Former Oregon and NFL quarterback Chris Miller called it "round two" after he was hired as coach of the South Eugene Axemen on Tuesday.
Miller led the Axemen to a 31-21 record from 2002-06, and the Axemen reached the playoffs during his final four seasons, including a quarterfinal appearance in his last year. The Axemen have not reached the state playoffs since he left and have won only two games, including one by forfeit, in the past three years.
"The thing with me is I have a great passion for coaching high school kids," Miller said. "I think you can help mentor and mold them and be a good role model for them. They have won only one game in three years, so that's the ultimate challenge, but I love a challenge."
Miller inherits a similar situation to his first tenure with the Axemen when South Eugene had not made the playoffs for eight years before he was hired.
When Chad Kessler resigned as coach after three seasons, Miller said he had some friends who are South Eugene graduates encourage him to return to the school. He was also interested in the job because former Oregon running back Dino Philyaw, his former assistant at South, has a stepson who will be a freshman for the Axemen in the fall and Philyaw might once again join his staff.
"Obviously, we are really excited to have Chris because of what he did in the past, and he's a great fit for us," South Eugene athletic director Dave Hancock said. "Hopefully he can turn the numbers around and get more kids out, and that will be good for the kids."
Miller said he was talking to some former Oregon players in addition to Philyaw about joining his staff and also plans to hire some of his former players at South Eugene.
"They are young guys who are eager and fired up, and South Eugene needs that passion," Miller said. "We had a lot of energy and excitement when we were there before and we had a good rivalry with Sheldon, and we will look to rekindle that for the student body and the alumni."
Miller left the Axemen when he was hired as the executive director at Kidsports and then he spent three seasons as the quarterbacks coach for the Arizona Cardinals from 2009 to 2011.
"I've got three years in the NFL under my belt now," said Miller, a 1983 Sheldon graduate who was a first-round pick by Atlanta in 1987 before playing 10 years with the Falcons, Rams and Broncos. "I watched Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers and all those guys. We will have a lot of exciting and new schemes and concepts and we will match those to fit our personnel."