Norm Chow's apparent departure from the University of Utah to become Hawaii's head coach certainly raises some questions about the future for the Utes and what motivated him to look beyond a position that seemingly would be the last stop of his career. Yet anyone's initial reaction should involve good feelings for Chow, who waited a long, long time for an opportunity like this.
Assuming the contract details get worked out with UH, Chow's going home to Honolulu which, of course, is pretty much what he said in February on arrival at Utah, having played for the Utes in the mid-1960s. So it's worth wondering why he would leave after one season, even for a true homecoming.
Chow, 65, undoubtedly is deserving of a head coaching job, and he's probably overqualified for Hawaii, even with the Warriors moving into the Mountain West Conference. Whether racial bias held him back as an Asian-American or he simply was perceived as one of those successful offensive coordinators who was not necessarily suited to become a head coach, he should not have had to wait this long.
In turn, this is a setback for Utah although how much so, we'll never know, because quarterback Jordan Wynn's injury kept Chow from truly showing what he could do with the Ute offense. Utah followers can only credit him for salvaging a 7-5, bowl-qualifying season by creatively finding ways for running back John White to succeed and for the offense to get by with fill-in quarterback Jon Hays.
But with three new head coaches in the Pac-12 South, Utah's advantage supposedly was going to be continuity in 2012, and that's lost now.
Think about this: Since offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig departed after the Sugar Bowl in January 2009, the Utes have had three play-callers Dave Schramm, Aaron Roderick and Chow over the past 38 games. Coach Kyle Whittingham claimed he demoted Schramm and Roderick only because Chow was available last winter. So will he promote one of them again, or go outside the program for another high-profile coordinator, having recognized what it takes to compete in the Pac-12?
Regardless, the Utes will miss what Chow could have brought them next season with a genuine Division I quarterback to complement White. With a well-constructed staff, he should thrive in Hawaii, having been given an opportunity that's way overdue.