Liberty Flames moving up to the FBS as an Independent in 2018

By Kevin Kelley -

The Liberty Flames are moving up to the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) and will play as an Independent, the school officially announced on Thursday.

Liberty will begin the transition from the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) to the FBS starting with the 2017-18 academic year. The Flames will play as an FBS Independent in 2018 and will be bowl-eligible starting with the 2019 season.

“This is a very exciting day for Liberty Athletics and our football program,” said Ian McCaw, Liberty University Director of Athletics. “We are grateful for President Falwell’s vision and leadership in spearheading Liberty’s move to FBS football. We look forward to continuing our upward trajectory of success and meeting the level of competition in FBS.”

Liberty University, located in Lynchburg, Virginia, has been fielding a football team since 1973. They moved to Division I in 1989 and joined the Big South Conference in 2002.

The Flames won the Big South Conference Championship in 2007 and 2008 and were co-champions in 2008, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2013, and 2014.

As an FBS transitional team, Liberty will be required to play three FBS home games in 2018 and five FBS home games from 2019 onward.

The Liberty Flames play on campus at Williams Stadium. The venue, opened in 1989 and renovated in 2010, currently has a capacity of 19,200.

Liberty opens their 2017 football season at Baylor on Saturday, Sept. 2. The Flames also have future games scheduled at Wake Forest (2018) and Virginia Tech (2020).

Liberty Football Schedules

  1. Hawkfan2016
    February 16, 2017 at 9:46 pm

    Every Power 5 program is licking their chops right now to schedule a home game (win) against Liberty! That said, I hope The Flames can pull a couple upsets to go along with the big pay checks!

  2. Chad Finley
    February 16, 2017 at 9:52 pm

    On one hand, I’m thrilled that they’re moving up so FBS stays at an even(ish) 130 teams. On the other hand, it’s Liberty.

    Comment edited by admin.

  3. @dbrunstheworld
    February 16, 2017 at 10:29 pm

    With three religious heavyweights in Notre Dame, BYU and Liberty, a military heavyweight in Army and two kids kicked out of their parents’ basement in NMSU and UMass all independent, does UConn really need to refuse the Big East because they can’t make an independent football schedule? 5 of the 6 would schedule UConn home and home, particularly if a basketball home and home were part of it.

  4. Z Man
    February 16, 2017 at 11:26 pm

    This could be a precursor to a Sun Belt move

  5. David
    February 17, 2017 at 12:05 am

    If the Sun Belt would take Liberty, they’d need another. EKU? I’d think taking back NMSU works better. NMSU provides some warmer games in November over Richmond, Kentucky. Then again, EKU, Lib, CCU, App, GaDo and GaSt make a logical East Division to Troy-USA, UL-ULM, TxSt-ArSt in a West.

    • Z Man
      February 19, 2017 at 9:55 pm

      All those western schools except the AL schools could head to C-USA as part of a chain of events instigated by Cincy and UConn moving to the ACC and Houston, Memphis, SMU and Temple going to the Big 12. The Sun Belt would then need to not only add JMU and Liberty but raid the Southland, with Central Arkansas, Sam Houston, McNeese and Lamar as my picks. UNC Asheville and FGCU could also be added as non-football members.

  6. Mac
    February 17, 2017 at 10:55 am

    UConn will most likely move to the ACC at one point, bringing the old band back together with Syracuse, Pitt, Louisville, etc. Army will then take their place. All eyes are going to then turn to Notre Dame, which will have to choose between joining the ACC (or possibly Big Ten) as a full-fledged member, or retain independence, but may have to have their scheduling and qualifications regulated for future seasons. One of these P5 conferences is going to become 16 members by or around decades end.

    If not Notre Dame, perhaps Cincy?

    • @dbrunstheworld
      February 17, 2017 at 1:17 pm

      I think the Big East is UConn’s only offer at this point.

