"Our goal is simple with our football program - develop future leaders of our country, strive to be Dean's List Students, & win championships. We have tremendous support from our students, administration, and the '12th Monarch' that I know will guide our program in reaching goals. I consider it to be an honor and a privilege to be the head football coach at Old Dominion University. I am grateful to our President, John Broderick (Co-Chair of the Head Coach Selection Committee), for this tremendous opportunity I have been given. I am also excited to work with Wood Selig, our Athletic Director. He has a remarkable vision for our athletic programs and our student-athletes. We have amazing support from our students, administration, and the "12th Monarch" that I know will guide our program in reaching goals."
- Coach Wilder
Wilder's "Aim High" philosophy helped the Monarchs to a 57-27 overall mark in seven years of play, leading ODU to a pair of FCS playoff appearances.
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. Now after his taking his Monarchs through their second season in Conference USA, Wilder continues to build the program as the 2015 Monarchs were one of the youngest teams in the country.
With just 10 seniors, the fourth fewest in the country, Wilder led the Monarchs to a 5-7 season and just one win away from bowl eligibility. Running back Ray Lawry, just a sophomore, led Conference USA in rushing and became ODU's first 1,000 yard rusher and the Monarchs' all-time leading rusher after just 17 career games. Junior wide receiver Zach Pascal was on a torrid pace the last seven games of the season catching 54 passes for 846 yards and eight touchdowns to earn Conference USA second-team honors. Former walk-on linebacker TJ Ricks continued his improvement leading Conference USA with 123 tackles and receiving C-USA accolades. Ricks was one of several walk-ons and former walk-ons to earn playing time for the Monarchs. Senior safety Fellonte Misher was named Conference USA honorable mention with 99 tackles and league high four interceptions and also became ODU's second all-time leading tackler with 288 tackles.
Former ODU quarterback Taylor Heinicke became the first former Monarch to make an NFL roster out of training camp as he made the 53 man roster of the Minnesota Vikings. Heinicke completed 57-of-82 passes for 516 yards and two touchdowns in the preseason to solidify a roster spot. A host of former Monarchs made a splash in professional football as Larry Pinkard scored a 77-yard touchdown in the preseason with the Green Bay Packers and eventually was added to the practice squad of the Oakland Raiders. Antonio Vaughan signed a contract with the Arizona Rattler of the Arena Football League and Canadian Football League veterans Thomas DeMarco and Deron Mayo continued to have successful seasons. Mayo had a career-best 72 tackles to help Calgary to a spot in the Western Finals and DeMarco was the backup quarterback on an Ottawa team that made it to the Grey Cup Final.
ODU has continued to be a hot ticket, selling out all 48 home games in its seven year existence and hosting its first Power-Five foe in 2015, bringing in NC State.
The Monarchs made an immediate splash in their first season in Conference USA defeating the defending C-USA Champions Rice, in the first conference game in school history. Wilder led ODU to a 6-6 overall record and went 4-4 in league play, including winning three-straight games to end the season.
Quarterback Taylor Heinicke became the first Monarch to play in the prestigious East-West Shrine Game as he leaves ODU ranked in the top-five in Division I in passing yards, total offense, touchdown passes and total touchdowns.
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.
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.
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.
Bobby Wilder with Larry Coker - head coach of the 2001 National Champion Miami Hurricanes and current UTSA coach. Recent start-ups have visited ODU the last several years using the Monarch program as the model of how to be successful.
The 2011 season also brought a host of accolades for the program. In addition to 11 Monarchs being honored as All-CAA student-athletes, senior defensive lineman Ronnie Cameron was named the CAA Defensive Player of the Year. Cameron and punter Jonathan Plisco brought home numerous All-America honors and freshman quarterback Taylor Heinicke was the runner-up for The Sport Network's Jerry Rice Award as the FCS' top freshman and was honored as the College Football Performance Awards' National Performer of the Year. Additionally, Wilder was named College Sports Madness' National Coach of the Year and he finished third in voting for the Eddie Robinson National Coach of the Year. Among all the FCS programs, Old Dominion finished in the top-10 in total offense, scoring offense, and net punting, while concluding the 2011 campaign in the top-20 in passing offense, turnover margin, passing efficiency, and sacks as well. Plisco continued to shine as one the country's top punters ranking second in the nation and redshirt freshman Eriq Lewis tied for ninth among FCS defenders in interceptions. The Monarchs also continued to be the hot ticket in town finishing sixth nationally in attendance with capacity crowds at all seven home contests and extending its streak to 21 consecutive sellouts at Foreman Field at S.B. Ballard Stadium. The success of the 2011 campaign was due in large part to the foundation Wilder, the coaching staff, and the Monarchs laid in the second season of football in 2010.
