End of an era: Wilder stepping down at ODU

ODU Football

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Bobby Wilder, the only coach ODU football has known in the modern era of its football program, is stepping down after 13 years.

ODU Athletic Director Wood Selig made the announcement after Wilder delivered his resignation on Monday morning.

“I have resigned as head coach of the ODU football program as I feel it’s in the best interest for this program going forward,” Wilder said in a release from the university. “I have poured my heart and soul into this university and our football program, but I feel this is the best decision for Old Dominion University. I plan to be an asset throughout the transition for the University. 

The move comes after Wilder pledged Saturday he’d turn things around next season if given the chance to return.

ODU went 1-11 in 2019, losing 11 straight games after opening the season with a 24-21 win at home vs. Norfolk State to break in the new $67.5 million S.B. Ballard Stadium.

Selig said the decision doesn’t diminish Wilder’s years of dedication to the program and Hampton Roads community.

“Coach Wilder has represented the University and our football program with class and dignity since the day we announced his hiring,” said ODU President John Broderick.

Selig says the Old Dominion Athletic Foundation will buy out the last two years of Wilder’s contract for $600,000 and a national search is underway to find ODU’s next head coach.

Shane Beamer, the son of longtime Virginia Tech head coach Frank Beamer, is considered to be high on ODU’s radar, and there’s been chatter about Willie Taggert, who was just fired as head coach of Florida State.

Former Landstown High School coach and current University of Pittsburgh assistant coach Chris Beatty has also expressed interest.

Virginia Tech assistant Zohn Burden, a former ODU assistant, could also be in the running, though Selig says he won’t comment further until ODU’s in position to announce its next coach. Selig expects to have a new coach hired by Dec. 18, the first of two national signing periods.

VIDEO: A look back at how Bobby Wilder built a program from scratch

Wilder was hired in 2007 to restart ODU’s football program from scratch in 2007, leading a team of walk-ons and transfers to a 9-2 record in their inaugural season in 2009.

He compiled a 77-56 record in his 11 seasons, eventually leading the team into the Football Bowl Subdivision level in 2014.

But outside of a 2016 season that saw the Monarchs go 10-3 and win the Bahamas Bowl over Eastern Michigan, ODU has struggled to win in its new home of Conference USA. They’ve finished the last three seasons with a 10-26 record, going 5-19 in conference play.

Despite their struggles, the Monarchs did get a major upset over Virginia Tech in Norfolk in 2018, which Wilder called one of the biggest sports moments in Hampton Roads history.

This breaking article will be updated.

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