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Provo • There were plenty of smiles around the BYU campus on Wednesday when Norm Chow was hired as Hawaii's new head football coach, and not just because rival Utah was losing its offensive coordinator.
"I think that's a sweet deal. I am happy for him," said BYU tight ends coach Lance Reynolds, who played for Chow in 1973 and 1976-77 and coached with him from 1983 until 1999, when Chow left for a stint at North Carolina State.
The Cougars host Hawaii on Sept. 29, 2012, in Provo, and will play the Warriors almost every year until 2020. Chow agreed to a five-year deal worth an estimated $550,000 annually to take over a team that lost 41-20 to BYU on Dec. 3 at Aloha Stadium.
"He is a natural fit," Reynolds said. "He is from there and knows all the high school coaches and the main cogs in the wheel over there. I think he will do a great job. And I think that it's a real natural fit. He will just be great for them. … He has always wanted to do it, and do it over there in front of his own people, his hometown, so to speak. It's a great hire."
On track to get back
Hard to believe, but it appears that receiver O'Neill Chambers, who was booted off the team more than a year ago, will last with the program longer than Jake Heaps. Chambers watched practice on Wednesday, and greeted dozens of players and coaches who had gathered for a team picture. Coach Bronco Mendenhall said Chambers is still working toward rejoining the team but that it hasn't been decided yet whether he will play safety or receiver if and when he returns.
"I keep really close tabs on O'Neill. He's doing well, he's maturing, and growing in a lot of different ways. Really, the whole decision of removing football [last year] was to help him to find who he is without it. I think he is making a lot of progress," Mendenhall said. "There's a chance he can rejoin us in January. Again, still as a walk-on and still earning his stripes. But he is on track to do that."
The Cougars will practice again on Thursday and Friday before taking the weekend off for Christmas. They will leave for Texas on Monday and practice there that evening. … Mendenhall can join Georgia's Mark Richt and Oklahoma's Bob Stoops as the only coaches in college football with five 10-win seasons in their first seven seasons.
Armed Forces Bowl BYU vs. Tulsa
P At Gerald J. Ford Stadium, DallasDec. 30, 10 a.m.
TV • ESPN