Old Dominion is seeking a head coach as a current FBS program for the first time ever after Bobby Wilder's resignation on Monday, two days after completing his 11th season as head coach.
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"I have resigned as head coach of the ODU football program as I feel it's in the best interest for this program going forward," Wilder said in a statement. "I have poured my heart and soul into this university and our football program, but I feel this is the best decision for Old Dominion University. I plan to be an asset throughout the transition for the University."
Wilder led the rebirth of Old Dominion football in 2009, creating the Monarchs' program and leading their transition from FCS independent into the FBS. But three years after a 10-win season, Old Dominion won only one game in 2019 and is on the hunt for a new head coach.
It's the first football hire for athletics director Camden Wood, who arrived in Norfolk in 2010. Who might he target?
Minutes after Wilder's resignation was announced, Shane Beamer was mentioned as a potential candidate by anyone with internet access. The 42-year-old former Virginia Tech receiver and son of Frank Beamer, Shane Beamer is in his second season as associate head coach and tight ends coach at Oklahoma, the latest stop on a loaded résumé. In addition to Lincoln Riley, he's also coached under Kirby Smart at Georgia, his father in Blacksburg, Steve Spurrier at South Carolina, and Phillip Fulmer at Tennessee.
With a six-figure salary and likelihood of being among the least attractive openings this coaching carousel, it's highly unlikely Old Dominion can swipe a current FBS head coach. They could, however, swipe a current FCS head coach. James Madison's Curt Cignetti is the obvious (and home-run) FCS candidate. The 58-year-old son of former West Virginia head coach Frank Cignetti went 53-17 in six seasons at Division-II Indiana University of Pennsylvania before leading Elon to back-to-back playoff appearances in 2017 and 2018, their second- and third-ever playoff appearances. The issue: He's already making low-level FBS money and doesn't need an Old Dominion right now.
Other FCS names to watch: Princeton's Bob Surace, Eastern Kentucky's Mark Elder, and Wofford's Josh Conklin. Conklin lost to Kennesaw State in the first round of the FCS playoffs last weekend but has 17 wins his first two seasons, six years of FBS experience (Tennessee, FIU, Pittsburgh), and has recruited the region.
Virginia Tech running backs coach Zohn Burden is a Virginia Beach native who's spent his entire career in the Commonwealth, including two stints at ODU (2007-10, 2014-12). Justin Fuente and other Virginia Tech players and coaches have gushed over Burden's recruiting in the state. And Virginia native and former Cavaliers' assistant Mike Groh could make a shortlist. The current Philadelphia Eagles' offensive coordinator hasn't been in college since 2012 but has worked under several notable head coaches, including Doug Pederson, Nick Saban, and Charlie Strong.
Cincinnati offensive coordinator Marcus Freeman could also make a shortlist, though it's believed the 33-year-old former Ohio State linebacker can land a better job in the near future. Baylor's Jeff Nixon has never worked in Virginia but has coached and recruited in the northeast and has done extraordinary work rebuilding the Bears' program alongside Matt Rhule.
Other names to consider: Steve Addazio, Chris Ash, Brian Daboll, Nathaniel Hackett, Chris Beatty, and Patrick Graham.