After a lengthy hiatus, the ever popular MAILBAG returns and we hope to make it more frequent in the coming weeks and months! Continue to send any questions you may have over to us and we will be happy to answer them in our next feature. You can send them to us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, e-mail, or as a comment on the site.

It wouldn’t be a proper ASOR MailBag without having conference realignment questions. Liberty would join a Power 5 conference tomorrow if they offered, but the likelihood of that happening anytime soon is incredibly small. Could that change in 3-5 years? Of course. Look how far this athletic department has grown in the past 3-5 years. The only way to even begin to get those conferences attention is to continue to win conference championships and compete nationally and continue to see increases in athletic department revenue.

Those same things are true for Group of Five conferences, but the question becomes how interested would Liberty be to join one of those leagues? Those conferences are the American, Conference USA, MAC, Mountain West, and Sun Belt. The Mountain West is out of the picture due to geography, and I don’t think the Flames would be interested in the MAC. That leaves three G5 leagues as possible options.

The Flames have flirted with the SunBelt in the past, but that was when LU was trying to get to the FBS level. Would Liberty still be interested in joining that league? From a men’s basketball standpoint, the SunBelt is a better conference than the ASUN as a whole, but they are still a one bid league and the ceiling isn’t much higher than what Liberty has in the ASUN. From a football perspective, an argument could be made that being Independent is better long term for Liberty than joining the SunBelt.

Everything mentioned about the SunBelt is the same for Conference USA, just that the CUSA is slightly better in both hoops and football. The question still becomes would Liberty be interested in that conference as an argument could be made that the Flames are better suited in their current setup than in the CUSA.

The American though, Liberty would do backflips to join that conference. Keep winning, especially in football and men’s basketball, and help the revenues grow for the athletic department by joining the Flames Club and purchasing season tickets. Those are the primary metrics that conference administrators look at.

I’ve mentioned this in other articles, but I’m currently of the belief that Liberty is not very active in the transfer portal. The Flames have 12 of 13 scholarships used for next season, and head coach Ritchie McKay has said multiple times that he is happy with his current team and doesn’t envision adding anyone to the team that will come in ahead of the current players he expects to be part of the rotation. That could change, obviously, if someone comes along that makes perfect sense, but I think Liberty holds that one scholarship to use for the 2022 recruiting class.

The NCAA allows a maximum of 25 scholarship additions in one recruiting class, including transfers. Liberty’s current recruiting class that has joined the team for the spring with more coming this summer is up to 21. So, that leaves 4 spots available for scholarship additions for the 2021 class. Head coach Hugh Freeze has mentioned linebacker and wide receiver as the top priority to add additional depth prior to the season. So, there’s a chance another transfer or two could be added this summer.

I don’t think adding three more teams will have a material impact on Liberty’s financial situation in the ASUN, but adding Eastern Kentucky and Jacksonville State will greatly increase the top half of the conference in men’s basketball. EKU and JSU finished 3rd and 4th, respectively, in the Ohio Valley in men’s basketball this past season behind Belmont and Morehead State. The OVC finished the season as the 22nd best conference in the country compared to the ASUN which finished 26th. According to KenPom rankings, the Colonels and Gamecocks would have ranked as the 2nd and 4th best team in the conference with Bellarmine sitting in between them.

I haven’t heard of any specific ramifications to the athletic department due to COVID. The Flames are in a good financial situation, and, while the loss of revenue had an impact, I am unaware of any layoffs or significant expense reductions that have had a negative impact on the department.

Liberty Athletic Director Ian McCaw has always been a big proponent of increasing demand for tickets. At the Vines Center, there was literally zero demand for tickets because anyone could walk up at tip-off, or even afterwards, and get a ticket. Once the COVID restrictions are lifted, that will not be the case at Liberty Arena. It will cause demand for season tickets to greatly increase which is great for the athletic department. The Vines never sold out, but I’m willing to bet LA will sell out frequently making for an even better home court advantage. Was 4,000 the right number? That can be debated, maybe it should have been 4,500 or 5,000, but the Liberty Arena will be a great addition, and already has been, for the Flames.