March 9th Luncheon Speaker ODU Football Coach Bobby Wilder
When he was hired on February 13, 2007, Bobby Wilder’s goal was to “AIM HIGH” in everything he did in resurrecting the Old Dominion football team from a 69-year absence. After three years of orchestrating every piece of the puzzle, Wilder’s vision has become reality as he has built a program that has not only been the buzz of the Hampton Roads community, but has become the most successful start-up FCS program in history.
In 2013, the Monarchs began their transition to FBS and Conference USA, playing five FBS opponents, the first five in school history. ODU finished the season 8-4, completing its first ever unbeaten season at home going 6-0, and defeating Idaho 59-38 to deliver the programs first-ever victory over an FBS school. For the second-straight season, the ODU offense averaged more than 40 points a game, averaging 42.3 points per game which would have ranked seventh among FBS schools.
Leading into the 2014 season, ODU will play their first-ever Conference USA season and when the Monarchs host Eastern Michigan on Sept. 13, host the first-ever FBS home game in school history.
Wilder led the Monarchs to a school-record 11-2 record in 2012. Under Wilder’s tutelage, the Monarchs led the FCS in scoring offense, total offense and passing offense in 2012 as the Monarchs won the Colonial Athletic Association Championship in its final season in the FCS. In the always tough CAA, ODU defeated four ranked opponents and were ranked in the top-10 all season. ODU earned the No. 4 national seed in the FCS Playoffs, advanced to the quarterfinals and ranked No. 6 in the final The Sports Network and coaches polls. Old Dominion featured 10 student-athletes on the CAA All-Conference team including the Offensive Player of the Year in quarterback Taylor Heinicke. Heinicke’s honors continued to roll in, earning six All-America honors, as well as the Dudley Award for the top division I player in Virginia and the Walter Payton Award for the top player in the FCS. Top honors were not just awarded to Wilder’s players, as Wilder was named American Football Monthly Coach of the Year as well as CaptainU Coach of the Year.
The Monarchs also continued to be the hot ticket in town finishing fourth nationally in attendance with capacity crowds at all six home contests and extending its streak to 35 consecutive sellouts at Foreman Field at S.B. Ballard Stadium. With ODU’s upcoming move to the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) and Conference USA, Wilder has challenged the Monarchs to raise the bar. Wilder and the Monarchs added 35 student-athletes in their latest recruiting class including 24 that signed National Letters of Intent in February. In 2011, the Monarchs concluded the year at 10-3 overall and ranked No. 10 in both The Sports Network/Fathead.com and FCS Coaches Final Polls, the fastest climb to the top-10 of any start-up program. In just their first season of conference play in the Colonial Athletic Association, considered by many the toughest FCS conference in the nation, ODU went 6-2 against league opponents. Picked to finish 10th in the CAA Preseason Poll, ODU ended the year in a tie for second place in the CAA, a conference which sent five teams to the post-season. The Monarchs were among those five teams advancing to the FCS playoffs where they defeated MEAC Champions Norfolk State in first round action and advanced to the second round of the playoffs against Georgia Southern in one of the most thrilling games of the Division I Football Championships.
Source: ODU Bio