UCLA will get to keep its offensive coordinator for two more seasons, as Norm Chow has agreed in principle to an extension that it is believed will make him the highest-paid assistant coach in Bruins history, an athletic department source said.
Chow, long considered one of college football's top offensive coordinators, is expected to earn between $400,000 and 500,000 per season under the two-year extension, said the source, who was not authorized to comment publicly on the contract. The contract does not include a buyout.
Only 18 NCAA Division I assistants received a base salary of $400,000 or more last season, with five making more than $600,000, according to a report in USA Today last year.
Tennessee's Monte Kiffin, now at USC, made $1.2 million. Texas' Will Muschamp received $900,000. Tennessee's Ed Orgeron, who also jumped to USC, made $650,000. Florida State's Jimbo Fischer made $629,000 and Washington's Nick Holt $600,000.
The final details of Chow's contract are being worked out, but it is expected to be in place well before the season opener at Kansas State on Sept. 4.
UCLA officials declined to comment. Chow could not be reached for comment.
The Bruins feared losing Chow in January, after USC officials contacted representatives of the 64-year-old coach about returning as the Trojans' offensive coordinator. Chow spent four seasons at USC, during which the Trojans won national championships in 2003 and 2004 and two of their quarterbacks — Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart — won the Heisman Trophy.
Chow passed on the overtures after UCLA officials agreed to work on a contract extension before the 2010 season. Chow will make $340,000 this season — the final year of a three-year deal. He also received a $250,000 bonus in April for remaining at UCLA through the contract.
Chow, who is beginning his 35th season on the collegiate level, also saw great success as an assistant at Brigham Young. During his tenure, quarterback Ty Detmer won the Heisman in 1990 and the school won a national title in 1984. .
Behind the eight ball
UCLA was picked to finish eighth in the Pacific 10 Conference by the media, the same spot in which the Bruins finished in 2009.
"It's sad, but we have a chance of changing it," safety Rahim Moore said at the conference's media day Thursday. "It shows nobody respects you. When you have people ranked in front of you who you know you can beat, or that you've beat before, they should be behind you. You can't worry about it. All you can do is control what you do."
Asked if he had an eighth-place team, Coach Rick Neuheisel said, "In a much bigger conference."
A year ago at media day, Neuheisel said a successful season would end with a bowl game. The Bruins got there … barely … getting an EagleBank Bowl invitation after a 6-6 regular season.
This year, Neuheisel stayed away from setting the bar, saying only, "We made strides the last couple years and that gives us the right to talk about being a good football team."
The Bruins are already a little dinged up heading into fall camp, which begins Aug. 9.
Wide receiver Josh Smith (left knee) and guard Darius Savage (back) are expected to work back in slowly, but Neuheisel said both should be ready by the opener.
Freshman defensive back Anthony Jefferson had an MRI exam on his hip and freshman defensive end Owamagbe Odighizuwa had a cortisone shot for a groin injury. Neuheisel said both should be able to practice.
Tight end John Young and defensive end Derrick Bryant, both incoming freshmen, will be unable to participate this season. Both had shoulder surgery. … Cornerback Brandon Sermons will miss the season with a broken leg.