In 1971, Jerry Falwell, Sr. started Liberty University with a grand vision. He wanted to build a world class institution in Lynchburg, Virginia. A college that would compete with the best the world had to offer in all facets, including athletics.
“I had a vision that we would compare favorably with every thing Notre Dame, Brigham Young do so well with Mormon and Roman Catholic kids,” the late Falwell, Sr. said one of many times. “A world class institution.”
That was quite the goal, especially considering he was getting more than a 100-year late start on those two schools, but Jerry Sr. was always known to be a visionary. Many people laughed at him when he first started Liberty with those goals. They continued laughing for decades, even after his death. That dream would never be accomplished, many thought.
The 2020 Liberty football team is having a season to remember. The Flames have achieved a national Top 25 ranking in both major college football polls for the first time in school history following the program’s best ever start to a season at 8-0 after this past Saturday’s win over Western Carolina. Liberty is one of only three teams in all of college football that are currently 8-0. The others? Notre Dame and BYU.
“I love walking in the vision that he cast in 1971,” Liberty head football coach Hugh Freeze said of Jerry Falwell, Sr. “You just feel kind of very blessed and favored. My daughter takes care of keeping me updated on the social media world. She uses my account sometimes to keep up with things when I don’t really feel like I need to get on it. She showed me something, I guess it was Saturday, where it had a picture of three 8-0 teams and it was BYU, Notre Dame, and Liberty. Man, I just thought to myself, boy, I bet Jerry Sr is smiling.”
There have been many people who have aided in the building of the Liberty football program to help it get to this point, and Hugh Freeze is the latest benefactor. Under Freeze, in less than two years, has elevated the program to a higher level, at a quicker pace, than anyone could have imaged, except for maybe the late Falwell, Sr. From taking the team to its first ever bowl game where the Flames defeated Georgia Southern in the 2019 Cure Bowl, to the program’s first ever win over an ACC opponent, and to its first ever national ranking.
Earlier this week, Freeze talked about his lesson to the team this week is about Noah and building the Ark, and how much obedience and faith it took for Noah to build a boat in the desert for years while many others thought he was crazy.
“There’s probably been many people that probably felt the same way bout Jerry Sr’s vision,” Freeze said. “Thankfully, there have been some people, Jerry Jr and many others, that believed in it and the administration here. Are we ready to line up and beat Notre Dame? Probably not, but I’d like to try. Maybe we can play them in a bowl game or something, that would be awesome. It’s pretty neat for sure, to get this program closer to what Jerry Sr.’s original vision was.”