Bobby Wilder has enjoyed a successful tenure as head football coach of Old Dominion University, going 66-30 in his first eight seasons.

Now, the Monarchs are making history this week with their first trip to a Football Bowl Subdivision bowl game.

The Madison native and longtime University of Maine assistant coach and former Black Bears quarterback has guided the Monarchs to the tropics, as they will battle Eastern Michigan University on Friday in the Popeyes Bahamas Bowl.

Kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m., and the game will be televised by ESPN.

Wilder’s staff includes several assistants with UMaine connections, including offensive coordinator Brian Scott of Waterville, former Black Bears quarterback and quarterback coach Ron Whitcomb, ex-UMaine defensive coordinator and ODU defensive coordinator Rich Nagy and former UMaine linebacker and assistant coach and defensive line coach Jeff Comissiong.

ODU and Eastern Michigan have met twice over the last two seasons, with the Monarchs winning both games, 17-3 in 2004 and 38-34 last season.

“We are excited to learn our opponent will be Eastern Michigan for our first bowl game,” Wilder said in a report on ODU’s website recently. “We had two very competitive games with Eastern Michigan in 2014 and 2015. Both teams played good, clean, hard football. Both games were decided in the fourth quarter.”

The Monarchs of Conference USA are in their second full season playing at the FBS level, and compiled a 9-3 overall record and 7-1 mark in C-USA play, finishing second in the league’s East division behind Western Kentucky.

Wilder, a 1987 graduate of UMaine who led the Black Bears to a Yankee Conference championship as a senior, has also led ODU to two Football Championship Subdivision postseason appearances as a member of the Colonial Athletic Association before moving up to the FBS ranks.

The 1982 graduate of Madison High ranks sixth on UMaine’s all-time career passing list with 4,493 yards. He was a member of coach Jack Cosgrove’s staff for 17 seasons, including a stint as the associate head coach.

Wilder has been the head coach at ODU since the program started during the 2009 season.

The Monarchs arrived in Nassau, Bahamas, on Monday, and Wilder said in another report on the team’s website that his club is focused on getting its 10th victory of the season.

“It’s a business trip for us and every time we go on a business trip we try to go 1-0,” he said. “We’ve traveled well this year. They understand the importance of this game, getting to 10 wins.”

Wilder is also hoping the Bahamas Bowl can set the tone for the 2017 season.

“We’re so young as an FBS program, so this would give us a lot of momentum heading into 2017,” he said in the report.

Former Cony High head coach Scott played four years of football at UMaine, starting at quarterback in 1999.

Whitcomb left Orono as the program’s all-time leader in completions (755), total offense (8,801 yards) and touchdown passes (68).

Nagy coordinated Cosgrove’s defense at UMaine from 2001 to 2005 and was named FCS Defensive Coordinator of the Year in 2002.

Comissiong, a former UMaine linebacker, coached the Black Bears’ defensive ends for three seasons and also spent time on the staff at Boston College and at Bates College in Lewiston.

Ryan McLaughlin

BDN sports reporter Ryan McLaughlin grew up in Brewer and is a lifelong fan of the New England Patriots, Boston Red Sox, Boston Celtics and Boston Bruins. In "The Boston Blitz" he'll be sharing his perspective...