Old Dominion Monarchs

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Old Dominion coach Bobby Wilder signs contract extension through 2021

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Guiding a team to its first ever bowl game is impressive, but winning it on the first try? Chances are that gets a little extra love from a school’s administration.

Such is the case at Old Dominion, which announced on Friday that head coach Bobby Wilder had signed an extension with the program through the 2021 season. The deal, which reportedly runs around $650,000 a year, is a nice raise for the man responsible for the football team existing in the first place.

“I am excited and grateful to sign this contract as I enter my 11th year as the head coach of Old Dominion. We are focused on the process of improving as a program as we enter the 2017 season,” Wilder said in a statement. “I am very proud of all the players, coaches, staff, administrators, faculty and 12th Monarchs that have worked to achieve a 67-30 record in our eight years of football at ODU. We will work together to continue to bring value every day to the university as people, students and program.”

In addition to that impressive overall record in Norfolk, Wilder has spearheaded two major transitions at the school. The first came when he was hired to start the football program up back in 2007 and the second came in a relatively effortless transition to the FBS level back in 2013. The Monarchs have only finished below .500 once in program history and went 10-3 in 2016, capping the season off with a Bahamas Bowl victory over Eastern Michigan.

ODU is set to wrap up spring football next month and figures to be one of the Conference USA favorites in 2017 with the bulk of last year’s team returning.

Old Dominion hopes to “hit the ground running” on new stadium project

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Some fans of the Old Dominion football program may be getting a little impatient with the progress (or lack of) in the development of the football stadium, but Old Dominion athletic director Wood Selig says things are coming along nicely and progress will start to be seen soon enough.

“Once we get the architects engaged, we’ll figure out what $55 million will buy in 2019 dollars,” Selig said, according to The Virginian-Pilot. “Then we’ll have an idea for how much additional money needs to be raised to support the project.”

Old Dominion is planning on tearing down Foreman Field at the end of the 2018 season and rebuild it with modern seating and amenities. The $55 million project remained on the books in the Virginia budget in February, allowing the university to move ahead with their plans. The first step is finding an architect to take on the job.

Because Old Dominion’s football stadium is among the smallest in the nation and will remain so even after the rebuild and renovations, the entire project is expected to move fairly swiftly once the work actually begins. Old Dominion isn’t building a grand football palace, so any concerns over the lack of updates on the stadium should be calmed.

If nothing else, the concerns raised about the lack of updates on the stadium renovations may just mean Old Dominion has some eager fans excited about the future of the program.

Virginia budget keeps Old Dominion stadium expansion on the books

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Stadium renovation stories are flying all over the place these days, and Old Dominion is not going to be left out of the fun. A stadium renovation proposal made last June managed to stay a part of the Virginia House and Senate budget proposals, a sign everything continues to be on schedule for the university to move forward with its renovation plans.

“They have come to Richmond and made a good case,” Virginia Senator Frank Wagner said, according to The Virginian-Pilot. “This is not going to involve any student fee increases or any additional money. It’s fiscally prudent. Everything appears to be a go.”

The budgets are to be reviewed by the end of the month of February before the adjournment of the General Assembly.

The proposed plan is to tear down the existing football stadium and rebuild from scratch to increase the seating capacity to 22,130 (from 20,118). The plan can be done without raising student fees, which is a welcome move in a time when the cost of attending college is increasing.

The plan for Old Dominion is to tear down the stands currently residing at Foreman Field at the conclusion of the 2018 football season and rebuild modern seats in its place in time to open the 2019 season. The project is slated to cost about $55 million. This would be the first part of a grand master plan for stadium expansion, with a second phase to come that would cost a reported $95 million to expand the stadium as the program continues to grow.

Independents and Group of Five National Signing Day Recap: Irish bounce back, Memphis tops AAC

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Outside of the Power Five conferences, recruiting went about as expected in 2017.

Notre Dame continued to pound the national trail and landed a top 12 class full of players who will be expected to play early. BYU managed another impressive group that was one of the most diverse out there. The schools with a talent-rich backyard to draw on did well in the AAC.  Boise State was once again tops in the Mountain West and did better than a few peers in the region. And yes, Lane Kiffin earned that recruiting reputation by pulling in the best class of Conference USA.

Though there wasn’t much drama outside the top schools, there nevertheless was plenty of action for many programs on National Signing Day.

Top recruits (all rankings via 247Sports Composite): No. 67 overall Brock Wright (TE, Notre Dame), No. 154 overall Chaz Ah You (DB, BYU), Aisa Kelemete (DE, Boise State), Nick Robinson (TE, Memphis), Nicholas Sims (RB, Toledo)

Top classes: Notre Dame (No. 11 overall), Memphis (No. 58 overall), Boise State (No. 60 overall), BYU (No. 65 overall), Florida Atlantic (No. 71 overall), Toledo (No. 74 overall), Texas State (No. 87 overall)

Biggest storyline: Irish still land solid recruiting class

Despite the worst season in South Bend since Charlie Weis and a nearly brand new coaching staff, Notre Dame still managed to cobble together a top 12 class on Signing Day. Tight end Brock Wright was the highest rated player and should see early playing time but the number of quality offensive linemen was really evident in the group Brian Kelly signed. Will it be enough to help with a big turnaround? We’ll see.

Biggest surprise: Memphis runs away with things in the AAC but new coaches still fared well

Given all the turnover in the American this year, it should probably come as no surprise that the Tigers pulled the top recruiting class in the conference. That’s a testament to what Mike Norvell is building with the program and the fact that they don’t have to go far for players. Many of the same factors played a role in Scott Frost landing the second-best class at UCF. It was also pretty impressive what Luke Fickell did on the recruiting trail at Cincinnati and Charlie Strong did at USF given those two didn’t have a ton of time to get things lined up.

Don’t sleep on: Boise State, Colorado State

The Broncos were once again the class of the Mountain West on the recruiting trail and fended off several Pac-12 schools for prospects. That will put them firmly in the mix to win the league again in 2017 but don’t overlook another good job by Mike Bobo and staff at Colorado State in landing 17 three-star players.

We’ll see about: Everybody else

Shai McKenzie details restrictions Virginia Tech placed on transfer

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Right or wrong, but unsurprisingly, Shai McKenzie‘s departure from Blacksburg comes with some strings attached.

Nearly two weeks ago, McKenzie took to Twitter to announce his decision to transfer from Virginia Tech and continue his collegiate playing career elsewhere.  On the same social media site Monday, the running back revealed that his future elsewhere won’t include any ACC schools as well as none of the teams on the Hokies’ 2017 and 2018 non-conference schedules.

The latter group includes Notre Dame, West Virginia, East Carolina, Old Dominion, Delaware and William & Mary.

A four-star 2014 recruit, only one signee was rated higher than McKenzie in Tech’s class that year.

The Pennsylvania native’s career actually began with promise as he was second on the team in rushing as a true freshman when he went down with a torn ACL in the fifth game of the season.  At that time, McKenzie had 269 yards on the ground; in the two years since, he ran for a combined 126 yards.  His 2015 season was limited to two games because of the lingering effects of the ACL injury.