Mike Johnson Hired As UCLA Offensive Coordinator; Norm Chow Hired At Utah

Johnson coached with Rick Neuheisel with the Baltimore Ravens in 2006 and 2007.

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Norm Chow, Out At UCLA, Hired As Offensive Coordinator At Utah

The Norm Chow era at UCLA officially ended today, as the offensive coordinator left to become offensive coordinator with the Utah Utes. Earlier today, the Bruins hired Mike Johnson as offensive coordinator, replacing Chow, who had two years and $1 million remaining on his contract. The only question now is how much was the buyout Chow negotiated with UCLA.

For Chow, he returns to the state where he has spent most of his football life. Chow, who coached at BYU from 1973-1999, returns to Utah, where he played in the late 1960s. To make matters even better, with Utah joining the Pac-10 next season, Chow gets to face UCLA immediately. The Utes host the Bruins on November 12. Per the press release from Utah:

"Adding Norm Chow to our offensive staff was an opportunity that we couldn't pass up," said Whittingham. "Norm is widely considered one of the top offensive coordinators in the country and his experience at both USC and UCLA will aid us in our transition into the Pac-12 Conference. I have a longstanding relationship with Norm and have a tremendous amount of respect for him and what he has accomplished over the course of his career."

For more information on UCLA football, be sure to read Bruins Nation.

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UCLA Officially Hires Mike Johnson As Offensive Coordinator; Norm Chow Reportedly Headed To Utah

Trying to overhaul an offense that was near the bottom of the country in several categories, UCLA officially made a change today at offensive coordinator, hiring Mike Johnson, who was most recently offensive coordinator of the San Francisco 49ers. The hiring of Johnson all but assures the end of Norm Chow's tenure at UCLA, who is reportedly headed for the same position with the Utah Utes. UCLA made the Johnson hiring official today.

Head coach Rick Neuheisel will have a more direct role in the offense, more than he did with Chow as his offensive coordinator:

"During my assessment of our program, I felt it was necessary for me to be more involved in the day-to-day operation of the offense," Neuheisel said. "I decided that going forward, I will coach the quarterbacks and will be more hands-on in the area of play calling with a new coordinator."

Of course, with new responsibility comes a target for Neuheisel. The Bruins ranked 99th out of 120 FBS teams in total offense in 2010, and were 115th in passing yardage. For Neuheisel, who is 15-22 in three seasons with UCLA, he won't have assistants to blame if the Bruins falter again.

Meanwhile, Chow is close to being named offensive coordinator at Utah, reported Chris Foster of the Los Angeles Times. Foster reported that Chow and UCLA were negotiating the buyout of his contract, and that an announcement could be made as soon as today. Utah, which joins the Pac-10 conference next season, hosts the Bruins on November 12.

For more information on UCLA football, be sure to read Bruins Nation.

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Norm Chow Out At UCLA? Mike Johnson In? What's Next For The Bruins' O?

It's safe to assume at this point that Norm Chow is, by some as-yet unknown mechanism, done as offensive coordinator at UCLA. There's been little public movement, but our own Bruins Nation has been abuzz with the news of Rick Neuheisel's reported talks with 49ers OC Mike Johnson. (If you'd like a handy catch-up on Johnson's coaching history and schematic preferences, BN has a nice one available here.)

The blue-and-gold elephant in the room remains Chow, and what's to become of him. According to the Times, the question is one of money, and the waiting game is to see which side will jump first, with quite a bit of money at stake:

If Chow quits, he will not receive any money from his two-year contract extension. If he is fired, he will receive the full amount. If Chow is hired elsewhere, the amount of his new contract will be deducted from what UCLA owes him. The deal is believed to be worth about $1 million.
[...]
Chow could also be demoted and assigned to other duties for the duration of his contract.

And wouldn't THAT last bit make for a fun and productive offseason!

For all parties involved, it does seem better for Chow to move on. He never seemed comfortable helming the pistol offense, and the latest scuttlebutt seems to be centering around him joining Kyle Whittingham's staff at Utah. If SB Nation's Block U community's reaction is any indication, he'll be warmly welcomed by the Utes:

On experience and resume alone, Chow brings more clout to the program than any past hire in Utah athletic history. He's won three national titles (two at SC and one at BYU), coached countless successful quarterbacks from Steve Young to Matt Leinart and produced some of the nation's most potent offenses throughout his long and storied offensive career.

He also returns to the program he played at from 1965 to 1967, as well as the state where his coaching career reached its most prolific (when he was the offensive coordinator under LaVell Edwards at BYU from 1973-1999).

It's an ignominious end for a highly-regarded football mind, but if the Utah job does work out, Chow will be able to exact his revenge soon enough: Remember that the Utes are bound for the Pac-12 next season.

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