Norm’s No Joke

(Photo credits: Harry How/Getty Images North America)

(Photo credits: Harry How/Getty Images North America)

In my inagural blog post, I talked at length about why I think Sarkisian is not living up to his potential. A tad on the negative side (an understatement). During that tirade, I brought up Sark’s connection and fallout with Norm Chow. Why is this a big deal? Because Chow is a little too well-connected to alienate like that.

Maybe he actually eats children in life and just comes off as laid-back and a decent dude to the media. Oh well. What we can look at is his football career, so I’ll get back to doing what I used to do. It’s time for a history lesson.

Norm Chow’s body of work up until 2008 was nothing short of insane. His resume includes coaching two-time Super Bowl winner Jim McMahon (BYU), perennial Pro-Bowler and Hall of Famer Steve Young (BYU), current San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers (NC State) as well as Heisman winners Ty Detmer (BYU), Carson Palmer (USC), and Matt Leinart (USC). This was followed by half a decade of unfortunate circumstances and inconsistency at the quarterback position.

His football career started at the University of Utah, where he played offensive guard. It was perhaps his first taste of quarterback instability. He would later return to the Utes an offensive coordinator much later in his career.

After a brief stint in the Canadian Football League, he found his way to coaching at a high school in Hawaii. The first career breakthrough he experienced was also his longest stop to date: Brigham Young University. By the end, his title looked like something out of a book of tongue twisters. Assistant head coach/offensive coordinator/quaterback/receivers coach after literally decades of work. However, the 27 years leading up to his departure did not start so prestigiously for him.

In 1973, he began as a lowly graduate coaching assistant, eventually working his way up. Under head coach LaVell Edwards, Chow and the BYU Cougars strung together some of BYU’s most legendary seasons, including an NCAA record 14-win season set in 1996 (which has since been tied). The quarterback during that season is one you’re probably familiar with—Steve Sarkisian. Chow and Sark would later reunite at USC.

At the turn of the millenium, Chow made a big move that led to a very brief stint at North Carolina State. After spending almost three decades at BYU, he worked for one at NC State—quite the contrast. Notably, he molded freshman Philip Rivers, capping off the season with ACC Rookie of the Year. Chow’s stay was cut short when a paticular former NFL coach came calling. This coach had just been hired at USC and wanted Chow to be their new offensive coordinator.

Pete Carroll brought Norm Chow onboard to improve the passing game. It was here that Chow was able to mentor consistent quarterbacks in Palmer and Leinart. Carroll also employed two relative unknowns: Lane Kiffin and Steve Sarkisian. Kiffin and Sark tinkered with the offense that Chow brought from BYU, creating something even greater. The combination of the three offensive minds Chow, Sarkisian, and Kiffin took USC to untold heights. In the 2004 season, their USC team destroyed Chow’s former employer in LaVell Edwards Stadium. That 2004 run culminated in the greatest beatdown in a BCS National Championship game. That 55-19 win still stands as the largest margin of victory and most points scored by a single team in a BCS title game. After all the glory and fame, the trio would not last much longer.

A few weeks later, former USC defensive back Jeff Fisher took Norm Chow to the Tennessee Titans for the same position. As luck with have it, Norm Chow got Texas quarterback, Vince Young, as a top 10 draft pick instead of Matt Leinart. Both these quarterbacks from a supposed “Game of the Century” eventually washed out of the NFL. Chow was fired in 2008, just one season after helping Vince Young win NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year.

Luckily, Chow was a hot commodity at that point. His next landing spot was with USC’s crosstown rival, but he would find no solace there. Quarterbacks Richard Brehaut and Kevin Prince were constantly injured or playing inconsistently. Their attempt at installing the pistol offense probably did not help their instability either. His Bruin teams were 0-3 vs. USC, nearly completing a triumvirate of 28-7 losses—they were saved by USC’s infamous 2-minute defense in the 2010, allowing UCLA to score a touchdown in garbage time. Like his time with the Titans, he was fired after just three seasons.

Not too much time passed before he received an offer to work under Kyle Whittingham at Utah.

Back at his alma mater, Chow was poised to do well. Utah was making their Pac-12 debut. Their starting quarterback, junior Jordan Wynn, had helped lead Utah to consecutive 10-win seasons.

On September 10, 2011, Chow and Kiffin faced off against each other in the first ever Pac-12 conference game. The match was a struggle right down to the very end. USC quaterback, Matt Barkley, threw for 264 yards, 1 touchdown and 1 interception while Wynn managed 238 yards, 1 touchdown, 0 interceptions. The score was 17-14, in USC’s favor, with 11 seconds until the end. Utah opted for the field goal, taking the call out of Chow’s hands. The kick ended up being blocked and returned, making the final score 23-14.

