ODU’s Bobby Wilder sees Saturday’s season finale as 2020 stepping stone, not his last game

Head coach Bobby Wilder of the Old Dominion Monarchs. (Photo by Ryan M. Kelly/Getty Images)

NORFOLK, Va. – One year ago, Old Dominion’s last regular season game was a football finale – as the Monarchs played their final game at Foreman Field. Saturday, when ODU hosts Charlotte in its 2019 regular season finale at S.B. Ballard Stadium – it could be the end for a different reason.

The Monarchs enter Saturday’s contest mired in a 10-game losing streak – the longest in program history. ODU (1-and-10) has not defeated a Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) opponent all year, as its only victory came vs. Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) Norfolk State August 31st.

Head coach Bobby Wilder is 77-and-55 in 11 seasons as Old Dominion head coach. After leading the program to its first ever bowl victory during a 10-win season in 2016, the Monarchs have struggled to 5-and-7 (2017), 4-and-8 (2018) and 1-and-10 (2019) campaigns since. ODU has lost 25 of its last 32 games played against FBS teams.

Monday, in advance of Saturday’s home finale, News 3 Sports Director Adam Winkler asked Wilder, who is under contract through 2021, if he’s given any thought to Saturday being his final game as ODU’s head football coach.

“No, I’m not thinking like that at all,” Wilder said. “I’m thinking like that’s the stepping stone to continue to build for what is going to be a great football team in 2020.”

Bobby Wilder, ODU football

When asked why he’s the right person to lead the ODU program into the 2020 season and beyond, Wilder pointed to the rebuilding process launched after last year’s 4-and-8 campaign – when he dismissed four assistant coaches.

“The biggest thing Wood (Athletic Director Dr. Camden Wood Selig) and I talked about last year when I made the changes that needed to be made to the coaching staff to the strength staff and the roster is this may take us to year two of this reload for us to be as productive as we want it,” Wilder admitted. “The big thing that happened this year, to this point, is the quarterback situation just didn’t work out.”

True freshman Hayden Wolff has passed for 737 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions in three games since being inserted as the Monarchs’ starting quarterback November 2nd.

“Our defense is a top 50 defense in the country with almost everybody back,” Wilder added. “And now we’ve discovered the quarterback, we know who the quarterback is. I feel really good that this team, in 2020, with what we’ve shown to this point – with the youth, will be at least a bowl team. And if we’re healthy next year we’ll compete for the Conference USA championship.”

Earlier this month, Wilder told News 3 “it’s going to be 100 percent important that we perform well in these last two football games” to prove he and his coaches are the staff and the team that can win in the future. The Monarchs lost to Middle Tennessee State, 38-17 Saturday.

ODU hosts Charlotte (6-and-5) Saturday at 2 p.m.

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