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Penn State Football Coaching Search: Hawaii Says Chow to Norwood; Dissecting Bo Pelini’s No

by on December 21, 2011 5:50 AM

Peripatetic offensive mastermind Norm Chow, a one-year wonder at Utah, is the new head coach at the University of Hawaii, AP and ESPN have reported.

Chow, a native Hawaiian, beat out 40 other candidates, including former Penn State assistant coach Brian Norwood.

On Sunday, Norwood -- the associate head coach at Baylor -- was in Hawaii to interview for the job, according to the Waco Tribune-Herald.

Hawaii will be the sixth school for Chow, who has coached Heisman Trophy winners Ty Detmer (BYU), Carson Palmer (USC) and Matt Leinart (USC).

Chow was the offensive coordinator for the NFL’s Tennessee Titans in 2005-07, working with former Penn State lineman and NFL Hall of Famer Mike Munchak, who coached the offensive line.

“I’m thrilled for him,” Munchak told The Tennessean. “We still, the guys that were here, talk about the days he was here – I learned a lot of football from him and know how much he wanted to be a head coach.”

Munchak, 51, is a first-year head coach for the 7-7 Titans and has been mentioned as a candidate for Penn State’s head coaching job.

So has Norwood.

In fact, according to a source familiar with the Penn State football program, during the first two weeks of December Norwood interviewed to succeed interim head coach Tom Bradley.

Bradley, 55, was the Nittany Lions’ defensive coordinator since Jerry Sandusky abruptly retired after the 1999 season. Bradley was named to the interim head coach position on Nov. 9. That is when Joe Paterno was fired three-quarters into his 46th season directing Penn State, fall-out from the child sex-abuse charges brought against Sandusky.

Bradley and fellow coaches Larry Johnson, Sr. and Jay Paterno have interviewed with Penn State’s six-person search committee, headed by acting athletic director Dave Joyner.

Norwood was on Penn State’s staff, as safeties coach, with all three assistants from 2001-07. In 2008, he went to Baylor to become the Bears’ defensive coordinator. He was promoted in 2011.

The Bears (9-3) have had a noteworthy season, as quarterback Robert Griffith III won the Heisman Trophy. They are ranked No. 12 in the latest BCS rankings and face Washington (7-5) in the Valero Alamo Bowl on Thursday, Dec. 29, in the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas.  Kickoff is at 9 p.m. Eastern.

Four days later on Jan. 2, Penn State (9-3) plays Houston (12-1) at noon Eastern in the TicketCity Bowl. It will be played in the Cotton Bowl in Dallas.

One would figure that Norwood will be attendance. According to MapQuest, the 98.7-mile trip from Waco, home of Baylor University, to the Cotton Bowl should take only an hour and 46 minutes.


On Monday and Tuesday, a few media outlets reported that Nebraska coach Bo Pelini and Joyner had met. Some, including, indicated that a meeting took place last week in Texas.

On Tuesday, Jeff Nelson, Penn State’s assistant athletic director of communications, Tweeted that there was not a meeting in Texas: “Dave Joyner was not in Texas last week as reported. Last visit was to Dallas on Dec. 8 for TicketCity Bowl event.”

Penn State did not dispute that Joyner and Pelini met (although Pelini did). We do know this about Pelini’s whereabouts last week:

Pelini was in Missouri City, Texas, a suburb of Houston, on the evening of Wed., Dec. 14. According to, Pelini and assistant Rich Fisher were meeting with standout safety Corey Thompson, who had long ago committed to Texas A&M.

But given that A&M had a new coach – Kevin Sumlin, who coached PSU’s TicketCity Bowl opponent, Houston, during the 2011 regular season  before jumping ship – Pelini reportedly wanted to talk with Thompson.

So while Pelini was in Texas and the vicinity, Penn State said Joyner was not. Which is good. Because even if Joyner had met Pelini for a casual cup of coffee to talk about Penn State, he would have broken with protocol by not first asking highly-regarded Nebraska athletic director Tom Osborne for permission to talk with Pelini.

Certainly, though, if the two of them had simply met and talked, it would have been possible for Pelini to characterize it as something other than an interview.

Here’s what Pelini had to say on the subject on Tuesday:

“The irresponsible reports that are going on out there are not true. I have not interviewed for Penn State and I'm not saying any more on that. There's all kinds of speculation all the time. I don't address all those rumors and irresponsible reports that are going on. If I addressed every coaching job and opening going on around the country I wouldn't do anything else.”

Pelini was asked if he wanted to affirm his commitment to Nebraska, where he has coached the past four seasons. His reply: “I'm not addressing every situation. I don't do it. I shouldn't have to do it.”

Well, now that that’s clear…


PLAYERS HUDDLE: At Penn State’s bowl media day held Monday at Holuba Hall, a number of players indicated that their viewpoint on the coaching search had not been solicited. Apparently they all didn’t get the word. A handful of Nittany Lion upperclassmen met with a member of the search committee recently, sources say. A participating player characterized the discussions as lengthy, positive and forthright.

TOM CLEMENTS: Green Bay Packers quarterback coach Tom Clements, 58, a McKees Rocks, Pa., native who guided Notre Dame to the 1973 national title, told several reporters he was interested in the position.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported on Tuesday that Clements “was interviewed Friday via a conference call with the search committee.” Penn State, via Nelson, put out the following Tweet: “Only one coaching candidate was interviewed -- in-person or on the phone -- on Friday, Dec. 16.” That person was Bradley. Of course, that doesn’t mean Clements didn’t talk with someone(s) from the committee, Friday or otherwise. It could have been characterized as something that wasn’t an interview.

RIGHT ON RICHT: On Tuesday we reported that Georgia coach Mark Richt has signed a contract extension. That, was kind enough to point out, may not be the case. The discussions have been ongoing for more than 10 days, and a contract extension – if agreed upon -- has not been announced by Georgia.


Mike Poorman has covered Penn State football since 1979, and for since the 2009 season. His column appears on Mondays and Fridays. Follow him on Twitter at His views and opinions do not necessarily reflect those of Penn State University.
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