MONTREAL -- When Scott Milanovich gives future Hall-of-Famer Anthony Calvillo advice, he certainly doesn't draw much from his CFL playing experience.
Milanovich hardly remembers the half-season he spent with the Calgary Stampeders as an emergency replacement quarterback in 2003.
Now as offensive co-ordinator of the Montreal Alouettes, Milanovich is helping Calvillo lead the team into the Grey Cup tomorrow against the Stamps.
During the 2003 season, Calgary had Marcus Crandell and Kevin Feterik at quarterback, but both were injured in the first month of the season.
Milanovich, who had just finished coaching in NFL Europe's World Bowl, was thrown into action and threw four interceptions in his first start, a loss to the Saskatchewan Roughriders.
"The plan certainly wasn't for me to play three weeks in," Milanovich said when reminded. "Both guys got hurt and I was in there before I was ready. I didn't play very well.
"I already knew I was going to coach. (Then-head coach) Jim Barker and I had a relationship before. Getting into action just came a little earlier than Jim anticipated."
Milanovich soon retired from active play after going 40-of-72 passing for 521 yards with seven interceptions and one touchdown.
When Barker was fired at season's end, Milanovich returned to Europe as an offensive co-ordinator, but he remembers his experience in Calgary fondly.
"It was different being in the locker-room as a player and then becoming a coach," Milanovich said. "That was hard, and I wouldn't recommend that. As far as me becoming a coach, that was a smooth transition."
Milanovich spent four years in Europe, three with the Rhein Fire and the final one with the Cologne Centurions before getting hired as Montreal's quarterbacks coach last year.
He was elevated to offensive co-ordinator under new head coach Marc Trestman, and the duo helped Calvillo to a career year in which he threw 43 TD passes.
Although Calvillo is a year older than Milanovich, the pivot said he learns constantly from his new OC.
"I don't care how long you've been playing, you need to be open-minded," Calvillo said. "He's always correcting me on the footwork, and it's good to have someone like him in your corner.
"The fact he's played the game as well, when I explain something to him, he knows where I'm coming from. It's a great asset to have."
Milanovich spent five years as a player in the NFL and has the distinction of being the only first-overall draft pick in the history of the XFL.
It was his time in Europe as a coach that really prepared him for the job he has now with the Alouettes.
"I got to be a co-ordinator at a really young age," Milanovich said. "I got to make some mistakes and learn on the job when the pressure was off. NFL Europe was a developmental league. It wasn't like you had to win.
"It was a good learning experience for me, because I could be hands-on and have my own offence. I learned a lot when I was there."