1-0 feels pretty good right? If you polled Liberty fans last week my expectation would be that the majority of them were predicting a win for LU. First game of the season, at home, in state opponent, tons of hype, all enough to push the Flames over the top in a close one. Even though I would have been in the minority, I could have been convinced by these arguments. I don’t think any rational fan would have predicted what went down in Williams Stadium against ODU though.
A weather delayed, tight first half gave way to an absolute beat down in the second 30 minutes as the Flames rolled to a 52-10 victory in their FBS debut. But you already knew all of that. If you didn’t, you probably wouldn’t be reading this column. I just had to take the opportunity to express my exuberance with Liberty’s opening weekend on the gridiron. It was awesome. What a win like that means for the program will have to be measured over months, even years, on the recruiting trail across the Commonwealth of Virginia. If Liberty could only pick one FBS game to win this year, ODU was the one, and they did so in dominating fashion. Coach Turner Gill, his staff, and of course the players all deserve a tremendous amount of praise for the performance.
My expectations haven’t changed, and neither should yours. The way in which the Flames won was unexpected, but this season is a grind. That grind begins in earnest this Saturday, when Liberty travels to West Point to play Army. I must admit, I love the way that sounds out loud. No matter Liberty’s record this season, fans should take absolute joy in the names on this schedule in 2018, and going forward. How cool is it to be able to tell your buddy at work, or your uncle at a family gathering, that your alma mater is facing off against some of the schools Liberty plays now? No offense to our former competition, but there’s a lot more prestige in regularly being on the field against the likes of Army, UVA, and BYU than VMI, Richmond, and Charleston Southern. At the office (or fire station), or church, when alumni from FBS State University are talking about their football weekend, Liberty fans can now truly be part of the club, not a B league side conversation.
Another thing I am loving, and you should too. We get to watch our opponents on television without having to use a laptop to access some bizarre sporting corner of the dark web. Without any intentional searching, I’ve watched Army and New Mexico State play games this season. Being able to do that is underrated, but really nice for the serious fan.
Liberty has been spoiled among FCS teams with television coverage over the years. Games have regularly been on the ESPN platforms, as well as regional networks like MASN. However, having that ESPN name now attached to every home game is also a pretty nice perk. Liberty’s new exclusive broadcast deal with ESPN makes that happen. If you can’t make it to Lynchburg for a home game, you know where to go to watch, with top notch production quality. Not to mention there’s a good chance this will lead to more ESPN television network broadcasts of Liberty games in the future. Big exposure there.
Week 1 was tons of fun. It would have been regardless of the outcome on the field, because as a fan, I have decided that this is going to be the greatest season ever. Because it is. This FBS thing is far too much fun for it not to be. The record on the field doesn’t matter (although we certainly hope to see more wins like Saturday). So I will repeat my mantra from last week. Don’t let expectations ruin this. Embrace the struggle, celebrate the moments of victory. Enjoy the best season ever.