Following the departure of Hugh Freeze, Liberty Co-Defensive Coordinator and LB Coach Josh Aldridge has been named the interim head coach. The news was delivered to the team during a 6 p.m. meeting Monday night during which Freeze delivered his news of him heading to Auburn to the team.
“Really impressed with Josh,” said Liberty Director of Athletics Ian McCaw. “I think he’s going to serve us extremely well during this interim period and through the bowl game.”
As McCaw has turned his attention to the coaching search and finding the next head coach to lead the Liberty football program into the future, he has tasked Aldridge with guiding the team during the transition.
The Flames, who finished the regular season at 8-4 following three straight losses after being ranked in the top 20, are awaiting their bowl game destination. Final word on where the team will play will come by Sunday when all the pairings are announced.
“Our team is very excited about the bowl game,” McCaw said during a press conference on Tuesday. “We expect it being pre-Christmas. We believe it will be somewhere in the Southeast region so that will be very close for some of our players and their families to be able to attend. I think it’s narrowed down to a few options right now. We’re excited about that.”
It will be a fourth straight bowl game for the Flames. Liberty won the 2019 and 2020 Cure Bowl and the 2021 Lending Tree Bowl. Both of those games are likely options for the Flames this season, as are other bowl games in the southeast such as the Myrtle Beach Bowl and the Boca Raton Bowl.
“We’re 3-0 in bowl games,” said McCaw. “We want to go 4-0. We don’t have a championship game to play in like many schools do, so our bowl game is the championship for us. It’s something that our coaches, our staff, our student-athletes are excited about and looking forward to.”
Playing as an Independent, the Flames can’t compete for conference championships. The team has had incredible success in bowl games, knocking off Georgia Southern, a ranked Coastal Carolina, and Eastern Michigan in its first three bowl trips. Being able to compete for a conference championship will change beginning next season as Liberty enters Conference USA with a new head coach.
The logistics of who will be on the sidelines for Liberty during its 2022 bowl game is still unclear. Aldridge, as the interim head coach, is the logical choice to lead the preparation and game planning. Still, he could find another opportunity that makes sense for him to pursue in the coming days as he is not guaranteed a job with Liberty moving forward.
Once a new head coach is named, could it be that he would want to coach the team during the bowl game? Whether or not the Flames will have a full staff for the pending bowl game will also be something worth watching. Hugh Freeze indicated during his introductory press conference at Auburn on Tuesday that he could add members of the Liberty staff to his staff with the Tigers.
For now, it will be Josh Aldridge and the remaining assistants that lead the team during this time of uncertainty.
“I’ve got tremendous confidence in Coach Aldridge and the staff,” said McCaw, “that they will have the team well prepared for the bowl game.”