HEAD COACH BOBBY WILDER
General thoughts on arrival in Nassau
“Flying in the kids see the island, the water… it was really exciting. I talked to some of our players before we left Old Dominion (this morning) and they were talking about how they weren’t able to sleep last night – it felt like the Night Before Christmas. You can see how excited they are to be here. It’s a special moment for us.”
How will your team balance work and play this week?
“It’s a business trip for us and every time we go on a business trip we try to go 1-0. We’ve traveled well this year. They understand the importance of this game, getting to 10 wins… there are only 18 teams in America right now, out of 129, with 10 wins, so that’s a goal. And the way we set the schedule up is similar to what they are used to at Old Dominion. We’ll do our work in the morning, we’ll practice, and they can enjoy the resort in the afternoon. We’ll do a couple of things at night, but not a lot, we want this to be a lifetime memory for them.”
After the 1-2 start, what happened that enabled ODU to win eight out of its last nine games?
“The Circle of Unity and Children for Humanity. That changed our entire season. It changed who we were as people. It changed our values, what we wanted to accomplish as a team beyond football in terms of what was happening in our country at that time with some social unrest, and then the election, and that really helped us grow and develop and one of the obvious reasons why we won eight of nine. We became closer as a team. We became more of a family. This is the closest team I’ve been a part of in 30 years of coaching, so that changed everything.”
You’ve already reached a milestone by making the first bowl appearance in program history. What would it mean to get a victory this week?
“Well, number one it’s history, the fact that we’re here, so it would get us to 1-0 in bowl games. It would get us to 10 wins, which would be a major accomplishment when you think about the fact that this is just our second season in FBS football in terms of being eligible to go to a bowl game. That would be a really remarkable accomplishment. We’ve already tied for the best record in Conference USA this year when we weren’t picked near the top at the start of the year. So this would be a really amazing accomplishment for these players, and it would also propel us into the 2017 season. We’re one of the youngest teams overall in the country. We have 100 players returning next year, so it would set the stage. We’re still growing as a program. We’re so young as an FBS program, so this would give us a lot of momentum heading into 2017.”
DAVID WASHINGTON, Sr., QB
What was your reaction when you heard that Old Dominion was invited to the Popeyes Bahamas Bowl?
“I was just extremely excited just to come to the Bahamas to begin with, and with it being the first bowl game (in ODU history), it was really special.”
Have you previously been to the Bahamas?
“I came to the Bahamas once, when I was about 10 years old.”
What are some of the things you are looking forward to seeing or doing while you are here?
“I’m not sure. I’m like a kid in a candy store.”
As a leader, what will you do this week to help the team balance fun with business?
“Just making sure everyone knows this is a business trip. And everyone already knows that, so it will be a pretty good balance of enjoying ourselves. Plus, we have a pretty tight schedule over here, so it wouldn’t be too difficult.”
When Old Dominion was sitting at 1-2, did you envision this team getting to a bowl game and having a chance at double-digit wins?
“I wanted to (do those things) and I felt like we could, but starting off 1-2 like that, it didn’t look good, but this team has so much resiliency and we just fought really hard. The fact that we have a chance (to reach 10 wins) just shows how much fight we have on this team.”
This team has already accomplished a great deal by reaching a bowl game. What would it mean to the program to actually win this game?
“It would mean so much for the program as a whole. Just getting here was a big accomplishment, but to win it would be that much better. We didn’t come here to lose.”
MILES FOX, So., DT
How many of the Monarchs have been to the Bahamas?
“None of the guys that I’ve talked to. I’ve actually been here – a couple of years ago, on a cruise. It’s beautiful. We couldn’t really do anything on the cruise. I want to go see what’s out here and have fun.”
What has the coaching staff told you about balancing fun with football this week?
“Ultimately, it’s a business trip. Have fun, but not too much fun. No late nights and focus on winning the game.”
What happened after the 1-2 start that helped this team win eight of its last nine games?
“He (Coach Wilder) really emphasized overcoming adversity – turning a setback into a comeback. We were really a hungry team. We were looked over. People looked down upon us. So, we wanted to prove people wrong.”