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Sports & Fitness // Hot Air
Steve Murray

‘Sporting News’ Not Sold On Chow

Norm Chow

Norm Chow: No. 98 with a bullet. Jay Metzger photo

Had Sporting News come out with its ranking of college coaches a bit earlier, the University of Hawaii could have saved itself the trouble of hiring the 98th best coach in the country.

Or perhaps the information was shared with UH and that explains the 50 percent pay cut from the previous regime. Either way, it now appears that the state’s only FBS football program is being led by someone less accomplished than an historically ambiguous law-abiding cowboy (Marshall’s Doc Holliday), a Batman antagonist (Kentucky’s Joker Phillips), anyone stuck at San Jose State, and a coach who hasn’t coached in 11 years (Bob Davie, New Mexico).

Warrior fans should at least be happy knowing Fresno State has done even worse. Head coach Tim DeRuyter is listed at No. 105 and is pulling in $100,000 more than Chow. Then again, anyone forced to live in Fresno deserves to be compensated.

OK, that was nothing more than a weak attempt at pandering to a local audience while taking a cheap shot at the fine central California community, which, as Wikitravel points out, there are many ways to enter but almost no way to leave. See, I did it again. Sorry, Fresnoites. But look on the bright side, you could be stuck in Columbus.

Back to the subject at hand.

Although the article does-n’t explain its ranking procedure, it does bring up a good point. Chow, for his accomplishments as an assistant, and there have been a ton, is still an unknown as a head coach. The truth is that until you get it done, no one will trust what you can do.

I’m a firm believer that there may be five or six really exceptional coaches in any sport, 50 or 60 that are interchangeable, and the rest are unproven or retreads tied to schools lacking the resources to buy a good program. Now, before you start faxing documents to the NCAA or filling up my inbox with hate mail or photographs of Brutus Buckeye doing anything other than getting pummeled by Rufus, let me explain. By “buy” I’m referring to the tremendous expense of building a successful athletic program and not to any illegal recruiting practices nor the pampering of players with cars and free lap dances.

So where does this ranking leave Punahou’s fifth or sixth most famous alum? Underrated.

Chow is better than Ellis Johnson (0-0 in the FBS and 17-28 at The Citadel and Garner-Webb) and perhaps a dozen others on the list. He’ll start off his head coaching career with a loss to a coach who has gotten more (cash) for fewer (victories) than any in history, USC’s Lane Kiffen (No. 20 on SN’s big board), and is three years removed from having the talent to successfully run the system he wants. Perhaps by then Chow may close the gap with one of his predecessors, SMU’s June Jones (No. 22).

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