Another edition of the ASOR Mailbag! Thank you for submitting your questions and continue to send them in 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. We had a ton of great questions this week, so let’s get right to it.
Is there even the possibility of a conference realignment with hearing about other colleges switching to a different conference?
— Derek VanDerVeer (@DVanderveer70) July 13, 2022
I’m assuming that you are asking if there’s a possibility that Liberty could move to a conference other than Conference USA amid the move made by UCLA and USC to the Big Ten. If that is your question, yes, I do believe there is a possibility that the Flames could move on from CUSA in the next 2-3 years if not sooner. Of course, that would require there to be additional moves by other conferences, which is what has been rumored since the Big Ten added the two California schools.
The conference realignment rumor mill has been turning at unprecedented levels in recent weeks with some predicting very little additional moves all the way to college sports being completely overhauled. The reality is likely somewhere in the middle. Like we saw last year when Texas and Oklahoma made the switch to the SEC, other schools and conferences will make reactive moves, it is just a matter of who and when. Ultimately, it could trickle down to all levels of the FBS, including Liberty and Conference USA. For now, we just have to wait and see what the next domino to fall will be.
Do we have any scholarships left to offer for this coming season for football? If so would you expect us to look to the portal or give walkons a scholarship? Side comment, it seems like there are a ton of walk-on freshman on the roster this year
— 🔥🔥 (@bmoregoat98) July 14, 2022
Tracking Liberty’s football scholarship chart is this time of the transfer portal and COVID shirts is nearly a full time job. In our most recent update, we had Liberty with a fully committed list of scholarship players for the 2022 season, but since that time the Flames have added a few additions to the roster. So, we were obviously off slightly. I don’t believe there are any scholarships available for this fall, but if there are any it is certainly a small amount like 1-3. Coach Freeze has frequently liked to hand out a couple of scholarships to walk-ons near the end of fall camp, so I would expect that he has held on to a couple for that reason.
A question from Instagram asks, “who will be starting QB?”
This has been our most popular question since the end of the 2021 football season, and we have answered it in just about every MAILBAG update over the past few months. So, feel free to go back and look at any of our previous answers, but I will answer it again here. My projection is that Charlie Brewer will be the week one starter against Southern Miss with a package for Kaidon Salter. From there, it depends on how the two quarterbacks fare in game action as well as how the team is playing. I believe there is a path for Brewer to remain the starter throughout the year, and I also think there is a path for Salter to take over as the full-time starter before the season is over.
How does Ian plan on beefing up our schedule with all the good matchups slowly being cancled?
— Flames Stan (@FlamesStan) July 14, 2022
Every time news trickles out about one of Liberty’s future football games getting canceled (like it did earlier this week with UCF), there is a good number of social media warriors that go into full freak out mode. I understand the frustration in losing some of these attractive games like UCF, Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina, but I also realize it is part of moving to Conference USA.
As I’ve mentioned before, there is so much that goes into these decisions on scheduling. The bottom line is that Liberty has a monumental task of having to move approximately eight games every year from 2023-2026 as well as several other games in later years with a relatively short window of time to make those changes. Additionally, if Liberty simply called up the schools they wished to drop from the schedule and asked out of the contracted game(s), the Flames would have to pay to get out of those contracts and many of those buyouts are seven figures. It would not be financially responsible for the athletic department to rack up an astronomical number to pay in buyouts in making these moves.
So, instead of doing that, Liberty is working with their future opponents as well as some of the new FBS schools (Sam Houston and Jacksonville State, for example), to move the game without there being a penalty for Liberty. This is attractive for all schools as a UCF, for example, doesn’t have to play Liberty who is much better than they were when the game was contracted and instead they get to play a new FBS team in Sam Houston. Sam Houston likes the move because they get an attractive game on their non-conference schedule, and it works for the Flames because Liberty doesn’t have to pay the large buyout. Win-win-win.
I also don’t think now is the time to panic about what the future non-conference schedules will look like. Athletic Director Ian McCaw has laid out his plan for what his plan is for the future non-conference schedule to be. He wants Liberty to play one regional Power Five, two regional/rival Group of Five opponents, and an FCS team every year. The 2023 and 2024 schedule may not fit this mold, but it is the plan moving forward. And the administration that is working on this is the same administration that was able to build out full 12 game schedules that were so attractive on short notice. I have full trust that they will also be able put together attractive non-conference schedules as the Flames move to Conference USA.