Adam Shackleford knows he has a tough act to follow, but he believes he’s ready for the challenge.
The Spokane Shock announced Wednesday the hiring of Shackleford as their new head coach, pending approval of the arenafootball2 office, Shock general manager Adam Nebeker said. Nebeker doesn’t anticipate any holdups.
Shackleford will replace Chris Siegfried, who guided Spokane to a 17-2 record and an ArenaCup championship in the franchise’s inaugural season. Siegfried left the Shock to become offensive coordinator for the Kansas City Brigade of the Arena Football League.
“I’m looking forward to the challenge, but it’s easier to recruit players to a good place and I have a formula that works,” said Shackleford, who has four years of af2 assistant coaching experience, the last three seasons with the Louisville Fire. “It’s a tough job, but my thing is if the tools are in place, if the organization is run the way it is there then you should have success every year.
“I have high goals and I expect whoever is playing for me to play like they want to win a championship.”
Shackleford, 30, was one of about 10 candidates considered, Nebeker said. The pool included AFL assistants, af2 assistants and current and former af2 head coaches. Shock assistants Travis Crusenberry and Troy Biladeau also interviewed for the head coaching job.
Shackleford, Louisville’s offensive coordinator the last two seasons, emerged as Spokane’s choice because of his proven track record coaching offense and the fact that he handled nearly all of Louisville’s player personnel decisions.
“We’re as excited as we can be because we think he’s one of the bright, innovative minds in arena football,” Nebeker said. “He had numerous teams in af2 after him and some interest from the AFL. We were fortunate that he felt this was one of the most desirable positions.”
Louisville handed Spokane a 79-69 loss in June. The Shock didn’t lose another game the rest of the season. The Fire lost in the first round of the American Conference playoffs. Louisville lost in the ArenaCup in 2005 and was bounced in the second round of the playoffs in 2004.
Shackleford also coached with now-defunct Cincinnati (af2) in 2003. He played center at Anderson (Ind.) University from 1995-98 and has coached at the NCAA Division III school the last seven seasons. He wasn’t planning on coaching this season, but heeded a call from his alma mater when another coach departed. He returned to Anderson eight days ago to work with the offensive line.
“They know my situation,” Shackleford said. “We will be living full time in Spokane and we’re looking forward to being part of that community.”
Shackleford has coached the last two af2 offensive players of the year. Receiver Rob Mager won the award this season and quarterback Matt Sauk was honored in 2005. Fire quarterback Brett Deitz was named the af2 rookie of the year this season.
“He’s had a lot of success scoring points and he understands the game really well,” Nebeker said of Shackleford. “He doesn’t have head coaching experience, but he’s about as close as you can get because he handled recruiting and player decisions for Louisville. Throughout the process we became convinced he was the guy who would recruit players better than anybody else, and if you get the best players you have the best chance to win.”
Shackleford said he will visit with Nebeker in the near future about potential assistant coaches. The new coach didn’t rule out talking with Crusenberry, who coached Spokane’s line, and Biladeau, who coordinated the defense.
Shackleford is getting married in December. His new job might affect honeymoon plans, but he said, “It now looks like we’ll be in Spokane and we’re just fine with that.”
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