Pios picked sixth: Waddle, Riggleman speak for Marietta College at OAC Media Day

JORDAN HOLLAND The Marietta Times Reigning Ohio Athletic Conference Coach of the Year Andy Waddle speaks at the 2018 OAC Media Day Thursday at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton. Waddle's Marietta College Pioneers were voted sixth in the coaches and media polls.

CANTON — Marietta College head football coach Andy Waddle admitted Thursday he has not been entirely truthful with his fellow Ohio Athletic Conference coaches, players and media members.

“The past few years I’ve come to these media days and said I was excited about the season,” Waddle said at the 2018 OAC Media Day at the Pro Football Hall of Fame. “And most of the time, I was lying.”

Many of Waddle’s first five seasons at Marietta began with more questions than answers, and resulted in four straight losing seasons. However, the Pioneers broke through last year with a 6-4 record, their first winning season since 2006. The success not only led to much more optimism around the program, but more respect from other teams and media members around the OAC. Marietta finished sixth in OAC Coaches Poll and Media Poll, the team’s highest preseason placement under Waddle’s direction.

For the first time in awhile, the program has more answers than question marks going into a season.

“I can say, honestly, this year I am excited,” said Waddle, who brought senior lineman Caleb Riggleman and senior quarterback Darrien Fields with him to Canton. “I’m excited for some of the things we have coming back to our football team, and I’m excited for some of the things that Marietta College is doing.”

Waddle praised some of the program’s new equipment, such as their brand new Riddell Speedflex helmets, and the new turf being put in at Don Drumm Stadium which is expected to be finished by the end of the week.

“I look across our campus and there’s consistently change and growth,” Waddle said. “It’s exciting to see all the bulldozers in the middle of campus.”

Of the sixth-place projection, Waddle said, “I don’t know where I saw people voting us. I know the respect level has continued to improve which is good. Hopefully we are better than what the polls project us at, but we’re going to have a lot of work in front of us before we get to that point.”

Fields, who set the MC single-season record with 21 touchdown passes last season, had a unique perspective on the preseason polls.

“I joked with coach Waddle earlier, I said ‘It’s all rat poison anyway,'” quipped Fields, who completed nearly 70 percent of his passes for 1,752 yards in 2017. “Whether they put us first (or) 10th, it doesn’t matter. You’ve got to go out on Saturday, Sept. 1, and play your game and win your game. Hopefully next year we’ll come back and be No. 1. That’s the goal, to be Mount Union’s standard. But right now, we’re just focused on playing the games in front of us. Polls don’t mean much.”

Riggleman, an All-OAC left tackle, answered a few questions from OAC commissioner Tim Gleason in front of the crowd. Riggleman, a graduate of Elkins High School in West Virginia, explained how he ended up at Marietta and talked about the workload of playing football and majoring in petroleum engineering.

He said football will be the main thing he remembers from his days as a Pioneer.

“Looking back, even on the last three years, (football) has been the best part,” Riggleman said. “I hope in 40 years when I look back, this is what I’ll remember.”

Taking first in both polls once again was defending Division III national champion Mount Union. The Purple Raiders received all 31 first-place votes in the Media Poll and nine of 10 first-place votes in the Coaches Poll (coaches aren’t allowed to vote for their own team in the poll.)

“We appreciate the respect,” said Mount Union head coach Vince Kehres. “I look forward to the competition that awaits us this season.”

John Carroll, which received the remaining first-place vote in the Coaches Poll, was second in both polls, while Ohio Northern was third. Heidelberg was picked fourth by the media and fifth by the coaches, while Baldwin Wallace was the opposite.

Otterbein followed Marietta in both polls at seventh. Rounding out the Media Poll was Muskingum (eighth), Capital (ninth) and Wilmington (10th). The Coaches Poll finished with Wilmington in eighth, Capital in ninth and Muskingum in 10th.

2018 Ohio Athletic Conference Media Day

Coaches Poll: 1. Mount Union, 81 points (9 first-place votes); 2. John Carroll, 73 (1); 3. Ohio Northern, 61; 4. Baldwin Wallace, 56; 5. Heidelberg, 49; 6. Marietta, 44; 7. Otterbein, 32; 8. Wilmington, 22; 9. Capital, 19; 10. Muskingum, 13

Media Poll: 1. Mount Union, 310 (31); 2. John Carroll, 274; 3. Ohio Northern, 223; 4. Heidelberg, 206; 5. Baldwin Wallace, 205; 6. Marietta 149; 7. Otterbein, 140; 8. Muskingum, 75; 9. Capital, 74; 10. Wilmington, 49