Fever Reverse Course, Stay in NIFL
KENNEWICK, Wash. - Two major announcements were made by the Tri-City Fever on Tuesday. They're staying in the NIFL, and naming former quarterback Doug Coleman their new head coach. Here's a breakdown of the major issues resolved Tuesday:
LEAGUE SWITCH: The Tri-City Fever spent the last few months researching a jump to the UIF. Last month, owner Randy Schillinger went as far to say the move to the UIF was "pretty much a done deal." At the time, the Fever were one of five regional NIFL teams that were to all going to jump to the UIF. But only one of the five, Billings, has gone through with it, and Schillinger didn't like the possibility of playing in a mid-west league with only Billings and Tri-City up in the Northwest. "Geographically it didn't make sense to me," he said. "The UIF is supposed to be a bus league."
Making Schillinger's decision easier was what he calls "improvements" in the way the NIFL is run. In year's past, multiple teams would fold in the middle of the season. But steps have been taken to raise the franchise fee, hopefully creating more committed owners, and thus more competitive teams.
"My main issue was the teams folding," he said. "But I feel those issues are going to be taken care of this year." Additionally the NIFL has gained credibility by hiring former pro football star Cleveland Gary to be their head of legaue operations.
TOYOTA CENTER LEASE: The Fever's lease with the Toyota Center runs through Feb. of 2008, and both Schillinger and Toyota Center Director Jeff Kossow hope to have the team play there for a long time. "We want the same thing," Schillinger said. Kossow had no influence over Schillinger's decision and said he would have been happy with whichever league the Fever chose. "We're just the third-party in the whole deal," explained Kossow.
NEW COACH DOUG COLEMAN: The new coach isn't really new. Coleman has plenty of NIFL experience, which includes quarterbacking the Fever to the NIFL Championship in 2005. He'll replace Dan Whitestt, who resigned before this year's playoffs due to personal reasons. Coleman has just one year of coaching to his credit. Last year he was offensive coordinator for Louisiana in the Intense Football League. But it's his personality that excites Schillinger. "This guy is one of the most charismatic leaders I've ever been around," said Schillinger. "The players will really look up to him, and his experience speaks for itself."
Coleman will arrive in Kennewick in November for the team's tryouts.
The NIFL announcement is a big relief for Schillinger who can now proceed with normal operations. "We're past our major hurdle. We're ready to roll. We're signing players and getting ready for the year."