USC blocks Utah’s field goal and returned it for a touchdown as time expired

Two weeks later, Wynn took a season-ending injury to his shoulder against Washington. Utah tripped their way to a 8-5 season, their worst since Whittingham’s first season in 2005. Chow departed to be the head coach of Hawaii shortly after, spending only that lone season at Utah.

In what seemed to be an inescapable loop, Chow would face his former coworker Kiffin twice more. The following season opened with rank #1 USC tearing apart an outmatched Hawaii from the very first play. The contest ended 49-10, without really being a contest. They played a few quarterbacks throughout the season. Chow and his Warriors scraped up a 3-9 record, with a point differential of -31 in their losses.

The results of the 2013 were even worse. Hawaii fought it out against #24 USC for their first game. The only thing he managed to beat was the betting spread. Kiffin used the game as a sounding board for his quarterbacks and still managed to cruise to a 30-13 victory. The Warriors would only win one game the entire year. For the second straight season, his team finished last in the Mountain West Conference. The patience at Hawaii may be wearing thin.

CommBro Breaker

Although Hawaii would be safe from USC on the field in the 2014 season, their storylines found a way to cross yet again. Max Wittek transferred in despite splitting quarterback duties to beat down the team a season ago. He spent the year on the bench because of the NCAA transfer rules.

During the offseason, the team respected Wittek enough to elect him as one of the captains. Now Chow and Wittek both have a chance to redeem their reputations. The expectations the two had failed to live up to can be realized in 2015. Wittek can be the consistent quarterback Chow has not had since his days at USC.

Hawaii has never really won on the strength of their defense. If they’re going to win, they’re gonna do it in a shootout. If Wittek can score against Mountain West defenses, they can win.

I, for one, hope these two Trojans succeed at their new stop. As they say: Trojan for life.

Pete Carroll Back for a Weekend

Pete Carroll made it a weekend trip to Los Angeles last week. The Seattle Seahawks head coach and former USC head coach returned to campus for a victory lap.

His first stop, strangely enough, had nothing to do with athletics. Bright and early on a Friday morning, he walked across the commencement stage and received an honorary doctorate from USC. That’s right, Coach Carroll is now Dr. Carroll. The guy that has won 7 Pac-10 championships, 2 college national championships, 2 NFC championships, and one Super Bowl title (narrowly missing 1 more college national championship and 1 more Super Bowl title) now has a higher degree than you do (or at least tied).

The following day he made an appearance for his induction to the USC Hall of Fame. Both Carroll and former USC linebacker, Jack Del Rio, were part of the 2015 class. During Carroll’s Q&A session with the media, he had some great things to say regarding USC, the sanctions, and his time in the NFL.

Pete Carroll at the Hall of Fame Induction

Pete Carroll at the Hall of Fame Induction

On Todd McNair: “The fact that Todd continues to fights the fight that he has to regain his reputation and opportunities, I think is really stellar. He’s taken a stand and he’s stuck to it and there’s a lot of information that comes to light because of that, so I’m proud of him.”

On how USC is handling the situation: “As far as what happens after, the university knows what they’re doing. They’re on it and they’ll do a great job of dealing with the issues when the judgment comes down.” and “What I do hope is that the university eventually gets what they rightfully deserve.”

On his time with the Seahawks how it relates to USC: “I’m proud to say that we’ve gone to the NFL and won in similar fashion to show that we knew what we were doing”

His entire presser can be found here.

CommBro Breaker

While he clearly remains popular with many Trojans, there are those outside the halls of USC that feel quite differently. There was still a noticable amount of backlash on social media sites (full of morons, I know). Despite all the news regarding the Todd McNair case and the injustice wrought by the NCAA, public perception still seems to be against USC. They believe that the acknowledment of what Pete Carroll has done for the university is an example of everything wrong with USC’s culture—how cheating is rewarded. It has almost been ten years, and people are still ignorant of the situation.

When will USC take charge of repairing their tarnished reputation? As a Comm professor (Durbin) once told me, bad news has to be taken care of immediately. With all the resources USC has and the importance of USC Football, it feels like they could’ve done more. USC Football does a lot in terms of funding other sports and bringing in other intangible benefits (not to be mistaken with impermissible benefits).

Granted, there’s no way to defeat ignorance on every corner of the world, but USC should do all that it can. For everything else, there’s the wise, wise words of Taylor Swift…

Come on, say it with me

Come on, say (or sing) it with me

Ex Machina: A Review

Ex Machina

Runtime: 1 hour 48 minutes
Budget: Estimated to be $13 million

I don’t normally watch indie films unless I hear good things. I appreciate that they take risks, but it so often feels so contrived. Trying to be different just to be different—that sort of thing. Just like me when I was in elementary school. That means I was a hipster even before hipst—dammit, nevermind. On to the review.

