Chris Ault, Father of the Pistol Offense, Headed to Coach In Italy

Former Nevada football coach Chris Ault, architect of the Pistol Offense, is on the move again at the age of 68.

The College Football Hall of Famer (inducted 2002) who won more than 230 games in 28 years with the Nevada Wolf Pack, has signed on to coach the Milano Rhinos in the Italian Football League.

milano rhinos

Ault retired in 2012 and spent the last two seasons as an offensive consultant for the Kansas City Chiefs. Four different European teams approached him last year, but he didn’t want to cut short his time with the Chiefs.

Ault told the Reno Gazette-Journal:

“I started looking up European football and it was unbelievable. They have a passion for American football all throughout Europe and they’re trying to create it for their own citizens to learn the game and bring it to a higher level every year and make it a big part of their culture.”

Italian American football was the backdrop for John Grisham’s 2007 novel “Playing for Pizza,” about a former NFL player who went to play for the Parma Panthers — a tale that offers Ault and his wife, Kathy, a glimpse of what they’re about to experience. He said the opportunity to soak up a new culture and teach football from the ground level was too good to pass up.

“I told Kathy, this is exactly like starting up in high school again, being conscious of the fundamentals and the roots,” said Ault, who got his start as an assistant at Churchill County High School in rural Fallon, before head coaching stints at Bishop Manogue and Reno high schools.

“These guys are playing the game for the right reason. They love it. They go to work all day. They practice at night. They raise their family. They don’t get paid. They actually play for pizza. They just play football for the love of the game and the passion of it.”

Ault’s new team, the Rhinos Milano, lost to crosstown rivals the Milan Seamen in last year’s playoffs in Italy. The 12-team league is very different than America’s college game, he said.

Italy - Milano Rhinos - Chris Ault-Colin Kaepernick

Coaching Colin Kaepernick

Instead of putting in 100-hour weeks like he did at Nevada, Ault’s new team will practice only three times a week, from 9-11 p.m. Each team can have only two American players and the crowds are fairly small. Last year’s Italian Football League Super Bowl drew about 4,500 fans.

Ault said he’ll employ his Pistol offense, which he created at Nevada in 2005.

“Not to be fooled, it’s certainly Football 101,” he said. “But the thing I’m excited about is coaching the Pistol and adding some things to the offense and having a chance to experience the Pistol from the ground floor again. On top of that, we’ll get the chance to experience Europe in a special city like Milan.”

Ault will travel to Milan in late October to see the football operations and then he and Kathy will return in January for training camp. The season in Italy runs from March to late June. He said she started to get interested when team officials told her, “Milan is the fashion capital of the world.”

Information from: Reno Gazette-Journal and Associated Press.

Roger Kelly is an editor and a writer for AFI. A former PR Director the B.C. Lions of the Canadian Football League for 7 years, he now lives in Sweden writing about and scouting American Football throughout the world.