For years Liberty has argued for their inclusion at the highest level of college football. Really, since the school’s founding in 1971, that has always been the mission. Founder Jerry Falwell, Sr. always exclaimed how his dream for Liberty University was for it to compete at the highest levels in every area, including athletics.

In 2012, Liberty hired an outside agency to advise the school on how to best chart its path towards the Football Bowl Subdivision. The NCAA has long required schools to be accepted into a current FBS conference to join the division. Liberty flirted with several Group of Five conferences over the years, most notably the Sun Belt Conference, but ultimately was never extended an offer.

In February 2017, the school announced that the NCAA had granted its request to move from the FCS to the FBS as an independent. Liberty Athletic Director Ian McCaw recently told Sports Illustrated he believed there were two main reasons why Liberty’s football program was denied conference admittance into the likes of the Sun Belt and Conference USA.

“We don’t look like the public schools,” McCaw was quoted as saying to Sports Illustrated. “We are a private Christian university. The second part, our resources may have intimidated the conferences. Normally when you add membership, you try to add a school that’s in the middle or lower part of the conference. Some of them were worried we might be at the top.”

Liberty has facilities that would rival any Group of Five school in the country and, while smaller than most, is on par from a quality standpoint with several even at the Power Five level. The Flames’ are paying Hugh Freeze near the top of any G5 coach in the country. The athletic department’s motto is “Rise With Us”, and Liberty has seen unparalleled growth over the past few years.

A question that is always asked of Independent Liberty, is would you be willing to join a conference at the FBS level. Freeze was asked this question again in a press conference on Thursday.

“Notre Dame has slid seamlessly into the ACC this season,” Freeze was asked Thursday. “As a coach at an Independent school, what’s your opinion on independence?”

“We’ll accept an invitation to the ACC if (they) are issuing one,” Freeze replied. “We will take that. Then, I will have to talk to Ian (McCaw) to try to make sure (he) gives me five years to recruit ACC players. Don’t judge me too quick.”

Freeze will lead his No. 25 Liberty (6-0) team into the program’s biggest game in school history this Saturday at Virginia Tech (4-2). Despite being unbeaten and ranked, the Flames are more than two touchdown underdogs when they take on the Hokies in Blacksburg.

“I really do leave all those discussions up to (Ian) and our administration,” Freeze continued in his answer. “There are some really good Independent football schools. I have great respect for all of them. Look at what BYU and Army have done in recent years. So, it’s certainly possible to be competitive. I think BYU is probably one of the top 10 teams in the country this year. Notre Dame, obviously them being, I don’t know what you call it, but members of the ACC or semi-members whatever it is, obviously I think that’s advantageous for them too.”

Virginia Tech is one of three ACC teams on Liberty’s 2020 schedule this season. The Flames picked up their first ever win (in nine tries) over an ACC opponent earlier this season by knocking off Syracuse, 38-21. On Nov. 21, Liberty will face NC State in Raleigh. With a win Saturday, the Flames will be one of only two teams that have won at least two games against ACC teams and have not lost to one this season. The winner of Saturday’s game between Notre Dame and Clemson will be the other.

“As far as what’s best for Liberty, I’m going to leave that up to the administration and all those guys,” said Freeze. “We’ve got some good schedules coming up, I think it’s exciting for our kids.”