Jeff Waggoner’s head is spinning with a myriad of emotions.
That’s because Marshall University’s baseball coach has a lot more questions than he does answers.
Will his seniors receive an additional year of eligibility after losing the majority of their 2020 season due to the coronavirus panic? Will the 35-man roster be expanded for the 2021 season as a one-time dispensation? Will a redshirt senior be allowed to come back for a sixth year?
Those are all legitimate questions that need legitimate answers.
“I think giving the seniors another year of eligibility is the right thing,” said Waggoner, who had 10 seniors on his 2020 roster. “I don’t think all of them will come back. Some of them will graduate ... unless they decide to go to grad school.
“If your roster goes up a little bit for one year, I don’t see that as being a big deal. I mean, that’s just more competition in your program, maybe more kids redshirt, it lets kids travel ... for one year, I think it might add more competition.”
Giving the seniors another year of eligibility definitely would be the right move for the NCAA.
“Not all sports could do it,” said Waggs, “but I think they are trying to for baseball. We only played 15 games. The first 15 games for us — a northern team in baseball — we never start off fast. You never — at Marshall and Conference USA where we’re at — you never know how your team is going to start moving on.
“Like, we won our last four out of five. You just don’t know. You open up at the University of Florida and then you play a tough schedule and you lose some games, but we usually get on a roll. I don’t think those seniors had a fair chance to prove themselves.”
The same is true for coach Randy Mazey at West Virginia University. The Mountaineers were 11-5 and won six of their last seven games when the season was shut down. The difference between WVU and Marshall’s plight is the Mountaineers had only three seniors.
Yet, the one-time roster expansion still is necessary.
“Yeah, they’re going to have to,” said Waggoner. “And, then, they are going to give the seniors back the money [scholarship money] they were on. I think we’re all kind of caught ... we’re all kind of guessing right now.
“It blows my mind just thinking about it. In baseball, for one sport, we have to deal with kids that might get drafted as juniors and your seniors leaving, so you’re using scholarship money that you’re probably going to lose anyway to give to incoming kids.
“So, I don’t know how we’re going to juggle our scholarship money. My biggest concern is this. The one thing that I would hope is the presidents and the athletic directors and the commissioners of the leagues will be proactive to the NCAA on what they want for our league.
“What scares me is the Power 5 teams start putting out what they want and the NCAA follows that and we’re basically stuck cleaning up everything.”
See why Waggs’ head is spinning?
“Let’s face it, Ohio State, LSU, Kentucky — no matter what, kids are always going to want to go there,” he said. “They’re not going to be in nearly the situation we’re going to be in. Who knows how far this could set us back? I don’t know.
“You can’t even sit here and guess what the NCAA is going to do with rules. They said the seniors but, OK, what about the scholarship money? What about giving everybody their year back? We don’t know any of that stuff.”
So, it all becomes guesswork. Well, guess what? Coaches hate to guess.
“I’m sitting here guessing because you just don’t know,” said Waggoner. “I think we need to be more proactive and try to tell the NCAA that this would work better and give them more ideas. If not, they’re going to lay the rules down and it could be a disaster.
“I don’t know.”
That’s the problem in a nutshell.
“There are a lot of things right now that we’re just guessing about,” said Waggoner. “Until this virus slows down and until people stop panicking, I don’t even know how to comment on any of this stuff.”
It’s because this is unique. Nothing like this ever has happened. So, there’s no point of reference for coaches.
That is Waggs’ dilemma.