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Norm Chow story, long version

April 19, 2012 - Robert Collias
Space does not allow for all the stuff from my interview with University of Hawaii football coach Norm Chow to fit in tomorrow's paper, so here is the unabridged version a day early (we were the only Neighbor Island journalist to talk to Chow this week — he did talk in a three-hour telecast last night that generated just $55,000 for Na Koa Booster Club, a woeful number if you ask me. This is fresh stuff that nobody else has . . . or saw on TV last night):


Staff Writer

At 65 years old and with several stops on an impressive resume behind him, Norm Chow isn't about to wax poetic about returning to his birth state as head football coach at the University of Hawaii.

"Well, to be real honest, I really haven't had that much time to think about it," Chow said via phone after practice Wednesday. "I mean this was never — a lot of people say that this is quote-unquote a dream job. It was really, in the profession that we are in, you never set your sights to any particular job, if you will."

The puns that go with his name popped up immediately on T-shirts when he signed on at UH in December, but the Chow lines have been all fun so far.

Saturday, the Chow show and the Rainbow Warriors — a name he brought back at his introductory press conference after it was trimmed to Warriors by June Jones a decade ago — come to Maui for the 12th of 15 spring practice days. The practice will include a scrimmage and runs from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. with an autograph session to follow — the free event is all at War Memorial Stadium.

It is a little bit of a homecoming for Chow — his mother, the former Thelma Paresa, was born in Waihee.

"I have a lot of cousins who are still there," he said. "My mom is 95 and if you go to the elementary school there, there is a little yellow house across the street and that is where she was born. There are still a lot of Paresas around."

Chow has had enough talk about his first head-coaching job since he was head coach at Waialua High School from 1970 to 1972.

"You work hard every day and you do the best you can and wherever it is that the profession takes you," he said. "But, when there was the opportunity to come home, and to be a part of a program that is trying to make its mark, if you will, upping their level to the Mountain West (Conference), that kind of thing, it has been fun, but it has been a lot of work and you really don't have that much time to reflect back on how fortunate we are to have a job like this."

After a 6-7 record in 2011 against a schedule ranked as one of the easiest in the nation while competing in the Western Athletic Conference, Chow knows that the 2012 season will be a challenge. The slate opens with a game at USC on Sept. 1 and four weeks later is a game at BYU, both former jobs for Chow. The only home game in a six-week span from mid-October to late November is a Nov. 10 game against Boise State.

"I think it is going to be extremely tough and that is what I am trying to impress upon our players, is that this is a step up," Chow said. "That is certainly not a knock on the WAC, the teams that we are leaving, the league that we are leaving. I mean, I have coached in them all, but this is a step up. The schedule is extremely challenging."

Chow and staff are working hard to implement an offense that includes tight ends, a position that hasn't been seen in a UH uniform since Fred vonAppen was the coach. The defensive scheme is also new.

"We just finished practice 10 and it is like we finished practice 10," Chow said. "We have a long ways to go, the guys have bought in, they are working awfully hard. We have tried to change a little bit of, not a little, both the offensive and defensive schemes. So, it's all new for them, it's all new for us on the coaching staff, the first time we have all been together."

Chow has coached three Heisman Trophy winners and six first-round NFL draft choices and been on the staffs of three national champions and he knows practices are the place where such talent develops. As more and more college teams close practices to fans and media, even in the spring, he says that is not the plan at UH.

"I think the game belongs to the fans, the people that support it. Not saying that to be open is the way to go, but at USC Pete Carroll had every one of his spring practices open because you want to do it for the people that support you," he said. "In the fall, we will close our's up as best we can . . . because you don't want information out."

Chow said the Maui trip will be good for the team on several levels.

"We need a good practice, hopefully you will see one that is full of enthusiasm," he said. "We tell them that the tempo is important because it will make Saturday afternoons come fall a little bit easier because we have already been through game situations. You will a bunch of good young guys who are doing all that is being asked of them on the practice field and hopefully you will see a team that everyone can be proud of. . . . Because of the new staff and the new team, we are going to use this as kind of a trial run for when we have to hit the road to make sure we do the right things and the players understand it is a business trip, that kind of thing."

While Chow cannot comment specifically on recruits who have not signed with the team, two Baldwin High School underclassmen are on his radar. Sophomore linebacker Jordan Hoiem has confirmed that he has been offered a scholarship to play at UH and junior quarterback Keelan Ewaliko is also being recruited by the school.

"We have a couple recruits who have told us that they are going to come to our practice — we need to prove to these (Hawaii) kids that you can play big-time football and get a great education and you don't have to go very far to do that," Chow said. "All of it is very exciting. I want to make it as sort of a reward for our guys for the work ethic that they have had not only through spring practice, but through all of the winter workouts. We are looking forward to it, we really are. I think it is exciting for us and I hope they can continue this."


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