Old Dominion (Photo: Brian Knight/recruit757)
Here are some names to watch as Bobby Wilder ends his 13-year tenure at ODU
by Andy Hilton, recruit757
Old Dominion Football has been in good hands for 13 years. ODU restarted football, went 9-2 in their first season, joined the CAA, made it into the Division I FCS playoff, moved up to Conference USA and have packed the house at S.B. Ballard stadium for every game through the 2018 season.
Last season is where things started to go awry. A win over Virginia Tech was a mountainous highlight in a 4-8 season that was a low water mark at the time.
For a few years, Old Dominion tried to channel the spirit of Taylor Heinicke for continued success.
In 2011, Heinicke won the starting quarterback job at ODU and lit the world on fire. He was selected All-CAA 3rd team Offense and was the National Freshman Performer of the Year. The Monarchs finished the season ranked #10 in Division I FCS. Heinicke essentially put Old Dominion on the football map with thrilling wins like the September 2012 win over New Hampshire where Heinicke set a Division I passing yardage record, throwing for 730 yards and threw five touchdowns in a 64-61 thriller.
Heinicke had a four-year career at ODU where he passed for 14,959 yards, had a completion percentage of 67.7% and tossed 132 touchdown passes.
Now the program is going to dig deep for a successor coach who will rekindle the fire at Old Dominion. Attendance declined in 2019 as the Monarchs went 1-11. Their only win came against Division I FCS cross-town rival Norfolk State.
In Monday morning’s announcement of Wilder’s departure, Old Dominion athletic director Wood Selig made it clear that a national search for a new head coach would begin immediately and that ODU will use the assistance of a search firm. Selig also added that he expected the hire to take place in the next few weeks, before the December 18-20 early signing period for transfers and high school seniors.
Selig also mentioned that he expected the new hire to have FBS experience.
USA Today’s database of college coaches’ salaries listed Bobby Wilder at an annual salary of $661,581 which ranked him 100th in Division I FBS and 13th out of 14 teams in Conference USA. Some of the names listed will want much more than the salary dedicated to that position in 2019.
By comparison, Dabo Swinney of Clemson is the highest paid college football coach with an estimated annual income of over $9M in 2019. Virginia Tech head coach Justin Fuente and Virginia head coach Bronco Mendenhall are listed at $4M and $3.7M respectively. The highest paid Group of Five head coach is Memphis’ Mike Norvell at $2.66M. Old Dominion is a Group of Five program in Conference USA and the highest paid head coach in CUSA is North Texas head coach Seth Littrell at $1.865M.
Bryan Stinespring (ODU assistant coach) – Coach Stinespring is a Virginia native and has recruited the 757 for decades in his tenure at Virginia Tech and James Madison. Stinespring has family in the area. He is currently Old Dominion’s tight ends coach and run game coordinator. Coach Stinespring came to Old Dominion earlier this year after a coaching change at Maryland where he was on staff as an assistant coach. Maryland owed Stinespring compensation for the dismissal so he was able to take a position at ODU for much less than a normal coaches salary. He took the short term money in order to make a difference at Old Dominion. Will that move pay off now that he’s already on the inside? Age 56.
Zohn Burden (Virginia Tech running backs coach) – After Virginia Tech lost to Duke at home in September, it started to look like there could be big changes coming to the Hokie coaching staff. Burden’s job may be a lot more secure than it looked a couple of months ago, but it’s hard to believe that he’d turn down an opportunity to be a head coach. Coach Burden played his high school ball at Salem High School in Virginia Beach and has recruited the region as an assistant coach for Richmond, Old Dominion and Virginia Tech. Burden played his college ball at VMI. Age 35.
Chris Beatty (Pittsburgh wide receivers coach) – Beatty made his name first as the head coach of Landstown High School when Percy Harvin led the Eagles to several deep runs in the playoffs and a state championship. He leveraged that into a coaching position at Hampton University, then positions at Northern Illinois, West Virginia, Vanderbilt, Illinois, Wisconsin, Virginia and Pitt. Beatty has continued to recruit Virginia and the 757 area from any school he’s coached with. He’s a native of Northern Virginia and keeps plenty of Virginia connections. Age 46.
Shane Beamer (Oklahoma State assistant head coach for offense, tight ends and H-backs) – Beamer has the bloodline. The son of former Virginia Tech head coach Frank Beamer, Shane carved his own path as a grad assistant and assistant coach before working under his dad in the Virginia Tech program. He left Virginia Tech after the 2015 season and went off on his own again for more varied experience. He was a GA at Georgia Tech and Tennessee. He’s been an assistant coach at Mississippi State, South Carolina, Virginia Tech, Georgia and now Oklahoma. In 2014, he was the acting head coach for Virginia Tech’s Military Bowl game while his dad was watched from the press box, recuperating from throat surgery. While the younger Beamer has less experience in recruiting the 757 and the state, he has a big name and plenty of connections. Age 42.
Steve Addazio (newly released Boston College head coach) – On Saturday, Boston College defeated Pitt by a score 26-19 to finish the season bowl eligible at 6-6. On Sunday, after seven seasons at BC, Addazio was unceremoniously fired. In his tenure as the head football coach at Boston College, Addazio 44-44 overall and 22-34 in the ACC. Addazio has nine years of head coaching experience at the BCS level (Temple and Boston College) and has decades of college coaching experience dating back to 1985. While Addazio has the big game experience, he doesn’t have specific connections to Virginia or the 757. Then again, neither did Bobby Wilder before he started. Age 60.
Charlie Strong (newly released South Florida head coach) – the University of South Florida not only fired Charlie Strong over the weekend, they completely removed him from their website. Strong has been coaching since he was a grad assistant at Florida in 1983 and 84. All of his coaching positions since 1988. He has held assistant coaching gigs at Florida, Notre Dame and South Carolina. He was the head coach of the Gators for their 2004 appearance in the Peach Bowl. His first hiring as a fully fledged head coach came in 2010 when he signed on with Louisville. He was there for four seasons, at Texas for three seasons and at South Florida for three seasons. His overall record as a head coach is 74-53 with his best stretch coming in 2012-13 with Louisville when he guided the Cardinals to 11-2 and 12-1 seasons. He has no specific ties to Virginia. Age 59.
Jeff Scott (Clemson co-offensive coordinator) – Coach Scott is in a great position as an assistant coach and coordinator at one of the top college football programs in the country. Would he want to leave to be a head coach at a Group of Five school? He’s had an 11-year stint at Clemson. Along with Associate Head Coach Brent Venables, Scott has recruited here in Virginia and in the 757 for Clemson. He had a hand in successfully bringing Sheridan Jones (Maury) and Jordan Williams (Cox) to the school. Coach Scott has coached more than ten wide receivers who have made it to the NFL. He has roots in Florida and got his start in coaching as the head coach of Blythewood (SC) High School as their head coach at the age of 25. In his first season there, he led that team to a state championship win. Age 38.
Chris Scott (Oscar Smith High School Head Coach) – It would be unusual for a high school head coach to make the leap to a Division I FBS head coach without any college coaching experience. Coach Scott has had over a decade of head coaching success at Ocean Lakes, Bishop Sullivan and now Oscar Smith. His overall record as a high school head coach is 116-22. He’s been the head coach of the Tigers for the 2019 season. While Scott has plenty of name recognition in the 757, he also draws some criticism from high school football fans who believe that he recruits players into the programs that he coaches. Age 40 later this month.
– Andy Hilton