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updated: 2/24/2011 5:00 PM

Rush: McMillen the perfect choice to run team

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  • As expected, former Chicago Rush star Bob McMillen has been hired as the team's new head coach.

    As expected, former Chicago Rush star Bob McMillen has been hired as the team's new head coach.
    Daniel White | Staff Photographer

By John Juettner

While Bob McMillen calls his new coaching job a "dream" come true, Chicago Rush president Gene Nudo says there was nothing hazy about the choice - ­McMillen is a perfect fit for the Arena Football League franchise.

The Rush officially introduced McMillen Tuesday as the team's second head coach in its history.

The Elmhurst native and Naperville resident played for the Rush from 2002-07 and spent 13 seasons as a player in the AFL. When he retired from the Rush, McMillen was brought back as the fullbacks/linebackers coach. This past season he was an assistant head coach to Mike Hohensee, who resigned last month to join the Philadelphia Soul.

"This has been a dream of mine for many years," McMillen said of becoming a head coach. "That man (Hohensee) taught me so much about the game of football. He taught me how to be a better person, a better man, a better husband, and I could not thank him enough for everything he's taught me."

McMillen said he was shocked when he heard the news about Hohensee.

"I thought as long as the Chicago Rush were around, Coach Hohensee was going to be the guy," McMillen said. "When I heard he had resigned and took another position, it was an opportunity that came my way, and I wasn't going to let it pass me by."

The Rush also officially introduced Nudo as president and general manager of the team on Tuesday. Nudo has more than 20 years in the AFL, and a history with McMillen.

When Nudo was general manager of the Arizona Rattlers in 1995, McMillen was the first player he signed.

"This guy is as tough as nails. He embodies everything our city is about ," Nudo said. "People better put their chinstraps on when they play the Chicago Rush."

Nudo, a Norridge native, was head coach at Driscoll Catholic from 1989 to 1991. He helped guide Driscoll to the 1991 Class 3A football title.

"I've been gone for 15 years," Nudo said. "Chicago is the most wonderful place in the world."

Both men appreciate the success the Rush has enjoyed. In its nine seasons Chicago has not missed the playoffs, and the team was the 2006 ArenaBowl champions.

McMillen played on that 2006 team, and won titles as a player in 1997 with Arizona and in 2002 with San Jose.

"I've been in this league for 15 years and never missed the playoffs," McMillen said. "I plan on continuing that streak."

McMillen said he wants to put a focus on keeping the Rush players healthy in 2011, and he is going to put an emphasis on conditioning.

McMillen has deep roots in the suburbs. He went to high school at Immaculate Conception in Elmhurst, and was a three-time all-American at Benedictine University in Lisle. He was also named one of the 20 greatest players in AFL history.

Roster update: The Rush has agreed to a contract with Chris Gould, the 2010 AFL Kicker of the Year. Gould is the younger brother of Bears kicker Robbie Gould.

McMillen also said the team is trying to bring back quarterback Russ Michna.

"Russ is our number one target," McMillen said. "To have a successful football team, you have to have a great quarterback. Russ is one of the top football quarterbacks in this league, if not the top quarterback. We want Russ back."