The Monarchs, who upgraded their schedule in year two in preparation for joining the CAA, added a pair of ranked opponents in #12/13 William & Mary and #14/16 Cal Poly, and played their way to a 8-3 mark. Statistically speaking, the Monarchs finished their second season of gridiron action fourth in kickoff returns, ranked eighth in scoring offense, eighth in sacks allowed, and 15th in passing offense. Under Wilder's tutelage, punter Jonathan Plisco ranked second nationally in punting, quarterback Thomas DeMarco continued to rank among the top 10 in total offense, newcomer Colby Goodwyn ran his way to third nationally in punt returns, and Ronnie Cameron pushed his way into eighth overall among FCS defenders in tackles for loss. Wilder and his staff's inaugural season of play at the Football Championship Subdivision level went well beyond expectations. From the celebrated kickoff versus Chowan, to the heart pounding first FCS victory against Jacksonville, to ensuring a winning season at Savannah State, to extending the win-streak to six in the season finale at VMI, history was made every step of the way. The Monarchs concluded the 2009 season at 9-2 overall writing their way into history.
Bobby Wilder is a highly sought after motivational speaker for many of the Hampton Road's area business and community associations.
The Monarchs finished the year ranked in the top ten in five statistical categories as a team including second in sacks allowed, third in scoring offense, turnover margin, and net punting, and ninth in rushing offense. Individually, ODU had its first football All-Americans named in punter Jonathan Plisco and long snapper Dustin Phillips with Plisco leading the nation in punt yardage averaging 44.84 yards per contest. Quarterback Thomas DeMarco was also ranked in the top ten in scoring and was the second leading FCS signal caller in rushing. Wilder meanwhile received the Tom Fergusson Memorial Award at the 65th Norfolk Sports Club Jamboree named as the Metropolitan Person of the Year in Sports. In addition to his recruiting efforts, Wilder has also been an essential part in the planning and development of what are among the top football facilities in the country. The state-of-the-art $17 million Powhatan Sports Complex that houses the ODU football offices, athletic and strength training areas, locker rooms and two practice fields with artificial surface and the $24.8 million Foreman Field Football Complex, which includes the Ainslie Game Day Building, Astoturf GameDay Grass 3D field surface, scoreboard, sound system, field enclosure and a contiguous parking garage, are among the best the FCS has to offer. Since arriving in Norfolk, Wilder has hit the ground running and has not stopped in his quest to make Old Dominion a championship caliber program.
Both on and off the field, the Monarch head coach is always making sure that the Old Dominion football program is visible throughout the campus, the community and the state. He has honored over 300 speaking engagements to a variety of organizations, but his most important talks have come with high schools coaches throughout the state. Wilder and his staff have made it a point to build a fence around the Hampton Roads community and the state of Virginia, with plans of building a first rate program with players a stones throw from the ODU campus. Wilder has also been instrumental in getting his team active in the Hampton Roads Community. In what has become an annual event, the ODU Football Monarchs host a bone marrow registry drive and to date has helped register over 1000 members of the ODU student body, faculty/staff, and the Hampton Roads community to the registry in an attempt to help save lives from life-threatening diseases nationwide. The Monarchs have also been active volunteering with Special Olympics, hosting youth clinics, and participating at reading and career days at many of the area's elementary and middle schools.
