Sports

Clovis bid a huge boost for Merced -- either way

Whatever decision Rob Scheidt makes in the next few days will be hugely important to the overall picture of sports in

this area.

No, wait.

It's actually more than that.

Scheidt's ultimate choice on whether or not to apply for the coaching job at Clovis West is the biggest sports story we've covered in the past couple of years.

Not only that, but whether Rob stays or goes, the fallout from all this will have a dramatic impact on prep football in Merced County far down the road.

Late on Friday, Scheidt told Sun-Star reporter Shawn Jansen that he hadn't made up his mind about becoming a formal applicant in Clovis, and some of Rob's statements during that conversation would seem to hint that he might be staying home.

"I love the people here," Scheidt said. "We're not finished with what we're going to do here."

Scheidt admitted that his daily life might be easier in Clovis, since he'd basically do a little teaching -- about football -- and be free of any other classroom worries.

Ditto for fund-raising, which Rob and Merced athletic director Scott Winton must oversee on the routine basis.

At Clovis West, the booster club takes care of all that.

Of course, the price a coach pays for that luxury is that he remains at the mercy of the boosters -- which was proven recently when Marty Martin was fired after one year despite going 9-4-1 and taking West to the section finals.

One last tip, if that's what it was...

"I'm still dreaming black and orange, whatever that means," Scheidt said. "I'm not seeing cardinal and gold.

"I don't dream about football all the time, but when I went to sleep last night, I was dreaming about our team and what we could do next year. I still see black helmets.

"Maybe that's an indication of which way I should be leaning."

Perhaps.

We'll see what happens after Rob talks a little bit more with the folks in Clovis.

But there's another point worth mentioning, and it concerns the status of the Merced High program.

Here's the thing: Whatever Scheidt ultimately decides, Merced already is a winner.

Obviously victory would be more dramatic if Rob decides not to leave, since he'd still be here running the show.

Either way, though, Merced's perception -- in the eyes of prospective athletes, recruiters, potential assistant coaches and people involved in prep football around the state -- has been significantly enhanced.

This overture from Clovis West, one of the biggest, most ambitious and richest program in California, already has changed Scheidt's profile.

He's now a star in his business.

What a lot of people don't understand is there is significant benefit to that, even if you aren't using it as a stepping-stone to another job.

For instance, Merced has an excellent group of assistant coaches -- some who conceivably might move with Rob to Clovis if he becomes West's latest "chosen one."

Because of Scheidt's success on the field and his growing reputation off it, Merced has become a more attractive destination in the eyes of other coaches, too -- whether they're people who might be needed to assist Rob...

Or replace him.

With all respect to Jon Betschart -- who did an outstanding job in his first year -- that's the kind of clout Golden Valley just couldn't muster when it was trying to replace Dennis Stubbs.

Stubbs was -- and is -- a terrific, successful coach, but leaving for Los Banos doesn't rattle the state football establishment quite like a courtship from Clovis West.

This pursuit of Scheidt has put his program back on the level it enjoyed in those glory days of the late 1980s.

Teams now look at Merced differently in terms of scheduling. It should be easier to get games with state powerhouses because they now see Merced as "big-time" -- rather than a tough opponent who offer no reward if you win head to head.

Maybe other schools in the area feel a pinch of jealousy reading all this, but really, they should look at it another way.

This increased level of respect rubs off on the CCC, and on football in the entire Central Valley.

It's a win-win for everyone in our neighborhood.

So...

I guess we should say thank you to Clovis West.

But still hope they don't get their man.

Steve Cameron is sports editor of the Sun-Star. He can be reached at 384-2221 or via e-mail at scameron@mercedsunstar.com.

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