McMillen previously coached the now-extinct Chicago Rush from 2011-2013.
We all know about the chaos that engulfed the Chicago Rush in 2013. Despite having a winning season this year (they were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs), the numerous organizational, logistical and financial problems took it's toll on the team. Last month, the unfortunate decision was made to fold the team. The Arena Football League has had it's fair share of issues since the 2013 season concluded a month ago.
One bright spot was the recently announced expansion of the league. Since 2010, Chicago was the AFL's largest market. With the Rush no longer in business, this expansion came at a good time for the AFL. The league has returned to the Los Angeles area with the new L.A. Kiss (owned by legendary rock band Kiss), thus making Los Angeles the largest AFL market.
This will be the third L.A. franchise in league history. During the 1988 season, the Los Angeles Cobras were the first AFL team in Southern California. They folded after their inaugural campaign. Then from 2000-2009, the Los Angeles Avengers occupied the Staples Center. They folded after the league suspended the 2009 season due to the economic fallout during the Autumn of 2008.
The Kiss will actually be located in Anaheim, but it's proximity to Los Angeles effectively makes it an L.A. franchise. But none the less, the team announced the hiring of it's first head coach recently. It will be non other than former Rush head coach Bob McMillen. McMillen was elected to the AFL Hall of Fame earlier this year. His playing career speaks for itself.
After retiring from the AFL, he remained with the Rush organization. He was the fullback-linebacker coach in 2008, he was hired by then Rush head coach Mike Hohensee. He also held the same position during the AFL's re-birth season in 2010. When Hohensee left the team after the 2010 season, McMillen was hired as his replacement. He coached the team until operations were shut down in August. McMillen like all other Rush employees (players, front office, etc.) were given pink slips at season's end.
At first I wanted to believe that this was only temporary. But during one of my recent trips to Rosemont's Allstate Arena, I got my confirmation when I saw that the Rush's banners were no longer hanging next to the scoreboard on the north end of the arena.
Fortunately for McMillen, he now has the chance to continue his career in a league that he helped build. It would not be a surprise if he brought along some of his old Rush assistant coaches with him. Perhaps he may also add some former Rush players to his roster. As painful as it is to see the Chicago Rush are no more, it's good to see that one of the staples of the organization is back on his feet.
Bob McMillen's record as a winner will serve him well in So-Cal. The Kiss will begin play with the 2014 AFL season which starts in March. Follow me on Twitter @GabeSalgado82