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.
Now that players can earn money from NIL rules, will Liberty ever sell player jerseys? I’m dying to get my hands on a Malik jersey!!
— Brandon Pyle (@bpyle02) July 21, 2021
Right now, as schools, athletes, businesses, and donors work their way through the new NIL rules, Liberty does not allow its athletes to sell any apparel with the Liberty mark. That could change as the weeks and months pass. Look no further than the University of North Carolina who recently announced it is launching the first ever group licensing program which allow all athletes to profit from NIL in conjunction with UNC’s official trademarks and logos.
Will the new NIL policy change fan fest or player appearances at special events this year?
— Football_Dad (@Jonathan_VMARK) July 21, 2021
Not that I have heard. It should provide even more opportunities for fans and players to engage while also allowing the athlete to make some money.
Do you think that with @CoachHughFreeze leading the Liberty football team, that there could be a chance for a CFP spot for the Flames, especially with a 12-team playoff likely coming in a few years?
— Matthew McMillen (@24andFCFfan) July 20, 2021
To put it simply, yes. With just a four team playoff, there was basically a 0% chance Liberty would ever get invited to the party. Now, with a 12-team playoff on the way, the door is now cracked open. The Flames will have to earn their way into the top 12 of the CFP rankings, and will have the ability to do so. Still, as a non-Power Five team, the margin for error is practically zero and there must be a schedule that is strong enough to warrant a top 12 ranking.
With the VT and BYU games next year, are there plans to add seating in the end zone where the LU logo is? Is the consideration to enclose the stadium by the scoreboard in future to make a full wrap around stadium?
— Brett Houlihan (@B_Houli) July 21, 2021
Liberty Athletic Director Ian McCaw has stated on multiple occasions this summer, that there are currently plans to do something with the berm area in the south end zone, possibly tiering it to make it more functional for spectator seating. This will allow the Flames to sell more than the 25,000 tickets that is the current capacity and could add a few thousand more. There have not been any further plans that have been discussed about additional seating in the north end zone where the scoreboard and Liberty Football Center is. The expansion and renovation of the LFC pretty much closed off that end of the stadium. As the football program continues to grow, there will be additional discussion, but a 25,000 seat stadium, with the likely addition of a few thousand ticketed seats on the berm, is plenty for where the Liberty program is at this point in its development. McCaw has always been a fan of creating an environment where there is a scarcity of tickets to create a large demand. Having a 40,000 seat stadium doesn’t accomplish that at this point. Let’s see the first sellout at the 25,000 capacity mark before we worry too much about expansion.
Is there a chance that Liberty joins Conference USA or the Sun Belt for sports but stays Independent for football? I’m asking hypothetically if you think Liberty would be interested in something like that.
— TurtlePower98 (@sstaedtler98) July 20, 2021
We also had a similar question posted on our Instagram story that asked, “Do you have any info about the possibility of Liberty football eventually joining a conference?”
As we all know, football drives the bus in realignment. Certainly, men’s basketball is a co-pilot, but football is the deciding factor. Any move Liberty makes in realignment will be made with all sports in mind, particularly football. To answer your question, I don’t see Conference USA or the Sun Belt inviting Liberty in all sports and not football, and I don’t think Liberty would make that move without also bringing the football program into the conference. I could see a scenario where Liberty pursues a conference that doesn’t sponsor football, like the Atlantic 10, and seeking membership there while keeping football Independent. I don’t think that move happens for a conference that sponsors football.
Liberty has had conversations with conferences in recent months, we even posted on our Rumor Mill recently about this topic. Continue with strong football seasons that flirt with the top 25 and men’s basketball seasons that continue to compete for and win conference championships, and conferences will continue to flirt with Liberty. It will be all about making the right move at the right time. Liberty’s brand has grown to a point where it is no longer in need of a conference invite like the Flames were a few years ago, but there are still positives that outweigh the negatives to joining certain conferences.
Another question received on our Instagram story: “Who do you think will be Malik’s top WR target?”
That’s such a good question and almost impossible to correctly predict. In 2020, Malik spread the ball around to a number of targets with no receiver finishing with more than 38 receptions on the season. DJ Stubbs, Demario Douglas, and Kevin Shaa were the top three receivers, in terms of receptions, and they all fell between 25-38 receptions on the year. One of those could be the top target, or we could see either Noah Frith or FIU transfer JJ Holloman emerge. My guess would be on either Frith or Holloman ending the season as the team leader in targets.
Another question received on our Instagram story: “Are Hugh and Ritchie here for the long haul?”
We can never predict exactly what will happen, especially when it comes to individuals and their profession. Who would have ever thought Danny Rocco would leave Liberty for Richmond? I do think Ritchie McKay is at Liberty for the “long haul.” He has turned down opportunities at high major programs. That doesn’t mean that he will finish his career in Lynchburg, but it will take something very special to lure him away. The same can be said of Hugh Freeze. This past offseason was one where Liberty fans had to dodge bullet after bullet, it seemed, to keep him around the Mountain for another year. He’s now entering his third season, and I’m not sure how long he has to stay to be considered the “long haul”, but I don’t think he jumps at his next opportunity unless it’s one he can’t pass up.
Any reason why Trevor Delaite wasn’t drafted? Did I miss it? MLB is always looking for pitchers.
— r.j.d (@jeffd63) July 21, 2021
I was a little surprised someone didn’t take a late round flier on him. He was one of the best starting pitchers in college baseball this spring and was a third-team All-American after going 12-1 with a 2.17 ERA, five complete games, and three shutouts. DeLaite is more of a finesse pitcher who’s fastball maxes out in the low 90s. Most MLB teams are looking for pitchers that can get their fastballs in the mid-90s. Hopefully he will get an undrafted free agent deal.