FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Ben and J-Lo couldn't do it. Tom and Nicole couldn't do it. Even Eisner and Ovitz couldn't do it.
Can Pete and Norm do it?
The fragile ground that often collapses under the weight of Hollywood unions has not yet crumbled beneath the cleats of its latest power couple.
But the groaning and creaking is real.
The revered USC football coach and his respected offensive coordinator are celebrating their fourth anniversary next week with a national championship date night against Oklahoma.
But the relationship has been hard work that's not getting any easier.
Said Pete Carroll: "Norm has had an extraordinary career."
Said Norm Chow: "Pete's the boss. I know my place."
They say nice things because they are truly nice people, and because the Trojans already have had enough distractions on their road to Tuesday's Orange Bowl game against Oklahoma.
But those close to the program have seen how four years can be a long time for college football's best coach and college football's best mind to exist under the same low roof.
As their careers have soared, so have the number of their collisions.
As the air around them is increasingly rarefied, it's getting harder for both to breathe.
Much of it is quiet, most of it is philosophical, but enough of it exists that even parents of high school recruits have heard about it.
Carroll is irked at the national perception that he and Chow operate as co-head coaches, with Carroll running the defense while Chow controls the offense.
"That's really not how it's been," Carroll said Thursday, launching into a lengthy explanation of how he has helped shape it into "USC's offense."
Chow is irked at the national perception that he is not head coaching material despite a 32-year resume that includes one national title and three Heisman Trophy winners.
"I don't have a clue," he said when asked why he has been bypassed. "I guess people look at certain things, and I don't fit those qualifications."
Neither man is publicly irked at the other. Carroll is constantly complimentary of Chow, and Chow is insistently deferential to Carroll.
Their differences just seem to be one of those things that always happens to a power couple, there being only so much available power.
The first USC coach mentioned by Oklahoma's Bob Stoops on Thursday during his welcoming news conference was Chow.
Yet in any discussion of the country's great coaches, the first name mentioned is Carroll.
Next week's national TV cameras will certainly focus toward the press box, on the studious Chow.
But if there is a game-ending bucket of water dumped, it will be dumped on the gregarious Carroll.
Chow is the brain who changed Carson Palmer and anointed Matt Leinart.
Yet Carroll is the motivator who made them stars.
Said Carroll: "I think [Chow] has a clear-cut legacy ... he's the quarterback-maker."
Said Chow: "It's Pete's team, he gives me the orders, I just carry them out. It works great that way."
Chow is clearly ready to give those orders, yet, despite 21 Division I-A head coaching vacancies this off-season, he is still in that press box.
Some say it's because he's too quiet and introspective during job interviews. But in his entire career, he has had only three interviews for college head-coaching positions -- Kentucky, Arizona and Stanford. He turned down an offer from Kentucky, saying it wasn't the right fit.
Others wonder whether some of college football's big-time athletic directors who have long snubbed African American candidates aren't ready for the game's first Asian American head coach.
Chow left Brigham Young in 2000 after a long career there as an assistant coach because, among other things, he heard a university official make a racial slur during a meeting.
So don't blame him now if Chow is among those wondering.
"Some factors you can deal with, others you can't," he said.
Chow told reporters Thursday afternoon that he still wanted to become a head coach.
But a couple of hours earlier, Carroll said, "[Chow] is not just champing at the bit to be a head coach."
Whatever. Somehow, even sometimes shakily, the union survives.
"It works because they are both so humble," said Ed Orgeron, the defensive line mastermind who has been hired as head coach at Mississippi. "And we've become a family here. Whatever happens, we handle it in-house."
In the beginning, as in all beginnings, it was so much simpler.
Shortly after Carroll was hired as head coach in the winter after the 1999 season, he thought so highly of Chow that he hired him without ever having worked with him.
Carroll was new to the big-time college game. Chow was the calm guru who would teach him. Carroll would specialize in defense. Chow would run the offense. It worked in the NFL. It made sense here.
But after his first season, Carroll took a slight detour from that model.