Conference realignment remains on the forefront across the national landscape of college athletics. Texas and Oklahoma began the domino effect with they announced this summer they were headed to the SEC. This has been followed by the Big 12 adding BYU, Houston, Cincinnati, and UCF. Most recently, the AAC was rumored to be strongly pursuing four members of the Mountain West – Boise State, Colorado State, Air Force, San Diego State – all of whom have turned the AAC down to remain where they are.
To discuss all of this, Brett McMurphy of Action Network joined ASOR for an exclusive interview. He wrote an article on Friday to discuss all the updates, and our interview centered around Liberty and its possibilities in this round of realignment.
He discussed several ideas including how sustainable being an Independent is moving forward for the Flames, the next moves for the AAC, Conference USA, and the Sun Belt, the main factors for adding a school to a conference, and much more.
“UAB is likely going to be (the AAC’s) top target,” McMurphy said. “They won’t add only one, they will definitely add at least two and probably four. Pick any schools from C-USA and SunBelt and then they have to pull someone. That’s where Liberty will have its best shot to make either the SunBelt or C-USA.”
Of course, Liberty will face UAB and the AAC’s rumored top target Saturday night in Birmingham, Alabama. The Blazers will open their brand new $200 million Protective Stadium Saturday night on CBS Sports Network against the Flames. Certainly, conference officials will have their eyes on that game.
The Flames have seen a tremendous rise over the past couple of years, particularly on the football side, under head coach Hugh Freeze. Liberty has made two consecutive Cure Bowl appearances in their first two seasons of being eligible to compete for a bowl game. The Flames had a remarkable 2020 season, finishing with a 10-1 mark following wins over ACC opponents Syracuse and Virginia Tech and defeating previously unbeaten Coastal Carolina in the 2020 Cure Bowl.
“One of the concerns about Liberty is Hugh Freeze,” McMurphy explained. “That’s actually a compliment, but the way they look at it, is everyone knows what Liberty is able to do with Hugh Freeze. No one envisions Hugh Freeze ending his career with Liberty. When Hugh Freeze leaves Liberty, is there going to be a substantial drop in the football program?”
Check out the full interview with Brett McMurphy below.