Thanks so much for all of you that reached out to us via social media and e-mail asking questions you have regarding Liberty’s announced move to FBS football. If you still have questions, feel free to send them over, and if we have enough we’ll do a follow-up post to this one.
@ASeaofRed question – it seems that this FBS move is an extremely expensive move. When and how will the money return because of this move?
— Brian Johnson (@jcrew4) February 17, 2017
It certainly is an expensive move with 22 additional scholarships on the men’s side alone, which doesn’t factor in the additional scholarships needed on the women’s side to comply with Title IX. Payouts to FCS schools and perhaps other FBS schools for scheduling purposes will be much higher. Another thing to consider, for the past several years Liberty has had arguably the best facilities in all of FCS. Suddenly, the Flames are competing at the FBS level, and while the facilities certainly are competitive, they are no longer the best in the country which could and will eventually lead to additional expenses from a facilities standpoint. As AD Ian McCaw mentioned as part of our Q&A series, Liberty will look for increased revenues from additional ticket sales, television deals, guarantees from FBS teams, and premium seating areas which he said are easiest to monetize. I also think LFSN is a huge, largely untapped avenue, for Liberty to see additional revenues. It’s not likely the Athletic Department will be making money for the next few years, but as McCaw said, this is a 50-year decision that will have long-term benefits on the University as a whole.
@ASeaofRed while I think Coach Gill referenced this what are the advantages to moving to FBS? I don’t see Rose or Orange Bowl anytime soon.
— Brian Johnson (@jcrew4) February 17, 2017
Again, this is a 50-year decision that will have long term benefits on the University as whole. For football specifically, recruiting will see a huge boost immediately from this move. Scheduling in the long term will be another added benefit. Replace Presbyterian and Gardner-Webb visiting Lynchburg with ODU, Army, BYU, etc., and that’s being conservative. ACC schools will likely be making trips to Lynchburg at some point. North Carolina, Miami (FL), and Wake Forest have all agreed to trips to Boone, North Carolina to face Appalachian State in the short time since the Mountaineers have joined the FBS ranks.
In the press conference last Thursday, President Falwell made it seem like it would happen as soon as the 2017 season is over. He also made it seem as though both a tower on the student side and making a horseshoe by putting stands behind the visitor’s end zone could happen simultaneously. After speaking with Athletic Director McCaw, it still seems this is very much a work in process, but I wouldn’t expect the horseshoe to happen immediately. McCaw said he was going to focus on premium seating areas and wasn’t as certain as to how many new seats were needed at this time. So, I wouldn’t be shocked if we hear later this off-season about expansion plans that includes a tower on the student side with its fair share of premium seating areas. There were plans already drawn up for the Phase 2 expansion, but McCaw said he hadn’t seen them yet. So, it may be that we are going to go back to the drawing board and starting from scratch.
@ASeaofRed any idea what conference Liberty shoots for if Big South passes? Maybe a non football one?
— Daniel Sloan (@DrsloanSloan) February 18, 2017
For the first time in what seems ever, Liberty needs the Big South. We need them for our other sports. If they elect to boot our other sports out of the conference, it will put that much more pressure on McCaw and staff. Independent is not something we want to do with all of the other sports who are desperate for conference affiliation for countless reasons. For backup plans, the Atlantic Sun comes to the top of the list, and the Southern would be right there as well. Could the CAA be willing to take us? Their all-sports conference and football league are set up as 2 distinct conferences.
Sean Cothran via e-mail – Who do you think will be the first FBS school to come play at Williams Stadium? Will Notre Dame or BYU agree to a home and home in the near future? How many years after 2019 will it take before Liberty is invited to its first bowl game? Would any other big name schools ever come here like VT, Clemson, Duke, UNC, or even Ohio State (because I’m from Ohio)?
So many questions in just one! First FBS school to play at Williams Stadium? Well, it has to happen in 2018 when the Flames are required to have a minimum of 3 FBS home games. UAB, Army, UMass, Coastal Carolina, and New Mexico State are teams that are likely at the top of AD McCaw’s call list, in addition to a few others. I don’t see Notre Dame agreeing to a home and home on the radar any time soon. It would be hard enough for the Flames to get one game with the Irish. BYU is a different story. They’re visiting East Carolina in 2017 and UMass in 2018 and 2019. I certainly expect them to be on our schedule soon, very soon, and it wouldn’t be a surprise for it to be a home and home or a 2-for-1 type deal. First bowl game? That’s nearly impossible to guess at this stage. We have no idea what the schedule will look like at this point. How long will it take for LU to win at least 5 FBS games in one season? To this point, the Flames haven’t beaten that many FBS teams in program history. I’m sure we’ll get some “big name schools” in time. As for the ones, you mentioned, who knows, but Miami (FL) did visit Appalachian State this past season.
This is a question I’m still trying to wrap my head around. Prior to the announcement, I felt 2017 would likely be Gill’s last unless the Flames made the FCS playoffs and won a game or two, at minimum. I think this move buys him time. How much time, I’m not sure yet. Of course, a losing record in 2017 should still be unacceptable even if all the major contributors redshirt. If he goes 6-5 or better in 2017, I think he will likely get one more year. What the expectations will be moving forward will be hard to gauge as it depends on the schedule.