The Virginia Tech Hokies play the Old Dominion Monarchs on Saturday for just the second time in school history. This is Tech’s first trip to Norfolk’s Foreman Field. The two in-state schools met last year for the first time with the Hokies winning 38-0.
If you think it’s odd the two schools have met only twice, that’s because ODU’s football program was inactive from 1942-2009. After being founded in 1930, the program shut down after the 1941 season due to poor attendance, losing and accreditation issues.
The Monarchs finally got their program active again in 2009 with Bobby Wilder as the head coach. ODU started out in the FCS as an independent, before moving into the Colonial Athletic Association in 2011. In their first season in 2009, the Monarchs finished an impressive 9-2. That was the best record ever for a first-year program in the modern era.
With all the realignment in college football, Old Dominion was being moved up to the FBS. In 2013, the Monarchs were an independent while they awaited their entrance into Conference USA. ODU’s first season in Conference USA was 2014 and it was Eastern Division champion in 2016. The Monarchs were bowl eligible in 2016, going to the Bahamas Bowl where they defeated Eastern Michigan 24-20.
Wilder is in his 10th season in charge of ODU and has an impressive 72-40 overall record. Under Wilder, the Monarchs are known for their high-scoring offense. Former quarterback Taylor Heinicke, a former CAA player of the year, is currently a backup quarterback for the Carolina Panthers behind Cam Newton. Heinicke spent two years with the Minnesota Vikings before spending time on New England’s practice squad and also time on Houston’s roster. He is the most well-known Monarch from the gridiron.
There is a Hokie connection in this game. VT running backs coach Zohn Burden was on Wilder’s first staff at ODU, from 2007-10. Burden was there two years before the program returned. He served as defensive backs coach, left for a year to coach receiver at Richmond before returning in 2012 to coach receivers and was also the passing game coordinator for three seasons. He left Norfolk for the Hokies in 2015.
The 2018 Old Dominion Monarchs aren’t very good. After getting blown out by Liberty 52-10 in the season opener, the Monarchs have lost the last two games to FIU and Charlotte.
This game should be a fun one from the Virginia Tech perspective as we should see plenty of young players continuing to get some valuable experience in live game action.