A potentially awkward situation for Old Dominion football and one of its players has turned into anything but. To the credit, it should be noted, of both sides.
In early December, Bobby Wilder stepped down as the head coach of the Old Dominion football team after 11 seasons. Wilder was the only head coach in the history of the Monarchs program.
Wilder’s son, ODU defensive end Derek Wilder, was “hurt and angry” over what some considered the forced resignation of his father. In December, after the coaching upheaval, the younger Wilder was granted a sixth season of eligibility he could use in 2020. Whether that additional year of eligibility would be as a part of Old Dominion football program or another remained up in the air.
A call from Wilder’s replacement, Ricky Rahne, to the man he replaced helped set the wheels in motion for the lineman to return to Monarchs this coming season. From the school’s official website:
He called me to ask me some questions about the program and the players and that was the first conversation that Ricky and I had about my son,” Wilder said. “He indicated that he wanted Derek to come back.
“I shared that with Derek and he met with Ricky his first week here. Derek really enjoyed talking to him and decided at that point he was coming back.
“He thinks a lot of Ricky and is excited about next season.”
Rahne said he told Derek that “I wanted him back, that I thought he could be a good leader for us.
“Obviously, he’s experienced a lot. He’s had to grow a lot throughout this process. I felt like this would be an opportunity for Derek to go out and play a little bit freer.
“I was excited when he got his sixth year and I am excited that he is coming back.
Because of injury, Wilder the player missed 21 of 24 games in the 2016-17 seasons. That made the decision by the NCAA to give him another season of eligibility a relative slamdunk.
In 2018, Wilder played in 10 games at linebacker. This past season, he moved up to the line and played in all 12 games for the first time in his career. Wilder started 10 of the contests at defensive end, and will be expected to keep that starting job heading into the 2020 campaign.