Liberty Flames football

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Liberty Flames Football
2019 Liberty Flames football team
Liberty Flames wordmark.svg
First season1973 (1973)
Athletic directorIan McCaw
Head coachHugh Freeze
1st season, 0–0 (–)
StadiumWilliams Stadium
(Capacity: 25,000)
Field surfaceAstroTurf
LocationLynchburg, Virginia
NCAA divisionDivision I FBS
ConferenceDivision I FBS Independents
All-time record250–203–4 (.551)
Conference titles8
RivalriesCoastal Carolina
ColorsBlue, White, and Red[1]
              
Fight songFan The Flames
MascotSparky
Marching bandThe Spirit of the Mountain
Websitewww.libertyflames.com

The Liberty Flames is the college football program representing Liberty University, located in Lynchburg, Virginia. The Flames currently compete in NCAA Division I FBS as an independent. The school announced it would start a transition to the top level of NCAA football, Division I FBS, in July 2017. The Flames became a provisional FBS member, playing as an independent, in 2018, and will become a full FBS member, including bowl eligibility, in 2019.[2]

History[edit]

Liberty Flames football in 2007

Danny Rocco era (2006–2011)[edit]

In 2007, the Flames captured their first Big South Conference Football championship with a commanding 31–0 victory over Gardner-Webb. The Flames capped off their second year under head coach Danny Rocco with an 8–3 record and an unblemished 4–0 Big South record to claim the title.[3][4]

Topping its 2007 performance, Liberty ran its unbeaten Big South streak to 11-straight games, finishing back-to-back conference championship seasons with a 30–10 victory over Gardner-Webb. The Flames finished with a 10–2 record on the year and finished the conference slate unbeaten at 5–0. The Flames to become the first team in Big South history to win five conference games in a season and joined Gardner-Webb as the only two teams to post consecutive unbeaten seasons. Liberty finished ranked 15th in the FCS Coaches Poll and 14th in the Sports Network Poll.[5][6][7]

Undefeated in Big South play for 2009, the Flames just needed to capture a win over Stony Brook in the season finale to secure a 3rd straight Big South Conference Championship. Stony Brook who had only lost one game in Big South play (a 30–27 overtime loss to Charleston Southern the previous week) for 2009 could claim half of the Big South Championship with a win over Liberty. The Seawolves didn't back down from the challenge and won the game 36–33 to share the 2009 Big South Championship with the Flames.[8]

Liberty again became conference co-champions again in 2010. They were looking to beat Stony Brook in the season finale to win the Big South Championship but they first had to beat rival Coastal Carolina. Coastal beat Liberty for the first time since 2006 then the Flames bounced back the next week to secure a win over Stony Brook and a share of the conference championship (three-way tie with Coastal Carolina and Stony Brook).

Turner Gill era (2012–2018)[edit]

Liberty became the conference co-champion for the third time in 2012. After starting off 2–0 in conference play, Liberty traveled to Coastal Carolina, where they lost to the Chanticleers 36–12, bringing their overall record to 3–5. Liberty would then play then ninth ranked Stony Brook, beating them 28–14, also extending their at home conference win streak which dates back to 2006. In order to win a share at the Big South title, they would have to beat the Virginia Military Institute Keydets. Liberty won the game 33–14, and won a share of the title along with Stony Brook and Coastal Carolina with a record of 6–5 (5–1 in conference play).

The 2013 Flames shared the conference championship for a second consecutive year in 2013. Liberty opened up conference play at home against Coastal Carolina, where they let a 19-point lead slip away in the second half as the Chanticleers rallied to win in double overtime, 55–52. The Flames would rebound with a shutout victory at Gardner-Webb to mark the first shutout in Turner Gill's eight seasons as a head coach. After victories at home over VMI and Presbyterian, the Flames captured a share of the Big South title with a 56–14 victory at Charleston Southern who has previously beaten Coastal Carolina. Liberty shared the title with Coastal Carolina, each with identical 4–1 conference marks, though Coastal Carolina received the automatic bid to the FCS playoffs.

