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Miller has led the team for five years, but will leave to join Houston in the reformed XFL

PMG PHOTO: MILES VANCE - West Linn head football coach Chris Miller recently announced that he will leave the Lions' program after the 2019 fall season to join the Houston team in the new XFL professional football league.Chris Miller's highly successful tenure as West Linn's football coach is about to come to an end.

Miller — who has compiled a 52-12 record in five seasons with the Lions, including a Class 6A title in 2016 — has accepted an offensive coordinator position with Houston of the newly formed XFL. He will coach West Linn in the coming fall season before starting his new job Dec. 3.

He said he has agreed to stay on for one more season with his players because "I wouldn't want to bail on them now and traumatize them," but added that he is ready for a new opportunity.

"It's a wrap. Six years is good for me," the former University of Oregon and NFL quarterback said. "I kind of like doing five-year increments. I'm kind of ready to move on to a higher level of ball and a better living."

Miller will earn about $150,000 for six months of work with Houston. As an off-campus coach at West Linn, he has been working off a stipend from the booster club.

"I don't teach, so I need to get out there and make a better living for my family," he said. "It's full benefits, and the whole deal. It'll open up some other doors and opportunities. It'll be a good resume builder as well."

Houston coach June Jones, who coached Miller with the Atlanta Falcons, reached out to Miller to gauge his interest in joining the team's coaching staff. They met late last month in West Linn to discuss the job.

"We talked ball," Miller said. "He wanted to know that I had a legitimate interest in it. I said, 'Heck, yeah. I'd love to work for you.' He's the type of man you want to work for. He won't grind you down and he enjoys it, has fun. … We go way back. He's a great friend and I love him like a brother."

Before joining West Linn, Miller went 33-29 in two stints as the coach at South Eugene (2002-06, 2013) and was the quarterbacks coach for the Arizona Cardinals for three seasons (2009-11).

He completed his bachelor's degree in December and has looked into college coaching jobs at schools such as Northern Arizona and Sacramento State. He said he applied for the head coaching position at Bucknell and made the final five, but the school opted to hire Valparaiso coach Dave Cecchini because of his college experience.

"I probably talked to about nine or 10 schools and got some good interest," Miller said. "It was nice to get through that experience and see what they're looking for. I'll keep my eye on some college jobs. There's one in our town, I don't want to name it, but if that came open, I would be all over it."

Miller said he believes he could make an impact on a college program.

"I know I'd do a phenomenal job at recruiting and putting a staff together," he said. "I would love that challenge. I'm kind of into rebuilding things."

The chance to build from the ground up is part of the XFL's appeal to him, he said. He also likes that he will have more free time to spend with his family, travel and do church and charitable activities.

"I don't necessarily desire to grind the rest of my life," Miller said. "An NFL job can take years off your life, especially if your team's not doing very well."

He is open to other possibilities in the XFL.

"Maybe if they expand and I'm doing a heck of a job and doing what I know I'm capable of doing, maybe they (will) consider me for a head coaching job in that league," he said.

Miller said he plans to recommend Aaron Skinner, West Linn's defensive coordinator the last two years, as his successor. He said Skinner is an up-and-comer.

"He's brilliant," Miller said. "He's a guy I'm going to push for hard. He's going to be extremely qualified and very well respected in the West Linn community, my coaching staff and players."

As for a return to high school someday, Miller said he would consider helping in some manner if his son, Dillon, landed a head coaching job. He views this season as his last as a high school head coach.

"I'm really excited to put everything I've got into this year and make a run at it," Miller said. "I've got a special group of kids, a real talented group."

If the Lions — quarterfinalists the last two years — make it to the state championship game Dec. 1, that would give Miller little time to get ready for the start of Houston's mini-camp Dec. 3.

"Man, I'd be good with that," Miller said.

— Jerry Ulmer writes for OSAAtoday


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