A little more from the cutting room floor from today’s dead-tree edition story on Old Dominion football’s return …
One thing mentioned in the story was coach Bobby Wilder’s decision to visit South Florida coach Jim Leavitt and Coastal Carolina coach David Bennett to find out how those veterans of start-up programs handled things.
Wilder’s answer was a lot longer – and more interesting – than what the story reflected.
“I basically asked them for their blueprints – what did you do, how did you do it?” Wilder said. “Both were very gracious, and they both basically opened the vault because I was asking them unique questions. There was no other coach in the country that was going to come interview them about what was it like [and asking] ‘Tell me what it was like.’
“I went down with 20 pages worth of questions and came back with 20 pages worth of answers. What I asked them was tell me everything you did right, but tell me everything you think you did wrong because I wanted to learn as much from their mistakes as what they did well.”
Their advice was well-heeded by Wilder, who secured a fair number of junior college players from California and Kansas to provide an older group that would permit some development among younger players.
“[The thing they’d do different would be] to go out and recruit some junior college players or transfers so tha their first year playing they could redshirt some of their class,” Wilder said. “Coastal Carolina had some problems the fifth year into their program. They made the playoffs, lost to Appalachian State, but graduated 36 seniors.”
The Chanticleers stepped back to 5-6 the next season.
With a lesson learned from someone else’s experience, Wilder opted to basically recruited three classes with two classes worth of money. FCS schools can offer 63 scholarships, but those can be fragmented to accommodate up to 85 players.
Old Dominion offered 21 scholarships last fall and another 28 this season.
Most importantly, some of his freshmen can actually redshirt, ensuring there isn’t a massive exodus from the program once 2013 arrives.