The Tennessee Titans named Norm Chow their offensive coordinator today.
Chow decided to leave the University of Southern California to accept a contract with the Titans worth about $900,000 per season, said a source familiar with the situation, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the terms of the deal were not announced.
The Titans scheduled a news conference to formally introduce Chow. Coach Jeff Fisher, a USC alum, said in a written statement released by the club: "This is an important addition to our team. He is one of the most respected minds in the college game and has been for decades. In studying him and his offense, I am certain that his philosophy is consistent with ours and his experience will allow us the opportunity to improve."
Chow told the Los Angeles Times that his family was saddened to leave USC but he was "fired up" because the new job presents "an exciting opportunity to get into the highest level of football."
He replaces Mike Heimerdinger, who left the Titans for a $1 million-a-year offer to become the New York Jets' offensive coordinator. Chow, 58, makes the jump to the NFL after 32 seasons as a college assistant coach, including four years at USC after 27 years at Brigham Young and one season at North Carolina State.
He tutored quarterbacks Steve Young, Jim McMahon, Ty Detmer, Robbie Bosco, Philip Rivers, Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart, and he helped the Trojans to the last two national championships. Fisher met with Chow about the Titans' job on Friday in Nashville . . .
Chow's departure from USC probably means a promotion for Trojans wide receivers coach Lane Kiffin, the son of Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin. USC Coach Pete Carroll apparently plans to elevate Kiffin to co-offensive coordinator . . .
Chow is the second member of the USC coaching staff to be hired as an NFL offensive coordinator in recent weeks. The Jacksonville Jaguars hired the school's quarterbacks coach, Carl Smith, as their offensive coordinator . . .
One person close to Leinart said Tuesday night that the Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback almost certainly would have entered the NFL draft in April if he'd known that Chow would be leaving the school. Leinart wavered on his decision in the days leading up to last month's deadline for college underclassmen to enter the draft, then announced that he was returning to USC for his senior season. He might have been the top overall choice if he'd opted to enter the draft.
Bidding War for Mangini?
Defensive backs coach Eric Mangini is viewed as the likely successor to departed defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel with the New England Patriots. The rest of the league might not make things quite that easy for Patriots Coach Bill Belichick, however.
Mangini's contract is expiring, and it's possible that the Cleveland Browns or Miami Dolphins could try to outbid the Patriots to hire Mangini as defensive coordinator. Crennel just became the Browns' head coach. The Dolphins are coached by another former Belichick assistant, Nick Saban.
Crennel was asked about Mangini during his introductory news conference with the Browns on Tuesday and said: "I like Eric. He might be one of the guys we talk to."
It would be an upset, though, if Mangini ends up anywhere other than New England. The Patriots are not known for paying their assistant coaches exorbitant salaries. But Mangini is said by people around the league to be loyal to Belichick, who gave him his first coaching job . . .
The five-year contract that Crennel signed with the Browns is worth about $11 million. He worked in the shadow of Belichick while helping the Patriots to three Super Bowl titles in the past four seasons, and Crennel said when he took the microphone Tuesday at the Browns' headquarters in Berea, Ohio: "I get the spotlight, huh?"
He added later: "I wouldn't mind being considered a genius. I might not be there yet, but I can work toward that. I am who I am. I am Romeo Crennel. Bill Belichick is Bill Belichick. We're different, even though we worked together and agreed on a lot of things."
Crennel said he will take a straightforward approach with his players.
"I'm going to tell them the way it is," he said. "If you're playing bad, you're playing bad. That's the way it is in this business. It's a production business . . . I'm not Knute Rockne. But I can motivate. Guys play for me. They always have . . . We're going to play hard. You know that. And we're going to be fundamentally sound."
Crennel sounded like he will be adaptable, saying that he might not implement the three-linemen, four-linebacker defensive scheme that he prefers immediately because the Browns might be better suited to utilizing a 4-3 setup initially. Like any new head coach, he will have to figure out how much authority to retain and how much to delegate to his assistants.
"You have to be hands-on," Crennel said. "You have to have knowledge of what's going on. Whether I'm actually calling the defensive plays or sitting in the defensive meeting room, that remains to be seen. It probably depends on who the coordinator is . . . I know I can coach football. That's a given in my mind. Now the question is dealing with all the other things you have to deal with" as a head coach.
Phil Savage, the Browns' first-year general manager, confirmed the widespread notion that Crennel ensured his hiring with his impressive interview with team owner Randy Lerner, club president John Collins and Savage in early January.
"When the three of us walked out of that room," Savage said, "we knew we were dealing with a special man and coach."
Crennel must assemble his coaching staff, and he has plenty of catch-up work to do in going over the roster. One of the first major decisions that Crennel and Savage must make together is whether to retain quarterback Jeff Garcia, the former Pro Bowler who struggled mightily under the previous coaching staff in his first season with the Browns after being signed last offseason following his release by the San Francisco 49ers . . .
Belichick is scheduled to compete in the Pebble Beach Pro-Am golf tournament beginning Thursday . . .
Patriots tailback Corey Dillon pulled out of Sunday's Pro Bowl because of a groin injury suffered late in New England's Super Bowl triumph over the Philadelphia Eagles. Dillon was replaced on the AFC roster by the Pittsburgh Steelers' Jerome Bettis.
The Patriots' five other Pro Bowlers -- quarterback Tom Brady, defensive lineman Richard Seymour, linebacker Tedy Bruschi, kicker Adam Vinatieri and special-teams ace Larry Izzo -- are planning to play this weekend in Hawaii. Vinatieri traveled directly there from Jacksonville, Fla. The other four flew to Hawaii on the private jet of Patriots owner Robert Kraft after participating in the team's victory celebration Tuesday in Boston. Vinatieri skipped the parade so that his pregnant wife wouldn't have to travel more than was necessary . . .
Eagles wide receiver Terrell Owens, after returning early from his severe ankle sprain to play in Sunday's Super Bowl, is withdrawing from the Pro Bowl and is being replaced on the NFC squad by the St. Louis Rams' Torry Holt . . .
Philadelphia center Hank Fraley said in a television interview with Comcast that Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb was so sick in the second half of the Super Bowl that wide receiver Freddie Mitchell had to make one play call in the huddle. Mitchell confirmed the story to another Philadelphia TV station. McNabb did not appear particularly ill after the game, though, and traveled Tuesday to Hawaii to play in the Pro Bowl.
Pennington Has Surgery
New York Jets quarterback Chad Pennington underwent shoulder surgery Tuesday to have his torn rotator cuff repaired. The procedure was performed by Birmingham orthopedist James Andrews, and Jets officials said they remained hopeful that Pennington would be ready for the opening of training camp in July . . .
The Jets promoted Pep Hamilton from offensive assistant to wide receivers coach and confirmed the previous hiring of Jeremy Bates as quarterbacks coach . . . The Green Bay Packers hired Robert Nunn and Bob Sanders as defensive assistants but didn't specify their duties yet . . . Chicago Bears defensive line coach Karl Dunbar accepted a job on the LSU coaching staff.