It’s a story about how Ronald Weasley meets RoboCop and the two go on wild adventures, fighting crime with magic.

Close enough

Close enough

But seriously, the movie starts out quite slowly, but gripped my attention the rest of the way. The screenplay was very well-written. They found ways to include witty humor even admist the serious tone. Enough clues are given to foreshadow the things to come. It also really gives you something to think about.

I think it’s safe to say they really maximized their small budget.

CommBro Breaker

I’m going to skip the obvious, and somewhat inappropriate pun. Watch it and I’m sure you can figure out what I mean. Also, typical indie type of ending.

Mad Max: A Review

Mad Max: Fury Road

Runtime: 2 hours, 00 minutes
Budget: Estimated to be $150 million

Mad Max: Fury Road is the fourth movie in the Mad Max franchise. I almost feel unfit to be reviewing this film since I have not watched a single one of the others—keyword almost. If this movie cannot stand alone against one of the most ridiculous critics, then it probably has no hope. That being said, it was surprisingly good.

This is one of those rare cases where they have a completely uninteresting trailer yet the movie turns out well. The whole thing was very…unique.

Unique—like this mad sax guy. Okay fine, it's a guitar. Goshdammit, I feel like there was a missed opportunity here (GIF credit: Warner Bros.,

Unique—like this mad sax guy. Okay fine, it’s a guitar. Goshdammit, I feel like there was a missed opportunity here (GIF credit: Warner Bros.,

I can’t say too much without spoilers. They do a good job of setting up the world and culture without some character outright explaining it all. Not sure I would watch it more than once though.

CommBro Breaker

The entire movie is just one damn long road trip. If you’re not into action, you won’t find much here.

Oh hey, Raiders fans tailgating...wait, crap (Photo credit:

Oh hey, Raiders fans tailgating…wait, crap (Photo credit:

Bryce Paid the Price

(Photo credit; Winslow Townson/Getty Images North America)

(Photo credit; Winslow Townson/Getty Images North America)

The university announced publicly on Thursday that Bryce Dixon has been removed from the USC Football team. I don’t really talk about rumors, so I won’t say anything, I’ll just show you.

Interpret how you want, but I think the implications of his tweets give enough to get a picture of what’s happening. This is the sort of thing that is just bad for every party involved.

A New Jersey?

Ah, the iconic USC jerseys. Barely changed through decades—a century even.

away jerseyBut barely means it still gets changed. You may have noticed the colors getting more and more pale. On TV, the jerseys look straight up like someone set the wash cycle a bit too long.

Sure a few shades of color may be hard to get right with different materials. If they want to stick with Nike’s cutting edge designs and materials, slight variation are expected. Where crap crosses the line is the back of the jersey. Starting from the 2013 season, they looked like this:

2013 (Original photo taken by John McGillen)

2013 (Original photo taken by John McGillen)

These jerseys didn’t get any better the following season. They added the chrome domes and still had terrible jersey backs.

2014 (Original photo taken by John McGillen)

2014 (Original photo taken by John McGillen)

You can even completely read the USC on the branded back plate. Considering how USC is literally the last FBS program that does not include names on jerseys, I could see how this is pretty low on the priority list for the folks at Nike, though. It’s mostly unnoticable for other schools, but the USC ones hurt to look at for extended periods of time.

Nonetheless, I am reservedly anticipating an improvement for the 2015 season. Why? While you were all busy trying to see what Town and Browne could do, I was staring at their jerseys. Something definitely looked different. Take a look for yourself:

Stark Contrast...Sark Contrast? Sorry, couldn't resist. (Original photos taken by John McGillen)

Stark Contrast…Sark Contrast? Sorry, couldn’t resist. (Original photos taken by John McGillen)

After seeing the difference, there is only one thing you can say:



Hopefully, Todd Hewitt and his equipment managers have a couple hundred of these in their stockroom for the upcoming season.

CommBro Breaker

None of this will undo this monstrosity:

USC Logo

New/North Antics

I opened with a tweet for effect. I wanted it to sink in first. There was a burning mattress in New/North at UPC. Is anyone surprised?

I realize this is purely anecdotal, but during my sophomore year, some people managed to toss a mattress out of New/North. Years later, they one-up it by setting one on fire. Save that crap for West Virginia.

CommBro Breaker

But it seems, according to my ole’ comm-friendly school, there was no one in the room when the fire started. At least this time it didn’t seem intentional.

