KENNEWICK -- With just 2 1/2 months to put an indoor football team together, coach Adam Shackleford led his Tri-Cities Fever to a 7-8 record this season.
Imagine what he could do with a full offseason -- 6 1/2 months.
"We're actively recruiting," said Shackleford. "We're hitting the phones hard. We're talking to agents, trying to sell the Tri-Cities. It's a good place to play."
It was in the second half of this season, after a 1-5 start.
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"This year, we struggled with experience, especially early," he said. "But I knew it would happen. There was not one guy (on the opening day roster) who had ever played for me before."
And don't forget, when Shackleford took over as coach -- after then-coach Pat O'Hara signed to lead Orlando in the AFL -- there really was no Fever roster.
"Last year, every other team already had a 30-player roster frozen," said Fever owner Teri Carr, who made the decision in the offseason to pull out of the planned second tier of the AFL into the Indoor Football League.
"When I took the job, we had six guys under contract," said Shackleford. "Those guys had to re-sign because we moved from the af2 to the IFL. And some of them didn't want to re-sign. It was a whirlwind, crazy month, signing 41 guys and getting them into camp."
It ended up working, as the team made the playoffs for the first time in four years.
"I think we got some things accomplished this year," Shackleford said. "The back half of the season was obviously better for the team than the first half."
For the 2011 season, Shackleford is looking to keep a core of 12 to 16 players from this past season's squad, and then finish the roster with some solid rookies.
"You win football games in the offseason recruiting," Shackleford said. "We're just recruiting hard and trying to get these local (Northwest) guys to sign."
He said he wants to get players from the University of Washington, Washington State and Eastern Washington University, among other Northwest schools.
"I always felt the key to success was not letting guys go in your backyard," he said.
Shackleford said he and his staff are scouring the NFL cut lists from the lastest round of mini-camps, trying to build the 30-man roster into 45. He said six contracts are out now for consideration.
Meanwhile, Carr also feels good about this season. She and her husband, J.R., were the original owners of the franchise in 2005 before selling, then buying back in for the 2010 season.
"I think it was a positive thing across the board," she said. "I would like to see more support from the community."
But she knew the team had to rebuild its reputation with the Tri-Cities community after a few years of struggling in the af2.
"It was so bad," she said. "We knew we had some rebuilding to do. But you know, what we've got is a good, diehard base of fans."
And she is pretty high on the IFL.
"There are more stable teams and ownership groups in this league (than there were in the old National Indoor Football League that the Fever was in for 2005-06)," Carr said. "(The IFL) does a better job across the board of running the league. They've got people doing the things the right way. People who oversee football operations are qualified to do so."
NOTES: The IFL league meetings are set for Sept. 8-10, when Carr said the league will look at applications for new franchises. Lehigh Valley in Pennsylvania has already been accepted. ... Carr said it was highly unlikely Anchorage would get another team. The league folded the Wild franchise this season when bills went unpaid. ... What that does to Fairbanks is unknown. "I feel bad for (Fairbanks owner) Ricky (Bertz). Alaska and Fairbanks were supposed to share the costs of visiting teams flying in to play up there. But when Alaska folded, Ricky was caught holding the bill for a lot of that." ... The IFL's final four is set with the conference championships Saturday. The United Conference final has the Wichita Wild at the Sioux Falls Storm set for 5:05 p.m., while the Intense Conference final pits the Arkansas Diamonds at the Billings Outlaws at 6 p.m.