There isn’t enough time in the day to name all of the accolades that the Old Dominion University football team was able to achieve this season. 79 touchdowns, 587 points and 7,127 yards are only a few of the CAA Single-Season records that the Monarchs accumulated throughout their historic season. In their fourth season, the Monarchs went 11-2, 7-1 in the CAA winning the conference championship. Coach Bobby Wilder, who is 38-10 in four seasons as the Monarchs head coach, recently won the American Football Monthly FCS Coach of the Year Award.
Coach Wilder has led six players to All-American status; Taylor Heinicke, Nick Mayers, Chris Burnette, Craig Wilkins, Johnathan Plisco and Jack Lowney. Coach Wilder said, “This is a tremendous honor to win this award from a highly respected publication like American Football Monthly. I accept this award on behalf of Old Dominion University, our students, and everyone associated with our program that gave a great effort this year during our 11-2 season,” Wilder said.
“We truly are a football family that understands the priorities and values of our great institution. I could not be more proud to represent ODU and our football program.” Wilder has become the face of the Monarch football community and continues to create a positive, winning atmosphere in Norfolk.
In a time of transition, coach Wilder said that the theme for the 2013 Monarchs team is to “Raise the Bar.” Wilder then went in depth to say that, “What I mean by raise the bar, is I need to become a better coach, our assistant coaches need to improve, and we started Monday morning on Jan. 15th at 5:30 a.m.” Wilder praised the effort of his players saying that he has a bunch of players that are trying to raise the bar. The main focus for Wilder and his staff will be maintaining the high level of play that brought in the barrage of accolades this past season. No one will forget the thrilling 64-61 win over New Hampshire where Taylor Heinicke threw for 730 yards, or the exciting FCS quarterfinals playoff game versus Georgia Southern where the Monarchs and Eagles dueled it out. This offensive efficiency all comes from coach Wilder; his system enables his quarterback to have multiple options on each play.
The road the Monarchs are headed down seems bright, although there may be some bumps along the way. Coach Wilder hinted at Monarch fans possibly getting an expanded stadium in the near future. “What’s taking place is our campus leadership, and they’re working on the campus-wide master plan which will involve all facets of the campus, and the S.B. Ballard stadium is part of that master plan, and hopefully we’ll know in the near future what the recommendation will be for stadium expansion; there is definitely going to be a bigger stadium in the near future,” Wilder said.
A tough task lies ahead as the Monarchs will have to replace 19 seniors from the Monarchs 2012 team. “It’s going to be a major challenge to replace the leap of faith group, those 19 seniors that started the program at Old Dominion. You look at players like Craig Wilkins, who was a four year captain, and as far as I’ve been able to tell, is the only four year captain in the history of college football, which is pretty amazing,” Wilder said.
When you meet a man like Bobby Wilder, just take a moment and listen, because your life might just be changed. Over the past four years and counting, the Old Dominion Monarchs have listened, and have blossomed in to an elite program.
By: Mitchell Brown