Liberty became the conference co-champion for the third consecutive year in 2014. Liberty started Big South Conference play against Gardner-Webb with a 34–0 shutout victory. After three consecutive conference victories, the Flames fell at home to Charleston Southern, 38–36. The loss to Charleston Southern would be Liberty's only loss in Big South play. The Flames rebounded with a 15–14 win over rival Coastal Carolina (ranked No. 1 in the FCS polls at the time), and Liberty clinched a share of the Big South Conference championship. Liberty also earned its first ever FCS playoff berth in school history. Liberty defeated James Madison in the first round of the playoffs, 26–21, before losing to Villanova in the second round, 29–22.

Liberty earned a conference co-championship again in 2016, marking their eighth conference championship. They finished the season 6–5, 4–1 in Big South play to share the conference championship with Charleston Southern. Despite the conference title, the Flames were not invited to the FCS playoffs.

Hugh Freeze era (2019– )[edit]

Freeze was named as the program's ninth head coach on December 7, 2018.[9]

Conference affiliations[edit]

Liberty has been both independent and affiliated with one conference.[2]

Conference championships[edit]

Liberty has won eight Big South Conference championships, two outright and six shared.

Season Conference Coach Overall record Conference record
2007 Big South Conference Danny Rocco 8–3 4–0
2008 Big South Conference Danny Rocco 10–2 5–0
2009 Big South Conference Danny Rocco 8–3 5–1
2010 Big South Conference Danny Rocco 8–3 5–1
2012 Big South Conference Turner Gill 6–5 5–1
2013 Big South Conference Turner Gill 8–4 4–1
2014 Big South Conference Turner Gill 9–5 4–1
2016 Big South Conference Turner Gill 6–5 4–1

† Co-championship

Playoff appearances[edit]

Liberty has made one appearance in the I-AA/FCS playoffs since 1989, going 1–1.

Year Round Opponent Result
2014 First Round
Second Round
James Madison
Villanova
W 26–21
L 22–29

Head coaches[edit]

Liberty has had nine head coaches in program history.[citation needed]

No. Tenure Coach Record Pct.
1 1973 Lee Royer 3–3 .500
2 1974–1976 John Cartwright 14–13–1 .518
3 1977–1983 Tom Dowling 33–38–2 .466
4 1984–1988 Morgan Hout 20–29–1 .410
5 1989–1999 Sam Rutigliano 67–53 .558
6 2000–2005 Ken Karcher 21–46 .313
7 2006–2011 Danny Rocco 47–20 .701
8 2012–2018 Turner Gill 47–35 .573
9 2019– Hugh Freeze 0–0

Rivalries[edit]

Coastal Carolina[edit]

Series[citation needed] with Coastal Carolina to be renewed in 2023.[citation needed]

Series tied 7–7

  • 2003 – Coastal @ Liberty – W, 38–21 (First Meeting)
  • 2004 – Liberty @ Coastal – L, 33–6
  • 2005 – Coastal @ Liberty – L, 27–213OT
  • 2006 – Liberty @ Coastal – L, 38–26
  • 2007 – Coastal @ Liberty – W, 37–24
  • 2008 – Liberty @ Coastal – W, 43–38
  • 2009 – Coastal @ Liberty – W, 58–13
  • 2010 – Liberty @ Coastal – L, 45–31
  • 2011 – Coastal @ Liberty – W, 63–27
  • 2012 – Liberty @ Coastal – L, 36–12
  • 2013 – Coastal @ Liberty – L, 55–522OT
  • 2014 – Liberty @ Coastal – W, 15–14 (Coastal Carolina was ranked 1 in the FCS polls; 11–0)
  • 2015 – Coastal @ Liberty – W, 24–21 (Coastal Carolina's last year in the Big South; game televised on ESPNews)
  • 2016 – Liberty @ Coastal – L, 42–7 (Coastal was beginning Two-Year transition to the FBS level and played as an FCS Independent for the 2016 Season; Game televised on ESPNews)

Facilities[edit]

Liberty plays its home games at Williams Stadium which has a capacity of 25,000.

