Bobby Wilder begins his 11th season in charge of the Old Dominion football program as the only coach in program history. Hired on February 13, 2007, Bobby Wilder's goal was to "AIM HIGH" in resurrecting the Old Dominion football team from a 69-year absence. After just eight seasons, Wilder's vision has become reality as he has built the most successful Division 1 start-up program in history.
"I consider it to be an honor and a privilege to be the head football coach at Old Dominion University. We have amazing support from our students, administration, and the '12th Monarch' that I know will guide our program in reaching goals."
Wilder and his staff’s inaugural season of play at the Football Championship Subdivision level went well beyond expectations, finishing with a 9-2 record. 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, who upgraded their schedule in 2010 in preparation for joining the CAA, played their way to a 8-3 mark. 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.
In 2011, the Monarchs finished with a record of 10-3 with a #10 ranking, the fastest climb to the top-10 of any start-up program. Defensive lineman Ronnie Cameron was named the CAA Defensive Player of the Year and QB Taylor Heinicke 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 finished third in voting for the Eddie Robinson National Coach of the Year Award.
Wilder led the Monarchs to a school-record 11-2 record in 2012. ODU led the FCS in scoring offense, total offense and passing offense as the Monarchs won the CAA Championship. ODU featured 10 All-Conference players and Taylor Heinicke won the Walter Payton Award for the top player in the FCS. In addition, Wilder was named American Football Monthly Coach of the Year as well as CaptainU Coach of the Year.
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.
The Monarchs made an immediate splash in their first season in Conference USA, defeating the defending Champions Rice in the first conference game. Wilder led ODU to a 6-6 overall record, winning three-straight games to end the season. The six wins in 2014 is tied for the seventh most for a first-year FBS member school in the last 20 years and the second most for a start-up program.
Taking his Monarchs into their second season in Conference USA, Wilder continued 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.
In 2016 Bobby Wilder and the the Monarchs set a new standard for success by becoming the fastest start-up FBS football program to win 10 games. With a 10-3 overall record, ODU traveled to the Bahamas to play and win their first ever Bowl contest; winning 24-20 over Eastern Michigan in the Popeye’s Bahamas Bowl. After 8 seasons, Wilder boasts of an overall record of 67-30, 2 NCAA playoff appearances, a Walter Peyton Award winner, and 54 straight home sell outs-every home game in ODU history.
Off the field, Coach Wilder is always making sure that the Monarchs are visible throughout the campus, the community and the state. In what has become an annual event, the team hosts a bone marrow registry drive in an attempt to help save lives nationwide. The Monarchs have also been active volunteering with Special Olympics, hosting youth clinics, and participating at reading days at many of the area's elementary and middle schools.