Rainbow Warrior head coach Norm Chow concluded his second season in charge of the ‘Bows. His two-year tenure has produced little to no positives on and off the field. To avoid further long-term damage to the program, it is time for the Punahou alumnus to step down.
Chow has produced only four wins in two years. His record during the 2012 season (3-9) can be partially excused due to the new system and the time it takes for a new regime to establish its philosophy in college football. One season is not a proper sample size to judge a new coach with. If the second season showed evidence of improvement, his first season’s results would not be a valid reflection of Chow’s coaching ability. But this season, the ‘Bows managed only one win in their last contest of the year against Army. While injuries and a strong schedule play a part in the 11 losses this year, the heart of the blame still falls on the man in charge.
Fans at Aloha Stadium can often be heard correctly predicting the next play the ‘Bows offense is about to run. Chow’s predictability when calling offensive plays has given opponents a significant advantage. The most evident example of questionable play-calling came against Wyoming. The game was in overtime after the 4th quarter ended in a 56-56 tie. Chow chose to run the ball six straight times in overtime and go for it on 4th and 1. This meant Wyoming only needed to kick a short field goal to win, which it did. The decision by the coach to shoot for it on 4th down and go for the win is not the problem. It’s the fact that he called a run play six times in a row while his quarterback had thrown for career-highs in yards (499) and touchdowns (6) and Chris Gant torched the Wyoming defensive backs for 174 yards and four touchdowns.
Coaches are typically evaluated at the end of the season. Their financial impact on the university must outweigh the burden of their salary. Coach Chow has earned $550,000 per season for the past two years. This means he has been paid $1,100,000 for four wins, including a victory against FCS opponent Lamar. With Chow being the highest paid state official in Hawai‘i, his salary is excessive and unwarranted for the product UH Mānoa fans are receiving.
TICKET SALES AND RECRUITMENT
Releasing Chow and paying off his contract will cost the university in the short term, but if the results remain the same, then the university will lose much more in the long term. Ticket sales and attendance at Aloha Stadium have decreased during the past three years. Fans will not go to the stadium to see the same product with little improvement as the losses pile up. Furthermore, Chow’s record will hurt the recruitment process for years to come. Current high-school players will not want to come to Hawai‘i when they see the Rainbow Warriors struggle weekly. Since 2010, Hawai‘i’s recruiting ranking has gone down from 65th overall to 93rd overall in 2013 according to Yahoo.
Chow’s career has been impressive, and he deserves a head coaching job. His local ties to Hawai‘i add to the appeal of his position. However, the production of his team in the past two seasons has not measured up to his contract. College football is a business, and when a program negatively impacts the financial state of the athletics department, then something must be done. The university can’t afford another season of regression off the field. Thus, it is time for head coach Norm Chow to say, “Ciao.”