Liberty vs. In-State NCAA Division I schools[edit]

[when?]

School Record Percentage Streak First meeting Last meeting
Hampton 4–2 .667 Lost 2 1979 1998
James Madison 6–11 .353 Won 1 1981 2014
Norfolk State 4–2 .667 Won 2 1997 2018
Old Dominion 1–1 .500 Won 1 2013 2018
Richmond 0–2 .000 Lost 2 2013 2014
Virginia 0–1 .000 Lost 1 2018 2018
Virginia Tech 0–1 .000 Lost 1 2016 2016
VMI 10–3 .769 Won 8 1995 2013
William & Mary 0–4 .000 Lost 4 2004 2007

Liberty vs. FBS schools (1973-2017)[edit]

Year FBS opponent Result Opponent's conference Opponent's head coach Liberty's head coach
2017 Baylor W, 48–45 Big 12 Matt Rhule Turner Gill
2016 SMU L, 29–14 American (West) Chad Morris Turner Gill
2016 Virginia Tech L, 36–13 ACC Justin Fuente Turner Gill
2015 Georgia State W, 41–33 Sun Belt Trent Miles Turner Gill
2015 West Virginia L, 41–17 Big 12 Dana Holgorsen Turner Gill
2014 Appalachian State W, 55–48OT Sun Belt Scott Satterfield Turner Gill
2014 North Carolina L, 56–29 ACC Larry Fedora Turner Gill
2013 Old Dominion L, 21–17 Independent Bobby Wilder Turner Gill
2013 Kent State L, 17–10 MAC (East) Paul Haynes Turner Gill
2012 Wake Forest L, 20–17 ACC (Atlantic) Jim Grobe Turner Gill
2011 NC State L, 43–21 ACC (Atlantic) Tom O'Brien Danny Rocco
2010 Ball State W, 27–23 MAC (West) Stan Parrish Danny Rocco
2009 West Virginia L, 33–20 Big East Bill Stewart Danny Rocco
2007 Toledo L, 35–34 MAC (West) Tom Amstutz Danny Rocco
2006 Wake Forest L, 34–14 ACC (Atlantic) Jim Grobe Danny Rocco
2005 Connecticut L, 59–0 Big East Randy Edsall Ken Karcher
2004 Kent State L, 38–10 MAC (East) Doug Martin Ken Karcher
2003 Bowling Green L, 62–3 MAC (West) Gregg Brandon Ken Karcher
2003 Toledo L, 49–3 MAC (West) Tom Amstutz Ken Karcher
2002 Akron L, 49–21 MAC (East) Lee Owens Ken Karcher
2002 UCF L, 48–17 MAC (East) Mike Kruczek Ken Karcher
2001 South Florida L, 68–37 Independent Jim Leavitt Ken Karcher
2001 UCF L, 63–0 Independent Mike Kruczek Ken Karcher
1999 Marshall L, 63–3 MAC (East) Bob Pruett Sam Rutigliano
1992 Northern Illinois L, 27–21 Independent Charlie Sadler Sam Rutigliano
1989 Eastern Michigan W, 25–24 Mid-American Conference Jim Harkema Sam Rutigliano

Notable former players[edit]

Current coaching staff[edit]

Staff as of February 20, 2012.[10]

