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Nov. 14, 2012

Monarch Blog

Wood Selig stood in the tunnel watching Old Dominion's Lady Monarchs play their home opener Tuesday night, laying waste to an overmatched USC Upstate, 77-46, in women's basketball.

The game was so in the bag with six minutes to go that he let something out of the bag: ODU has bid two to three times the minimum bid requirement in an effort to host each of the four rounds of the Football Championship Subdivision's playoff rounds, which begin two days after Thanksgiving.

Selig's hopes are that the Monarchs will receive a first-round bye in the 20-team tournament and at the very least host a second-round game at Foreman Field the weekend of Dec. 1. And if things break the Monarchs' way, he'd like to host right through the national semifinals.

"We learned last year that our fan base will support the playoffs," Selig said. "And if anything is a certainty, it's that your chances of winning playoff games increase if you're playing at home."

Then again, it seems the Monarchs in general just like hosting NCAA tournaments, regardless of which sport it is.

How else can you explain the pure nuttiness that is ODU's next four days, beginning on Thursday.

On Thursday night, ODU's men's soccer team will host Maryland Baltimore County at 7 at ODU's soccer complex. The Monarchs will be making their third consecutive appearance in the tournament and their ninth appearance in the last 11 years. And ODU has hosted an NCAA men's soccer tournament game in seven of the last eight years to boot.

Win Thursday and ODU will head to Chapel Hill, N.C., on Sunday to face the University of North Carolina. If Selig had it his way, ODU would host that game too.

On Friday, the NCAA Final Four in field hockey begins at the L.R. Hill Sports Complex - for those who haven't caught on yet, that's the Powhatan Sports Complex which has a new name - as North Carolina, Syracuse, Princeton and Maryland do battle. Old Dominion came up a game shy of making it to the Final Four and playing on its own field in the Final Four.

But there's always next year. No, really. Old Dominion will be hosting the NCAA Final Four in field hockey again next season, and it will be an even bigger affair. Next season, all three levels of play - Divisions I, II and III - will play their championships at ODU. Divisions II and III will play their semifinals at the National Training Center in Virginia Beach as a run up to the triple header of title games.

"We figure we won't be in the football playoff business this time next year as we transition to the FBS," Selig said. "So we won't completely burn ourselves out next year at this time.

"That's right, ODU's athletic director knows his cracker-jack staff is nearing burnout. It comes with the turf. But the reward ODU gains in national respect is the big payoff.

"Insanity is the word of the day," Selig said. "Yes, it may be a little insane, but it's good for national visibility for us to host events. The exposure for our facilities and our overall athletic department is the payoff.

"I really believe we are one of the best-kept secrets in college athletics."

This weekend will mark the fourth time ODU has hosted the Final Four in field hockey and next year will mark the fifth time. Had ODU made it to the semifinals - the Monarchs lost to top-seed and No.1-ranked North Carolina - it would have been easy to like ODU's chances. The last time the school hosted in 2000 they also won it all for a ninth time.

Come March, ODU will host the NCAA Regionals is women's basketball. It will mark the sixth time in 10 years that they've hosted some part of the women's tournament and the second time they've hosted a regional, having also done it in 2004.

Beyond the hosting of two NCAA tournament events this week, the ho-hum of a regular season continues to take place, if one can call ODU's wrestling team taking on Wisconsin Friday night at 7 and ODU's women's basketball team hosting VCU ho-hum. Almost forgot, there will be a field hockey game on Saturday as well when the USA National Team meets the Senior All-Stars at 3.

Then comes Sunday, when ODU's fate in the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs is revealed. ODU's football team will huddle at the Sheraton Waterside for the unveiling of the brackets. And when that's done, the Monarchs' staff will again go into overdrive to prepare for the inevitable: ODU hosting something having to do with an NCAA tournament.

"We want to give the nation something to think about and something to talk about," Selig said. "I also want Conference USA to continuously be reminded that they've added a very capable school in ODU."

Speaking of Conference USA, Selig reports that he has already received the Conference USA baseball schedule for the 2014 season. That's right, the 2014 season. And if you are wondering about the really big hitters in Conference USA, the Monarchs will go on the road to face Rice in 2014, but will be at home for a season-ending three-game set with East Carolina on May 15-17.

I'd tell you to mark your calendars, but does anybody really have a 2014 calendar handy?


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