Motive or not, countless weird and wild things have happened in that place. Feel free to leave your New/North stories in the comments. The legend continues…

(Wild, wild things)

Wild, wild things

USC in the NFL Draft (and other pointless musings)

The draft is over and the picks are in. For those who are too lazy or just didn’t have time to watch the draft (honestly, other than general managers and head coaches, who does?), here they are:

Leonard Williams (DE/DT)- 1st round, 6th overall to the New York Jets
Nelson Agholor (WR)- 1st round, 20th overall to the Philadelphia Eagles
Josh Shaw (S/CB)- 4th round, 120th overall to the Cincinnati Bengals
Javorius “Buck” Allen (RB)- 4th round, 125th overall to the Baltimore Ravens
Randall Telfer (TE)- 6th round, 198th overall to the Cleveland Browns
Hayes Pullard (LB)- 7th round, 219th overall to the Cleveland Browns

Gerald Bowman (S)- undrafted free agent to the Baltimore Ravens
George Farmer (WR)- undrated free agent to the Dallas Cowboys
J.R. Tavai (DE/OLB)- undrafted free agent to the Tennessee Titans
Aundrey Walker (OG/OT)- undrafted free agent to Miami Dolphins

(Photo credit: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images North America)

(Photo credit: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images North America)

Unfortunately, that leaves Andre Heidari as the lone scholarship senior without a shot in the NFL. Hopefully, he had other plans. Leonard Williams is the only one out of these juniors and seniors that will be the only Trojan on their team, but he joins an already scary defensive line.

With the addition of these ten players, there are now 52 Trojans in the NFL (including practice squads). However, by the time the 53-man roster cuts come around, there will probably be a lot of movement.

It’s interesting that if you took all of these players and added one more, it would be a complete NFL roster (in terms of numbers). The depth would be absolutely horrid and badly distributed, but you could definitely scrape a team together. It actually works out to 26 on defense and 26 on offense. With zero injuries, this mock team could possibly be competitive:mock defense 05-02-15mock offense 05-02-15

Go ahead and hate on my 10 minute fake depth chart. I haven’t followed some of these players in years, so I have no idea what their abilities are like at the moment. The point was just to get them all on the chart to see if fielding a full 22 was possible. To make them all fit in there, some people had to be moved out of their best position.

CommBro Breaker

Enough daydreaming—or maybe not. We’ve hit that point in the offseason. No more signing day, no more spring practice, free agency, Combine, spring games, Draft—everything is over. Maybe all that’s left is daydreaming. We must survive the drought which is, unfortunately, both literal and metaphorical. At least one of them ends in August…Sorry to crap on your hopes and dreams, dude. You can always come visit this sad place.

Ultron’s Age Makes Him an Infant: A Review

Film history is a long and strange one. They trace their origins to the late 1800s, much like USC does. Most films were almost immeasurably short during that time period. Any random YouTube video you pull up now would, at the very least, rival one in length. Sound in film didn’t catch on until the late 1920s. Fast forward to 2015 and $200+ million budget films with explosions and ear-rupturing sound aren’t even uncommon. All kinds of new technology like IMAX, 3D (which sucks, by the way), and 4DX are shoved down our throats. We live in a great time to be movie-watchers.

The sheer volume of movies means we also get a metric ton of crap. You know it’s serious when an American switches to the metric system (Just FYI, we DON’T use imperial. We’re more pretentious than that. It’s called “US Customary Units”). To help you sift through the garbage (and maybe collect some cans to recycle), I will release periodic movie reviews. What trip through Los Angeles is complete without a stop in touristy Hollywood? The idea is straightforward: I’ll keep it short, simple, and as spoiler free as possible—it might even be shorter than the early films.

With that being said, the first movie review to grace this blog will be:

Avengers: Age of Ultron.

Runtime: 2 hours, 21 minutes
Budget: Estimated to be $250-280 million

If the budget was only $8.00

If the budget was only $8.00

The bottom line: you get what you pay for. As usual, Joss Whedon gives you a bunch of snarky one-liners and banter. Marvel keeps finding new ways to keep the action different and exciting. They also continue to elegantly weave scattered pieces of Marvel comics together even while taking liberties. The characters being more genre-saavy also adds an interesting flavor. It is a fairly straightfoward and enjoyable movie.


A City of Angles post would not be complete without another angle! I mean come on, the blog’s tagline was a quote in Captain America: The First Avenger with a few changed words. I have to apply some more angles to this review.

First off, I felt like the movie lacked a clear climax like Transformers 3 (which was kinda bad). Some parts also dragged a bit.

And before you try to pat them on the back for all the action scenes, consider this: whether intentional or not, some fight scenes in indoor areas were hard to follow because the shots were too tight. You could say…the ANGLES WERE BAD.


P.S. Why do so many movie critics rely on puns to make it interesting?