Two seasons ago, Oxnard College officials mercifully pulled the plug on the school's baseball program, at least temporarily. The 1986 season had produced no vital signs: an 0-26 record, a depleted pitching staff and, ultimately, the forfeiture of its final six games under Dick Jacquez, an emergency hire as coach.
Health concerns, this time those of 12-year head coach Jerry White--who was on sabbatical leave in 1986--again have forced Oxnard into finding a benefactor. On July 17, White, who suffers from skin problems and stress, made public his resignation.
This time around Oxnard would appear to remain in capable hands.
Similarities to the 1986 debacle, however, do exist. Jacquez was not hired until after the 1985 school year began. The earliest a new coach will be named this year is Sept. 6, when the Ventura County Community College District board of directors meets.
"I think the rationale may have been that we are talking about a spring sport," White said of the late hire in 1986. "If that was indeed the rationale, then they would have seen it differently had they known how much goes into preparing for a season."
Oxnard will take applications until Aug. 26.
Roger Boedecker, Oxnard's acting president, has attempted to act quickly--something that was not done in 1986, producing predictable results in the recruiting arena.
"We got the announcement out as soon as possible," Boedecker said. "As I realized the last time Jerry requested a leave, the prior notification must be soon enough to do an effective job of recruiting."
There is a reason why the recruiting should not suffer in 1989 as it did in 1986: George Peraza will not allow it. White's assistant for 12 years, Peraza was also unavailable in 1986, and the program suffered.
Jacquez was not afforded the luxury of early recruiting and only a few players returned from the 1985 team.
"It was a bad situation," Oxnard Athletic Director Don Brockett admitted.
Peraza, 40, has continued in his assistant role since White's departure. He has handled the budgeting, scheduling, recruiting and the day-to-day operations. He has approximately 30 players on the roster, including redshirts, and is coming off a 27-15 season. In short, Peraza has gone on as if White was to return. Or, more appropriately, as if his appointment to head coach was a formality--which it is not.
Under the district's affirmative action policy, Oxnard must open the position to all qualified applicants. The applications are then passed along to the president, then the school's cabinet, the chancellor, and the district board, which makes the final decision. Brockett would like an appointment by Sept. 6, when the board meets again.
In theory, Peraza, to whom White gives much of the credit for his 235-100 record at Oxnard, has no advantage.
"I think we should go through the process," Brockett said. "I think as soon as you start handing people jobs you get into personal biases. That's why we have affirmative action."
White, in the meantime, has been lobbying in Peraza's behalf.
"I think George Peraza is the man," White said. "I would be in hopes that he would be the man. But they have to go through the formality of opening the job up. All those procedures are necessary."
Peraza, a full-time teacher at Thousand Oaks High, was reluctant to talk about the opening or his chances.
"Not that it's going to hinder my decision, but I would rather stay out of it until they make their decision," he said. "They have their own way of doing things and they have to go along with this. Obviously they're looking for the best person."
And is he the right person?
"I would think so. I would hope so," he said.