Old Dominion was presented with the opportunity of a lifetime for its football team, a chance to play college football powerhouse Alabama in 2015. Old Dominion football is on the rise, but I don’t think anyone saw Alabama knocking at the program’s door — especially since the football program just got restarted in 2009.
So something this huge for the football program has to be an easy answer, correct? Not so fast, my friend…
Alabama wanted to play Old Dominion in 2015 at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Not only would this be a huge step for the football program, but it would be a huge cash infusion for the Monarchs. The number that has been thrown around is $1.3 million.
Yes, Old Dominion was offered over a million dollars to play Alabama in 2015. This money could go towards a new football stadium that ODU is planning to have built by 2016 as they aim to have a brand-new stadium when they play Virginia Tech. This $1.3 million would go a long way toward being able to pay for this new stadium. That’s $1.3 million that they didn’t have in the budget when they were planning the new stadium.
So what are the downsides to playing the Crimson Tide, you ask? Well so far it sounds pretty good — but that will be the first year that the Monarchs will be bowl eligible. The more wins the Monarchs have, the better will be their chances of reaching a bowl game.
There are over 10 bowl games that don’t have a payout of over a million dollars, yet they passed on the opportunity to play Bama — on national television — to try and make a bowl game where they are unlikely to make a million dollars even if they win Conference USA.
Old Dominion is willing to chance it, in order to come out with a better record. That is the main reason they turned down Alabama — because they would almost certainly take a loss and thus may not make a bowl game because of it. Yet they could have made a home-and-home deal where Old Dominion comes to Tuscaloosa in 2015 and the Tide come to Norfolk in 2016 or 2017. It would be fair, bring in money for both parties, and build a relationship between the two.
The Monarchs also have the potential to be to be the powerhouse football school in Virginia. Think about it for a minute. Alabama wants to play them, which gives the school a lot of credit. There is the simple fact that Virginia is historically horrible at football. Virginia Tech is on the decline, and will soon lose its coach.
It is Old Dominion’s time. They could become the go-to school for football in Virginia with a new stadium hosting big-time games that build television momentum and draw bigger recruits to the school. By turning down Alabama, the Monarchs may have hurt themselves in this aspect when their name comes up in the mind of kids trying to decide where to play football.
Old Dominion has its foot in the door to become the school of choice for football prospects in the state of Virginia now that it is an FBS program. Turning down Alabama may come back to hurt them, if not in terms of recruiting then at least in terms of the athletic budget.
Next time a powerhouse football team comes knocking at your door, Monarchs, answer the door and accept it. Even if it ends in the blowout everyone would expect from a school like Alabama, any publicity is good publicity.