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.

I do expect there to be some tweaks. Liberty still has a model where it hopes to have 1 Power Five, 1 FCS, and 2 regional Group of Five opponents on the schedule each season. Of course, it takes two to tango, as the saying goes, and we have seen several P5 schools back out of playing the Flames due to the success the program has had over the first several years at the FBS level. To get to where Liberty ultimately wants to go, into the expanded playoffs, the strength of schedule has to be good enough to get serious looks from the committee. Coach Chadwell and AD McCaw know this and are certainly working towards that goal.

These are the types of conversations ASOR Podcast Host Chad Hasson and I have through text frequently. We actually discussed this exact question recently. Based completely on potential impact for this coming season, I would rank them like this:

  1. LB Chike Nwankwo
  2. RB Quinton Cooley
  3. OL Jordan White
  4. S Brandon Bishop
  5. OL Xavior Gray
  6. RB Billy Lucas
  7. WR Reese Smith
  8. DL Grey Carroll
  9. OL Jack Tucker
  10. WR Elijah Smoot
  11. RB Victor Venn
  12. DE Bryson Jennings
  13. TE Jacob Jenkins
  14. WR Errol Rogers
  15. WR Victor Jones, Jr.
  16. CB Joshua Wiggins
  17. DL Amari Williams
  18. RB James Jointer, Jr.
  19. QB Trey Lowe

Let’s start by what we know – Brendan Schlittler will start at right guard and X’Zauvea Gadlin will also start, most likely at right tackle. Jordan White is expected to start as well, either at center or left guard. I expect Xavior Gray to start at left tackle. That leaves one remaining starting spot. If White starts at center, the starting left guard will be between Jonathan Graham or Jack Tucker. If the Flames need a starting center, we could see true freshman Aaron Fenimore enter the starting lineup. There’s also a possibility that Liberty adds another offensive lineman through the portal that is able to start.

As long as Liberty stays healthy at the position, which was the biggest issue in 2022, I don’t expect there to be a QB by committee. Coach Chadwell has mentioned wanting to stick to one QB several times. I currently think it will be either Johnathan Bennett or Kaidon Salter as the starter. Whoever emerges in training camp, will be given every opportunity to succeed.

Entering fall camp, I think it’s Bennett or Salter’s job to lose at the top of the quarterback battle. That leaves Hampton battling with Southern Miss transfer Trey Lowe for the third spot on the depth chart. This could certainly change in the fall, but that is how I currently see it.

Homecoming has been set for Saturday, Nov. 4 against Louisiana Tech.

This is a fascinating question and one I have grappled with over the past few weeks. It will certainly be a different looking team on the floor than what we have seen the past three seasons, but that doesn’t mean the Flames will take a step back. Colin Porter is one of the first guys that comes to mind. I think we will see him take a huge leap forward in his offensive production and could even lead the team in scoring. I am also intrigued to see how Kyle Rode operates in an offense that doesn’t feature Darius. Bowling Green transfer Kaden Metheny and Brody Peebles could both also average double figures this season. Bottom line, I expect to see 3-4 guys averaging 10-15 points per game as opposed to having one player shoulder the load at more than 20 ppg.

I’ll start off answering this by saying what follows is not 100% verified but based off what we have heard regarding the situation. According to sources, prior to the Virginia Tech game on May 10, some baseball players were either suspended or removed from the team due to an undisclosed violation of team rules. It apparently affected several members of the team. We have heard there were 7 players this affected but have not been able to verify this number. Based off who has played it appears some of the names included are Jaylen Guy, Jake Lazzaro, Cole Garrett, Garrett Gainey, and Victor Castillo. The possibility remains that some of these names did not violate team rules and are away from the team due to other reasons.

aaronthepilot on Instagram asks, “How is the jump to CUSA a success? MTSU doesn’t get much attention or ratings.

Great question. I don’t think we should use MTSU as a barometer of success in Conference USA as they have been an average team, at best, in the major sports – most notably football. They have had some isolated success in other sports such as softball and women’s basketball. There will be numerous sports that will see an increased level of competition including men’s and women’s basketball, baseball, volleyball, and softball. I think the move to CUSA for men’s hoops will play tremendous benefits to the team.

As for football, Liberty desperately needed to get into a conference for several reasons. Most notably, for a more direct path to the expanded college football playoffs. When the CFP expands to 12 teams, there will be a path for a CUSA champion to get an automatic bid into the playoffs by being one of the highest ranked conference champions. That is a much more clear path than as an Independent. Scheduling as an Independent was going to continue to be an increasing challenge that was not going to be sustainable long term.

Joining CUSA can also have a positive impact on the University as a whole for future realignment. Remain in CUSA for a few years, be competitive and win a bunch of championships while also being a good conference mate will only help the program in future talks.

daniel_griffith23 on Instagram asks, “how long do you think we will be in CUSA?”

To piggy back off my previous answer, I don’t think we should enter CUSA with an eye to the exit door. I think we should enter CUSA looking to help improve the level of play across the board in the league. That will hopefully produce championships and continue to increase the Liberty athletics brand. If we do that, we will continue to see an increase in value for future realignment talks.

With that said, Liberty does not view CUSA as a final stop. The conference has been a great launching pad for other programs to join other conferences such as the AAC most recently. We will have to keep our eyes on the Power Conferences and see how much movement is there. Those dominoes are what sets off a chain reaction that reaches Liberty and CUSA. I would imagine we see another wave of realignment in the next five years and, with continued growth, Liberty should be a prime candidate to join a league like the AAC or even the Big 12.