Huddle Time: ODU Has Plenty To Do Before It's Ready For Some Football
Sept. 11, 2007
Old Dominion University is dusting off its cleats and getting ready to do something it hasn't done since before World War II: play football. Though, to be honest, it doesn't really own any cleats to dust off.
"It is a complete building process," says Head Football Coach Bobby Wilder. "Our theme as a program is building from the ground up, and we're doing that in every facet you can imagine, from ordering office supplies to ordering equipment. We don't have any footballs right now; we don't have any helmets or shoulder pads, anything that you need for a program; all of that you've got to purchase."
More pressing than equipment matters are player concerns. NCAA rules limit not only the number of players a college team may have on its roster, but also the number of scholarships that can be given out in any particular year. When Wilder signs his first recruiting class on Feb. 6, 2008, it will contain no more than 30 players. On that same day, he will hold open tryouts on campus to find students to fill out the team and give him enough bodies to practice. After adding another 30 scholarship players the following February, Wilder's team will take the field with a roster filled with underclassmen and walk-ons.
Compensating for the team's lack of experience will be a spread offense and aggressive defense that Wilder hopes will blitz opponents from the first snap to the last. "We're going to do things that people will be excited about and run the style of program that kids are going to want to play in," he says. "A high school kid is going to look at the school and say, `I know Old Dominion; I know it's a good school, but they also have this 20,000-seat stadium [Foreman Field] that will be one of the nicest 1-AA facilities in the country.' Number two, we're building a state-of-the art football facility on 43rd and Powhatan [Powhatan Sports Complex] that will house first-class locker rooms, offices, weight room, training room, meeting rooms and two [adjacent] practice fields. We're going to have a lot of things that other programs don't have, and then on top of that, ours are going to be bigger and better. This vision we have for ODU football is phenomenal."
published in the Sept/Oct. issue of Hampton Roads Magazine