Prior to his arrival at ODU, Wilder served on the Maine staff for the past 17 years and was promoted to assistant head coach and offensive coordinator in 2000 before moving to associate head coach in 2001. As coordinator, Wilder has orchestrated a balanced attack. The Black Bears averaged 29.1 points per game in 2004, and scored 29 or more in seven of 11 games. Wilder helped tutor running back Marcus Williams, who rushed for 1,077 yards during his senior season, which moved him into first place in school history for career rushing yards. Maine also threw the ball a lot during the campaign as eight different receivers each had double-digit receptions. Ron Whitcomb was at the head of the passing attack as his completions (213) and attempts (350) were the fourth most in a single season since 1950. His 22 touchdown tosses were tied for third most since 1950. Overall, the offense averaged an impressive 5.2 yards per play. Wilder was named the Assistant Coach of the Year by the Gridiron Club of Greater Boston in 2004, which is presented annually to the top assistant coach in New England. In 2003, the Black Bears had over 2,000 yards rushing and passing with 4,142 total yards. The ground game was anchored by Williams and the passing game was in the hands of then-freshman Ron Whitcomb, who was named the Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Year as he posted 2,428 yards - the fifth most in a season at Maine. The 2002 Black Bears finished the season with 4,702 yards in total offense, the most since a school-record 4,861 yards in 1989. In 2001, for the first time in school history, the offense boasted a 2,000-yard passer in Jake Eaton, a 1,000-yard rusher in Royston English, and a 1,000-yard receiver in Stefan Gomes. Prior to moving to the coordinator post, Wilder served as quarterbacks coach during one of the most explosive eras in Maine history for Black Bear quarterbacks. Wilder guided four-year starter Mickey Fein to 17 University marks, including the two highest season totals for touchdown passes. Fein ended his career as Maine's second all-time leading passer.
Bobby Wilder and his team are active in giving back to the community. Recent events the Monarchs have participated in include the annual Bone Marrow Registry, work with Special Olympics and The Make-A-Wish Foundation, as well hosting clinics for Hampton Roads area youth.
In 2000, Wilder's first full season as offensive coordinator, the Black Bears ranked third in the Atlantic 10 with 29.0 points per game. The rushing game increased its output by 41 yards per game from the previous season and Eaton garnered All-New England honors. Two wide receivers from that team, Dwayne Wilmot and Phil McGeoghan, signed pro contracts and were in NFL camps in 2001. In 2002, Maine tight end Chad Hayes signed with the Kansas City Chiefs and then played briefly with the Cincinnati Bengals. A 1987 graduate of Maine with a degree in physical education, Wilder captained the Black Bears to the Yankee Conference Championship his senior year. An All-New England quarterback in 1985, he left Maine as the school's all-time leading passer with 4,493 yards, and is currently sixth behind Mike Buck, Emilio Colon, Fein, Eaton and Whitcomb on the career passing list. Wilder coached four of those former players and played with the fifth. A 1982 graduate of Madison High School in Madison, Maine, Wilder was a highly recruited quarterback his senior year. He opted to attend Maine and in his sophomore year and led the Black Bears to their first of five consecutive winning seasons. Upon graduation, Wilder served as a graduate assistant coach for two seasons under Jack Bicknell at Boston College, where he earned his master's degree in educational administration in 1990. Wilder and his wife, Pam, live in Norfolk with their sons, Derek (15) and Drew (10).
Bobby Wilder and his family, son Drew (14), wife Pam, and son Derek (18).
A 1987 graduate of Maine with a degree in physical education, Wilder captained the Black Bears to the Yankee Conference Championship his senior year. An All-New England quarterback in 1985, he left Maine as the school's all-time leading passer with 4,493 yards, and is currently sixth behind Mike Buck, Emilio Colon, Fein, Eaton and Whitcomb on the career passing list. Wilder coached four of those former players and played with the fifth. A 1982 graduate of Madison High School in Madison, Maine, Wilder was a highly recruited quarterback his senior year. He opted to attend Maine and in his sophomore year led the Black Bears to their first of five consecutive winning seasons. Upon graduation, Wilder served as a graduate assistant coach for two seasons under Jack Bicknell at Boston College, where he earned his master's degree in educational administration in 1990. Wilder and his wife, Pam, live in Norfolk with their sons, Derek (18) and Drew (14).