Italian Bowl Winning Chris Ault Returns To Milano Rhinos

Italian Bowl winning coach Chris Ault, father of the Pistol offense, is heading back to the Milano Rhinos to add another ring to his collection.

“I am returning because I have too much respect of the players and the entire Rhinos organization. I am very proud of everything we have achieved last year and I’m not going to be content just winning one . The challenge to defend the title and compete for a European cup is truly inspiring. Let’s rock. “

milano rhinos

Ault, who retired in 2012 and spent the previous two seasons as an offensive consultant for the Kansas City Chiefs took over the Rhinos in 2016 and guided them to an undefeated season and their first Italian championship in 26 years.

Four different European teams had approached him in 2015, but at the time he didn’t want to cut short his time with the Chiefs.

Rhinos Milano Campioni IFL 2016

As Ault told the Reno Gazette-Journal at the time::

“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 offered 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.”

In putting together a championship season Ault went back to the basics:

“Most of the changes are pretty obvious, practice habits and effort,  adding the Pistol Offense and a multiple defense. I spent a lot of my time coaching the coaches, who have been a lot of fun to work with and very willing to learn more about American football.”

Major difference in coaching hours

Instead of putting in 100-hour weeks like he did at Nevada, Ault’s team practiced only three times a week, from 9-11 p.m. Each team can have only two American players and the crowds are fairly small. The Italian Football League Super Bowl draws about 5,000 fans.

Nevertheless, the experience of coaching in Europe and the allure of challenging not only for the Italian championship but to venture out into European tournaments, was obviously enough to convince Ault to return to Italy.

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.