He was a two-year starter for the University of Utah as an offensive lineman, earning an All-American honorable mention his senior year. Three years later, in 1973, after a short stint as a high school football coach in Hawaii, this former Ute was hired to work with BYU’s coaching staff as a graduate assistant.
Thus began Norm Chow’s 27-year career as an integral part of BYU football alongside legendary coach LaVell Edwards. Chow was the offensive coordinator when BYU won the national championship in 1984. During his tenure in Provo, the Cougars went 244-91.
This week Chow will return to Provo to coach football — only this time he’ll be wearing red as the Cougars host the Utes in the always-anticipated rivalry game. Chow was hired by his alma mater in January to be their offensive coordinator.
After coaching at BYU, Chow spent time coaching at Pac-10 powerhouses USC and UCLA and also a short stint at North Carolina State. His remarkable career also included a couple years in the NFL. From 2005-2007 he was the offensive coordinator for the Tennessee Titans and is credited for helping Vince Young earn Rookie of the Year honors.
BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall knows about Chow’s success here in Provo. But as the current defensive coordinator for the Cougars, he is also aware of the preparation involved when facing Chow’s offense.
“Certainly, he was part of all of the championships and dynasties, etc.,” Mendenhall said. “But what concerns me is that he is an excellent coach. Whether he coached here at BYU or not, that’s what my concern is.”
Chow is widely known for his work with many successful quarterbacks, including BYU greats Steve Young, Ty Detmer and Jim McMahon, as well as other nationally recognized names, such as Carson Palmer, Matt Leinart and Phillip Rivers.
Chow was successful in designing highly sophisticated passing offenses where he helped Detmer, Leinart and Palmer win Heisman trophies. Eleven of the top 30 single season passing yardage totals in NCAA history were led by Chow’s offense.
After four children, an assistant Coach of the Year Award and several hundred football games, Chow is still coaching. And he is glad to be back where college football began for him.
“I don’t know if it’s fully sunk in for me,” Chow said in an interview with ESPN. “I just keep thinking, ‘How many people really get to go full circle like this?'”