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UCLA head coach Rick Neuheisel addressed the rumors of offensive coordinator Norm Chow’s interest in the same position with USC on Wednesday night, saying that he had spoken to Chow around 4:30 p.m. and that Chow “assured me he wants to be at UCLA.”

Neuheisel said that reports of Chow’s imminent departure to USC to become a part of new head coach Lane Kiffin’s first staff were premature, but he added that if the Trojans and athletic director Mike Garrett were to offer a “blockbuster” deal to Chow, he would not be angry if he took it.

“The profession is one where you certainly want a commitment,” Neuheisel said on a conference call with reporters. “You want people who want to be there. I think Coach Chow feels that about UCLA. I don’t think it, it’s exhibited. That being said, no one would ever be angry at somebody that if they got a blockbuster deal and felt like they couldn’t turn it down. All I know is what Norm Chow told me, that he is committed to UCLA.”

Chow’s hire caused a big splash on Jan. 21, 2006, seven days after Chow was relieved of his duties as offensive coordinator of the Tennessee Titans. In two years at UCLA, Chow’s offenses have finished ranked No. 111 and No. 88 in the country in total offense, as the Bruins went 4-8 in 2008 and 7-6 in 2009, with an EagleBank Bowl win over Temple on Dec. 29.

Reports late on Tuesday night that USC was interested in Chow, with several media outlets reporting that negotiations were in the works. As of Wednesday morning, however, Chow’s agent told ESPN that he had not yet been contacted.

When asked if Chow – who is in the last year of a three-year deal that will pay him a $250,000 base salary, a $140,000 talent fee and a $250,000 retention bonus on April 1 – would be considered for an extension, Neuheisel said, “Obviously there can be movement in that regard. That’s for the people who sign the checks and make those decisions. With respect for me, I want to know that my assistant coaches want to be here.”

Meanwhile, Neuheisel continues to prepare for an important recruiting weekend, as several top verbally committed and uncommitted prospects will visit UCLA.

Several current Bruins were unaware of the situation as late as Tuesday afternoon, but quarterback Kevin Prince, who has been championed by Chow as the future of the program, said on Tuesday night that he was confident that the program could move forward if Chow does leave, and that the situation has emboldened the players to an extent.

“With us, coach Chow is our guy and even if he did go, I feel that we do have a sense of stability with coach Neuheisel here,” said Prince, who is expected to return as starting quarterback for his sophomore season in 2010. “On the offensive side of the ball, the best guys would have to step forward and say just because he’s not here, we’re not going anywhere. It does empower you a little bit.”

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  • Anonymous

    The ball, it appears, is squarely in UCLA’s (AD Dan’s) court. Just show Chow he’s appreciated with some $ and years, and we can keep building this thing.

  • I agree. If it is at it appears and Chow sees himself at UCLA, it would be in our best interest to offer him, at the very least, a sense of job security with an extension and perhaps a raise of some kind.

    SC really wants him and you know they are going to throw a lot of cash his way.

    From what has been said, it seems like Chow *wants* to stay at UCLA, but like CRN said, if he were to be offered a “blockbuster” deal with SC, he wouldn’t blame him for leaving.

    Let’s just show Chow the love he deserves so we can continue to build a strong program. Kevin Prince: future Heisman under Chow.

  • Johnny Angel

    This “story” has been a fascinating example of using the press or media. There was no story. There is no story. Yet the “story” continues on.

  • Anonymous

    how much more clear can it be. chow would like to stay. SUC is offering a lot of money. UCLA will counter and Chow will make his decision. If the deal at SUC is too good, he leaves. I dont blame him. I love where i work, but if a competing organization doubles my salary i would definitely think about going.

  • Keith

    Norm seems to be a man of integrity, and I believe he would not tell Rick that he wants to be here if he didn’t mean it. I’m sure he sees it, however, as a two way street in that he wants to know that RN and the UCLA admin. want him here. If we are fair, then he will be fair and honor his commitments. What “fair” is is subjective, but a decent raise and longer term contract seem to be fair and appropriate in this case

  • Anonymous

    This is far from over. Unless there is a UCLA contract extension, the game is not over. He is “committed”… but UCLA has stuff to do first. He did not say, “I will be at UCLA next year”. So it begs the question, will Norm Chow get a contract extension to his liking. There was NO direct info on whether or not they are talking about contract extensions… was there?

    $c is playing coy… that they are looking at other OC’s. They really don’t want any other OC. Typical negociating tactics.

  • Bruin Zealot

    Because wannabe ‘Norm Chow’ she couldn’t get into UCLA.

  • WTF

    Chandler and Cameron Chow go or went to SC. They started there when Chow was still working there.

  • Reformed Droog

    Why spend the money on a guy who’s past his prime? Let him go if he wants to and bring someone in who can work with the talent we have.

  • WTF

    Can someone make sure Chow heard what Kiffin said at the press conference about how he will call the plays at SC? Still interested, Norm?

  • Gina

    Its not so much as Chow staying on at UCLA its keeping him away from USC thats the important fact here, we are finally becoming a respectable program again and will be able to compete with those spoiled children down south, so PLEASE Guerrero show him the $$ and keep him around!!

  • Warren

    I wish my company would pay me a “talent fee.”

  • Reformed Droog

    @ Anon 10:58

    (A) I’ve been critical of Chow since the latter half of the season, so I don’t know if you consider my earlier comments to be “nasty,” but if you do, at least know that they’ve been so for 2 months, not 24 hours.

    (B) If reading negative comments on this blog are going to sway him, what will the negative comments on the USC blog do? As if there aren’t Chow detractors over there, too…