month.
"I've always admired his work," Neuheisel said. "You don't have to look far into the stats to see this guy can diagram and call plays. If anybody in college football has done better, I'm not aware of it.
"I think UCLA deserves the best."
The 61-year-old Chow said he enjoyed working at USC, where one of his sons graduated and another is still in school.
"It's a unique place and obviously Pete (Carroll) has done a great job. We'll still have that same respect - except for Saturday afternoon," Chow said Monday during a conference call.
Neuheisel, noting that he attended law school at USC, added, "Our goal is to get to where they are, among the elite in the country."
Before coming to USC and working with Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart, Chow groomed Heisman winner Ty Detmer at BYU. His coaching resume includes six quarterbacks who were first-round picks in the NFL: Palmer, Leinart, Philip Rivers, Jim McMahon, Steve Young and Marc Wilson.
UCLA quarterback Ben Olson was considered one of the top prospects in the nation when he came out of high school, but he has yet to live up to his billing with the Bruins.
"I remember Pete saying he was one of the best in the country," Chow said, recalling when he was on the Trojans' staff and Olson was in high school in Thousand Oaks, Calif. "I did get a chance one summer to see him at a camp and he looked awfully good.
"I'm looking forward to not only working with him, but the other quarterbacks as well. I remember (Patrick) Cowan from recruiting as well."
"Olson, who was 13 when he first met Chow at a football camp, said he was "thrilled to death" that he's coming to UCLA and added, "I'm going to find out where he is so I can go and deliver some flowers to him."
Both Chow and UCLA defensive coordinator DeWayne Walker, friends for more than two decades, were candidates for the Bruins' head coaching job that went to Neuheisel. Now they're on his staff.
Asked about the pair being considered for the head coaching post, Neuheisel said, "I think it speaks volumes about the two guys. DeWayne and I have forged a relationship of mutual respect, and he got involved with talking to Norm."
Neuheisel said he considers the trio a partnership, a startup company and "the sky's the limit."
Karl Dorrell was fired as the Bruins' coach Dec. 3 after they went 6-6. Walker served as interim coach in a 17-16 Las Vegas Bowl loss to BYU.
Chow was the Titans' offensive coordinator for three years and credited with helping Vince Young make the transition to the pro game. The Titans finished 10-6 and made the playoffs for the first time since 2003, losing 17-6 to San Diego in an AFC wild-card game.
But Tennessee ranked 21st in the league in total offense and became the first team with only nine touchdown passes to reach the playoffs in a 16-game season.
Chow, a native of Honolulu who played guard at Utah in the 1960s, served under Carroll at USC for four seasons, including two national championship years. Prior to that, he worked with Rivers at North Carolina State following 27 years on the BYU staff.
He said one big benefit of coming to UCLA is rejoining his family after his stint in Nashville.
"Instead of coming back to an empty hotel room, I'll come home to my family," he said.
Chow laughed and added, "I've been home for a week and I think I'm driving my wife crazy."
Terms of his contract with UCLA will not be announced until they are finalized.
For more coverage of UCLA, visit BruinBlitz.com.