Name Title Coach
Hugh Freeze Head Coach Head Coach
Kent Austin Offensive Coordinator Quarterbacks
Scott Downing Special Teams Coordinator Tight Ends and Fullbacks
Mike Brown Assistant Coach Running Backs
Aaron Stamn Assistant Coach Offensive Lines
Kyle DeArmon Assistant Coach Wide Receivers
Robert Wimberly Defensive Coordinator Safeties
Vantz Singletary Co-Defensive Coordinator Defensive Line
Marshall Roberts Assistant Coach Cornerbacks
Josh Bookbinder Assistant Coach Linebackers
Bryant Lewellyn Assistant Coach Defensive Tackles
Paul Rutigliano Assistant Athletics Director For Football Administration Football Operations
Matt Bevins Director of High School Relations Football Operations
Brett Thiesen Assistant Director of Player Personnel/Pro Scout Liaison Football Operations
Dr. Ed Gomes Director of Spiritual Development Football Operations
Chris Dunfee Equipment Manager Football Operations
Danny Wenger Video Coordinator Football Operations
Barry Finke Senior Assistant Athletic Trainer Football Operations
Bill Gillespie Head Strength and Conditioning Coordinator Football Operations
Dave Williams Associate Strength and Conditioning Coordinator Football Operations

Future opponents[edit]

Announced schedules as of February 15, 2019.[11]

2019 2020 2021 2022 2023 2024 2025 2026 2027 2028 2029 2030 2031
vs Syracuse at Virginia Tech vs Campbell at Southern Miss vs Bowling Green vs Coastal Carolina vs Wake Forest at Wake Forest at Duke at Virginia Tech at Virginia Tech vs Virginia Tech at North Carolina
at Louisiana vs North Carolina A&T at Troy vs UAB at Coastal Carolina at Eastern Michigan vs Western Kentucky vs Duke vs Virginia vs North Carolina vs Virginia at Virginia
vs Buffalo at Western Kentucky vs Old Dominion at Wake Forest at Buffalo at Ball State vs Ball State at Middle Tennessee at Virginia Tech
vs Hampton vs Florida International at Syracuse vs Akron vs Eastern Michigan vs Marshall at Army vs Georgia Southern
vs New Mexico at Bowling Green at UAB at Old Dominion at Miami (OH) at North Carolina vs Miami (OH) vs Army
at New Mexico State vs Louisiana–Monroe vs Middle Tennessee at Florida International at Marshall at Massachusetts at Georgia Southern
vs Maine at Syracuse at Louisiana–Monroe vs Gardner–Webb vs Massachusetts vs Massachusetts
at Rutgers vs Southern Miss at North Texas vs BYU at Duke
at Massachusetts at Virginia vs Massachusetts at Massachusetts
at BYU vs Western Carolina at Ole Miss at Arkansas
at Virginia at NC State vs Louisiana vs Virginia Tech
vs New Mexico State vs Massachusetts vs Army vs New Mexico State

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Web Content Team | Web Policy | Liberty University". Liberty.edu. Retrieved March 31, 2016.
  2. ^ a b Sordelett, Damien (February 16, 2017). "LU to be FBS bowl eligible starting in 2019". The News & Advance. Archived from the original on February 18, 2017. Retrieved February 18, 2017.
  3. ^ "Football – News – LibertyFlames.com".
  4. ^ "Liberty vs. Gardner-Webb - Game Recap - November 17, 2007 - ESPN". ESPN.com.
  5. ^ "Football – News". Liberty Flames. 2008-11-24. Retrieved 2010-09-15.
  6. ^ [1] Archived September 18, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ The Sports Network. "Football Championship Subdivision". The Sports Network. Archived from the original on May 3, 2011. Retrieved 2010-09-15.
  8. ^ "BigSouthSports.com—Official Web Site of the Big South Conference". Bigsouthsports.com. Retrieved 2010-09-15.
  9. ^ Caron, Emily (December 7, 2018). "Liberty Hires Hugh Freeze". SI.com.
  10. ^ "Football 2012 Season Coaching Staff". libertyflames.com. Retrieved February 20, 2012.
  11. ^ "Liberty Flames Football Schedules and Future Schedules". fbschedules.com. Retrieved September 21, 2018.

External links[edit]