Norm Chow is one of the legendary offensive minds in college football. He has been a very successful offensive coordinator at several schools from BYU to NC State to USC. He is now the head coach at the University of Hawaii. His first game was a 49-10 thrashing by his old employer USC and it won’t be the last blow out he’ll experience.
Hawaii has had some success in college football. In 2007 they went undefeated and made it to the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) and played in the Sugar Bowl against Georgia. They spent thirteen years in the Run & Shoot offense which was installed by former Head Coach June Jones back in 1999. Norm Chow has installed his own pro style offense.
For those not in the know, there are some big differences between the Run & Shoot and a pro style offense. The Run & Shoot uses four wide receivers (WR) and no tight-end. The pro style offense traditionally runs a TE and two running backs (RB).
The Run & Shoot worked at Hawaii for several reasons. The most prominent being, in my view, that you don’t necessarily need to out muscle the defensive line on the line of scrimmage. The offensive line mainly pass blocks and doesn’t need to blow the defensive line off the ball at the point of attack like you do with a run heavy offense.
You also don’t need to find great TE’s or several RB’s. You need to find several fast WR’s which are easier to find. Finding speed is usually easier than trying to find speed and size.
It’s not that you’re giving up on finding speed and size but if you’re at Hawaii you have to use the resources available to you. Just like the Academy schools Army, Navy and Air Force. They use the triple option attack. Why? It’s based on misdirection, execution and angles. Doesn’t that sound like any classic war plan and who better to carry that out then future military leaders.
Chow is trying to fit a round peg in a square hole. Finding a pro style QB to go to Hawaii is going to be a challenge in and of itself. Finding and offensive line that can plow the road for an NFL style RB, that may prove to be impossible.
Hawaii is not a powerhouse program and their facilities have apparently been lacking. The latter was one of the reasons why June Jones left for SMU after the ’07 season. These things and the sheer distance of Hawaii from the mainland makes finding talent and convincing them to come to the islands a massive challenge.
Chow may very well succeed. Expectations are lower at a school like Hawaii then they are at some of Chow’s previous jobs but winning is winning. Chow’s best chance for winning was with an offense that capitalized on the resources available and not on the dreams of what might be.