Old Dominion fans have been extraordinarily generous in buying tickets and donating money to the school's football program, athletic director Wood Selig said.
But in the wake of ODU's 47-10 loss to Maryland, Selig said he's asking them for something else: time.
ODU is in the first of a two-year transition from the Football Championship Subdivision to the Football Bowl Subdivision. The Monarchs played their first FBS teams the last two weeks, losing by 14 at East Carolina in a relatively close game. The Maryland game wasn't close after midway through the second quarter.
"We shocked everyone with how successful we were right out of the block," Selig said of ODU's 38-10 FCS record. "That was great and helped propel us toward Conference USA and FBS football.
"But to expect that kind of success to continue with this transition is unrealistic.... What we're doing is more difficult than starting a program from scratch."
He said that's one reason the NCAA mandated a two-year transition. ODU joins Conference USA next season and likely won't be eligible for a bowl until 2015.
"Our university of opponents is now defined as the nation's top 125 schools," Selig said. "Before that, we could play down. We had options where we could play non-scholarship schools, Division II schools.
"Instead, in 11 out of 12 games (next year), we're going to be playing schools that have been recruiting at the FBS level for years. Even schools at the bottom of the top 125 are very good. We're going to get there, but it will take a little bit of time."
ODU plays five FBS and seven FCS schools this season.
Foreman Field claims top sellout streak in Va.
Thanks to a soft spot in Virginia Tech's schedule, ODU now claims the state's longest streak of sold-out home games.
ODU will sell out its 30th in a row Saturday in the home opener against Howard. And given that Foreman Field seats 20,068, it's a streak the school could continue for several years.
Virginia Tech had sold out 93 consecutive games at the 65,632-seat Lane Stadium until hosting Western Carolina on Saturday. The game drew 61,355.
ODU's Board of Visitors was recently briefed on a plan to build a new stadium on campus to replace Foreman Field that likely would open in 2017. The seating capacity is projected to be about 30,000. ODU officials feel there is enough ticket demand to fill 25,000 to 30,000 seats.
Monarchs take reps in mental-game prep
Quarterback Taylor Heinicke said his confidence wasn't shaken by his three-interception performance in the first half against Maryland, a game the Terrapins led 31-3.
"That's a really good defense," he said of Maryland. "They have an NFL defensive coordinator, and they were playing a defense we weren't expecting.
"You're going to have that type of game. I had three picks against Duquesne last season. It's one of those things you have to bounce back from."
He said the team had a closed-door meeting this week to lift spirits. Coach Bobby Wilder said confidence was shaken by the loss to Maryland, especially for ODU's young defense.
"I told them, "Guys we're 0-2, but look at the two opponents,' " he said. "East Carolina is arguably the best team in Conference USA. And we could have won that game."