One of Troy Calhoun’s longest tenured assistant coaches is leaving Air Force for a post in the Big Ten.
Ben Miller, a 2002 graduate of the Air Force Academy, has been hired at Illinois. He will be the tight ends coach under the new regime there, led by head coach Bret Bielema.
Miller, a former All-Mountain West tackle for the Falcons, began his coaching career in 2002 at Air Force as a graduate assistant, and then was an offensive assistant at Illinois in 2006. He came back to Air Force the next season as part of Calhoun’s initial staff and since then has served in various capacities, coaching tight ends, running backs and special teams. He was most recently the special teams coordinator and running backs coach for the Falcons, which finished the 2020 COVID-shortened season with a 3-3 record.
Before coaching Miller briefly spent time with the Philadelphia Eagles and Cleveland Browns as an offensive lineman, fullback and long snapper. He also spent one year at the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio before transitioning to the Air Force Reserve in 2004.
Miller said in a statement: “I’m beyond excited to be at Illinois and part of Coach Bielema’s staff. This is an exciting time for Illini football. I am impressed with Coach Bielema’s philosophy and vision. Illinois has definitely hired the right head football coach with a proven track record in the Big Ten. My family and I are thrilled at the opportunity to be a part of one of America’s top academic universities and the Illini Football program.”
With Miller leaving, only three assistant coaches remain at Air Force from the 2007 staff: Offensive coordinator Mike Thiessen, strength and conditioning coach Matt McGettigan, and linebackers coach Brian Knorr, who returned to Air Force in 2018 after stints at Wake Forest, Indiana, Ohio State and Arizona.
Additionally, Bart Miller – Air Force’s tight ends coach in 2017 – was hired by Bielema to coach Illinois’ offensive line.
The Illini went 2-6 this past season under Lovie Smith.