NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — His days as coach are over, but Old Dominion University officials are not happy after discovering their only head football coach, Bobby Wilder, may have secretly been in talks to join a conference rival.
It may have been three years ago, but a story that leaked out this week that Coach Wilder had serious talks about moving to Florida Atlantic has some folks disappointed, and others just plain angry.
It reportedly happened after the Monarchs finished their regular season back in 2016 and were preparing for the Bahamas Bowl.
An online piece Tuesday written by long time South Florida reporter Chuck King, told the story of how then FAU athletic director Pat Chun had extensive talks with Wilder about replacing the Owls head coach Charlie Partidge.
If so, Coach Wilder did not inform his boss, Dr. Wood Selig, the ODU athletic director.
Coach Wilder was a hot item back then, and Florida Atlantic had deep pockets and some excellent players coming back.
An offer from them would have been tough not to consider by a coach with only three years of FBS experience.
But things quickly changed when Alabama offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin decided he might want the FAU job after all.
Kiffin had been the head coach of the Oakland Raiders, the University of Tennessee, and Southern Cal. FAU President Dr. John Kelly and his board of visitors told their athletic director Kiffin was their man, and if there was an offer made to Coach Wilder, it was rescinded.
So why is this even a story?
Wouldn’t any of us be willing to move to Boca Raton for what at the time seemed to be a better job — and a possible $300,000 raise?
Well, at the same time Dr. Selig was convincing Monarchs supporters to ante up hundreds of thousands of dollars to give Coach Wilder a nice contract extension.
And while he stated today he doesn’t deny coaches the opportunity to have these discussions, he merely wants to know about it.
And he says if this story is true, he is disappointed that neither coach Wilder nor his agent Dennis Cordell informed him of their contact with Florida Atlantic. As was spelled out in their contract, Selig said.
Regardless of what may or may not have happened back in 2016, Wilder will forever be known as one of the most influential and perhaps beloved figures in Hampton Roads sports history.
And will be remembered as the architect of Old Dominion University Football.