From The Desk of Bobby Wilder: The 12th Man

September 08, 2009
By ODU Athletics
ODU Sports

Sept. 8, 2009

Dear Old Dominion Football Fans,

On behalf of our Coaches and players, I would like to thank you for a memorable first night. Words cannot describe how you made us feel running thru the tunnel for the first time, after our first touchdown, and after our first interception. Our players have talked about having goose bumps every time you stood as one and made our team play faster while our opponent played slower.

A long time college coach once told me that a great home crowd will give you the feeling that you are starting the game up 10-0. What he meant was the opponent will make so many mistakes due to the crowd noise you will gain a touchdown and a field goal from your crowd, if they are loud !!!

On Friday night at the Pep Rally I challenged our students to make a difference in this first game. I would say that causing seven penalties due to noise in making a difference !!! I told the students that every time our opponent got a penalty that they were responsible for, I would point to them. I was thrilled to point to the student section seven times as a salute for what they and the rest of our faithful had just caused to happen. Nothing illegal happened by our crowd. No rules of sportsmanship were broken. What we had was a true home field advantage.

I have coached in stadiums all over the country in my career. Penn State, Ohio State, Tennessee, and Nebraska to name a few. All of these facilities held 80,000 to 100,000 people. None of these stadiums were as loud as the only FCS school in the country to sell more season tickets then Old Dominion, the University of Montana.

What made Montana different was the fans were at their loudest when their opponent was on offense. They knew they could eliminate the offensive check system with noise. They were the 12th defender on the field by making the offense predictable. And they took great pleasure in every penalty the visiting team received. They knew that was their penalty !!!

Last Saturday night, you were responsible for seven penalties. You were responsible for 10 points. You did your part, and we did our part. It was a true team victory. The 11 players on the field, and the 12th man in the stands.

Thank you all for a job well done last Saturday and let's all plan on doing it again this Saturday. You are a very important part of our team !!!

- Coach Wilder