OXFORD – Mike Bianco’s Saturday included renovating his wife’s closet.
The Ole Miss baseball coach can’t remember another time he was available for do-it-yourself home projects on a March weekend.
Now his role on Camie Bianco’s to-do list will likely increase as SEC baseball teams sit idle.
“I’m getting put to work,” Mike Bianco said.
He and the Rebels had done plenty of work, winning 16-straight games and cracking the top 10 in the D1Baseball.com Top 25.
If the Rebels win their next game – No. 17 – they’ll tie a school record that has stood for 60 years.
The problem is no one knows when the next game will come. While the NCAA has canceled its baseball tournament and the College World Series the most recent SEC announcement says play is suspended until April 15 at which point officials will reevaluate the coronavirus outbreak and college athletics’ place in the world.
Conference USA, the American Athletic Conference and the Big 12 have already canceled their spring seasons.
The SEC has not made that official announcement, but it could come soon.
“We feel like spring is probably finished,” Ole Miss athletics director Keith Carter said. “We’re really starting to focus on the summer, really the fall and kind of what that looks like.”
Any plan to resume play became more difficult last Friday when the SEC said it would close its facilities and send athletes home.
“I don’t know how that can happen now that the players aren’t here and aren’t practicing when earlier that could have been,” Bianco said.
Telling his red-hot Rebels that the NCAA Tournament and College World Series had been canceled was no easy thing.
“It was very emotional, lots of tears by everybody. It was a sad scene.”
Initially the SEC announced it would play baseball games without fans, limiting attendance to essential staff, some family and media.
As conditions worsened last Thursday the league said play would be suspended until March 30, and teams would be allowed to remain on campus and practice during the interim. Friday it extended the date to April 15 and told schools to send players home.
Bianco’s message to players in their final team meeting included several important points but none that said get some swings or pitch from a mound in your hometowns.
“The biggest thing is for them to be safe, to be their loved ones, their parents and families,” Bianco said.
Departing instructions were for players who needed flight arrangements to see a staff member, for player who were under the guidance of the training staff to see Josh Porter for a plan during the break and for players to make sure they had their laptops and other supplies to be ready for the beginning of online classes next week.
The reason for the lockout is because there was no way to control the various environments and buildings that team members visit daily and keep germs and conditions from those places from affecting the locker room, Bianco said.
Bianco credited Carter for his handling of the situation.
“The biggest thing before you look at how do we start up again is how can we get this virus under control, not with just sports but more importantly with jobs, schools and everything,” Bianco said. “How do we get some normalcy back? When we get to that point it will be a little easier to figure out how we can start playing sports again.”