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“Typically you talk about a two-year commitment. (But) this was a unique opportunity and I would never hold anybody back from an opportunity to be a head coach,” Whittingham said. “If you’re talking about leaving to become coordinator at another school or a move that’s resembling lateral (move) then that’s a little difficult to swallow but anytime you have a chance to get position that’s a head job I don’t believe in holding anybody back.”

Chow’s two-year contract at Utah pays him $275,000 a year. It also includes a $20,000 bonus if the team goes to a BCS bowl game. Chow may leave the contract early by giving 30 days’ notice in writing.

Chow previously served as offensive coordinator at UCLA, for the Tennessee Titans, at Southern California, North Carolina State and Brigham Young, helping to develop four Heisman Trophy winners

Moving to Hawaii will be a homecoming for the 65-year-old Chow.

Chow was born and raised in the plantation town of Waialua, located on Oahu’s North Shore. He graduated from Punahou School in Honolulu and got his coaching start at Waialua High and Intermediate School before becoming a graduate assistant at BYU in 1973.

He spent 27 years as assistant under LaVell Edwards at BYU running its innovative spread offense. He helped the Cougars to their only national championship in 1984.

He was also coordinator under Pete Carroll at USC when the Trojans won national titles in 2003 and 2004. He left USC in 2005 and became offensive coordinator of the Tennessee Titans but was fired after three seasons. Rick Neuheisel brought Chow to UCLA in 2007 but he was replaced by Mike Johnson after three seasons.

Chow may be best known for helping star quarterbacks Jim McMahon, Steve Young, Ty Detmer, Philip Rivers, Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart. Detmer, Palmer and Leinart won Heisman Trophies under his tutelage.

Chow would make his coaching debut for Hawaii when the Warriors open the 2012 season at USC on Sept. 1. Hawaii faces BYU the same month in Provo, Utah.

Chow may be joined by Utah defensive coordinator Kalani Sitake, who was asked to apply for the Hawaii job but did not do so. Utah lost both coordinators before in 2008. The Utes lost offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig, who went to serve as offensive coordinator at Cal, and defensive coordinator Gary Andersen, who took the Utah State head coaching job.

More than 40 coaches applied for the Hawaii coaching position that was left vacant when Greg McMackin left.

McMackin recently retired with a year remaining on his five-year contract after the Warriors went a disappointing 6-7 and missed the postseason for the second time in his four years at the helm. McMackin, who was paid $1.1 million a year, was 29-25 overall at Hawaii, including 0-2 in bowl games, with one winning season in 2010.

The Warriors just completed their final season in the Western Athletic Conference. They are moving to the Mountain West Conference starting next season.

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AP Sports Writer Jaymes Song in Honolulu contributed to this report.