Former CFL head coach Ron Smeltzer named OL coach for Barcelona Dragons

If embattled CFL fans are longing for a time machine right, they should just book a trip to Spain instead.

The Barcelona Dragons of the European League of Football announced on Saturday the hiring of former Ottawa Rough Riders head coach Ron Smeltzer as their offensive line coach, making him the third former CFL head coach added to the team’s coaching staff.

Long-time CFL head coach and general manager Adam Rita was named the Dragon’s first head coach in February, while the ‘Throwin’ Samoan’ Joe Paopao signed on as quarterbacks coach in late March. All three coaches have experience working together from their days in Vancouver with the B.C. Lions.

“He is a coach who has trained both American and Canadian teams. He has had a very extensive career in which he has lived all the faces of football,” Dragons GM Bart Iaccarino said of Smeltzer’s hiring.

“His experience is huge and very important to us. He has already worked with Adam Rita in the past. They know each other and get along very well.”

The Dragons, who changed their name from the Gladiators last month following an agreement with the NFL for NFL Europe trademarks, are one of eight teams in the newly launched ELF. Others include the Wroclaw Panthers of Poland, Berlin Thunder, Cologne Centurions, Frankfurt Galaxy, Leipzig Kings, Stuttgart Scorpions and Hamburg Sea Devils.

Smeltzer broke into the CFL in 1984 as offensive line coach for the B.C. Lions while Rita was calling plays, before jumping to Calgary in 1986 to serve as offensive coordinator. He returned to the Lions from 1988 to 1989 and was hired as offensive line coach in Edmonton in 1991.

In 1992, Smeltzer joined the now defunct Ottawa Rough Riders as their seventh head coach in seven years. Smeltzer went 9-9 his first season — the first time in a decade that the Riders didn’t post a losing record — but was fired after going 4-14 in year two.

His final CFL stop was as offensive coordinator of the expansion Las Vegas Posse in 1994, before becoming a well-respected high school coach in Nevada. The 79-year-old has been retired since 2007 but will now travel to the Iberian Peninsula to join his former colleagues.

The brainchild of former NFL Europe coach turned German NFL broadcaster Patrick Esume, the European League of Football is scheduled to start its debut season on June 20. It has marketed itself as the first professional style American football on the continent since the fall of NFL Europe, from which many of its teams derive their names.

J.C. Abbott is a student at the University of British Columbia and amateur football coach in Vancouver, Canada. A CFL writer for 3DownNation, his love of travel has been the root of his fascination with the global game.