Chris Miller will spend one more season coaching high school football before returning to the professional game while still seeking an opportunity to coach in college.
The former Oregon and NFL quarterback is preparing for his sixth and final season at West Linn High School. As soon as the prep season ends, Miller will take over as offensive coordinator for Houston’s franchise in the new XFL.
“It fits the calendar,” Miller said. “If we make it to the state championship, that is the first weekend in December and then we have an XFL minicamp that month followed by training camp in January and then the season runs February through April.”
Miller was hired by Houston coach June Jones, an Oregonian who was the offensive coordinator of the Atlanta Falcons when Miller was the quarterback from 1991-93. The two coached together during a college All-Star game in 2016.
Jones, who previously coached in Houston with the Oilers of the NFL and Gamblers of the USFL, spent last season as coach of the Hamilton Tiger Cats in the CFL.
“June told me that he had me in mind for some opportunities and then this came up and he thought of me immediately,” Miller said. “He came to town a couple weeks ago and we met up. He’s a great coach who motivates people.”
Miller will be back in pro football after playing 10 seasons before serving as quarterbacks coach of the Arizona Cardinals from 2009-11.
Miller served two stints as football coach at South Eugene while working as the executive director of Kidsports. He left the Axemen for West Linn in 2014 and has gone 52-12 in five seasons with the Lions, including a Class 6A title in 2016.
“We have a special group of kids this year and June let me work one more year,” Miller said. “We have the chance to do something special. Then I am ready for bigger challenges and the chance to earn a better living. It will be nice to coach ball at a higher level.”
The league will feature eight teams with some different rules than the NFL including a 25-second play clock.
“It will be an up-tempo, wide-open offense,” Miller said. “We will spin it all over so that will be fun. June will call the plays and I will be the coordinator. It’s a collaborative effort.”
Miller was in Houston last week for a combine and there will also be tryout camps to build the league's initial rosters. He is confident the league will not fade away quickly like the Alliance of American Football because league chairman Vince McMahon has pledged to fund nearly $500 million for the first three seasons.
Former West Virginia athletic director Oliver Luck, who served as president of NFL Europe, has been named commissioner of the XFL. The league has television contracts with ABC, ESPN and Fox.
“I am excited because I think we will have a lot of guys who love to play football and are passionate about it to continue chasing the dream and playing as many years as they can,” Miller said. “These are not guys who made millions in the NFL so they will be eager to learn. It is a 10-game season with a chance to make the playoffs, so it is not a marathon. The six-month job was appealing to me. I still have my eye on a college opening if the right opportunity presents itself.”
Miller got a degree in interdisciplinary studies from Northwest Christian University last year so he could coach in college.
“I committed to June, but if a college job came up I would discuss it with him to make sure it is the right fit,” he said. “I am grateful to have the XFL opportunity so we will see what happens.”