    • Z Man
      February 19, 2017 at 10:00 pm

      Here are all the changes I am projecting in FBS leagues:

      UConn and CIncy to ACC
      Boise St., BYU, Houston, Memphis, SMU, Temple to Big 12
      Charlotte, Marshall, UAB, Southern Miss, Rice, UTEP to American
      Ark State, ULL, ULM, TX State, Jax State, EKU to C-USA
      C Arkansas, Lamar, McNeese, SHSU, JMU, Liberty, UNC Asheville (NFB), FGCU (NFB) to Sun Belt
      S Illinois, Youngstown St., Robert Morris (NFB), Cleveland St. (NFB), Fordham (FB only), Richmond (FB only) to MAC
      Air Force to FBS Ind. (other sports to Patriot)
      Montana, Montana St., Seattle (NFB) to MWC

    • Shep
      February 19, 2017 at 11:31 pm

      MAC only gives a few years as football only then it’s all or nothing, which is why UMass is Indy. They aren’t a basketball league so all moves would be football driven and they already have six schools in Ohio so there’s no way they add another school there. If they’re looking to add 2, I’d go with one from Illinois/Indiana and one from Pennsylvania/New York.

    • Z Man
      February 22, 2017 at 3:54 pm

      the new football only members I am proposing should stay long term to help the MAC in terms of recruiting in relation to the other G5 conferences

      when they dumped UMass it hurt their efforts in recruiting in New England

    • Z Man
      February 22, 2017 at 3:55 pm

      Plus YSU has long been ready to make the move up to FBS, last year only proved it even more

  7. Shep
    February 17, 2017 at 12:42 pm

    Dumb move by a dumb school

    • Charley
      February 17, 2017 at 3:31 pm

      Great move by a great school.Wish Liberty the best of luck.

    • Shep
      February 20, 2017 at 1:09 pm

      “Great school”? Looks like someone might need to adjust their Google Alerts to see what’s been going on in good ‘ol Lynchburg.

    • Paul
      March 11, 2017 at 12:53 am

      Its not dumb if you can afford it…

      If you ever want to truly learn how to ride a bike, you need to take the training wheels off.

      In the same way, if Liberty wants to build their program to be a real competitor (and beat Notre Dame like their founder predicted many years ago), then they need to take their FCS training wheels off.
      Sometimes the most effective strategy is to just go for it. And they seem to handle themselves in bigger games (They kept up with Virginia Tech for a while — they did not get slaughtered).

      I cannot conceive of how this is a “dumb move”. Perhaps your animosity towards the school is clouding your judgement? (As evidenced by your “dumb school” comment).

      Concerning Liberty being a “dumb school”… I am not sure what you are getting at with this. Certainly schools cannot be “dumb” themselves… and you cannot overgeneralize an entire population of 12,000 students. So you cannot possibly be calling the students dumb, either.

      Maybe its their religious affiliation? Well, that is a subjective preference. Obviously, many people think their religion is okay (even if they dont believe in it), so you can only use “dumb” subjectively to describe your own personal (and largely irrelevant) opinion — but you need not speak as if it is some objective truth.

      All that being said… Liberty has some work to do if they want to be competitive in the FBS.
      It’ll be fun to see them grow.

  8. gary Strnad
    February 17, 2017 at 10:06 pm

    good for Turner Gill!

  9. Jinzo_2400
    February 17, 2017 at 11:44 pm

    You know SEC teams are pissed with once less FCS cupcake to feast on.
    Seriously,this was a bad idea unless Liberty finds a conference ASAP

    • Day
      February 18, 2017 at 6:34 am

      Interesting how you bring up the SEC in all this, meanwhile Liberty has been playing mostly ACC & Big-12 teams. Good move by Liberty if they can afford it.

    • Keith Wayne
      February 18, 2017 at 5:15 pm

      Liberty can afford this more than most universities in the country. Period.

    • Kevin Kelley
      February 21, 2017 at 12:59 pm

      Actually, Liberty has never played a current member of the SEC.

    • Day
      February 21, 2017 at 3:21 pm

      Exactly! That being my point, nor do they any SEC teams have Liberty on their schedules. How the SEC is pissed it beyond me, just another person that wants to put the words “SEC & “cupcake” together.

  10. JackStriker
    February 18, 2017 at 5:41 am

    Wow, I guess we’ll be seeing Liberty a lot on the third week of November in Tuscaloosa, Starkville, etc.

  11. Evan
    February 18, 2017 at 6:05 am

    I wonder if Liberty will keep their other sports programs in the Big South until they find an FBS conference to settle in.
    Currently, Notre Dame, Army, and Navy do not have their football teams in their primary leagues, despite that those leagues (ACC & Patriot) sponsor football.

  12. Drew
    February 20, 2017 at 5:10 am

    I thought schools needed a conference invitation to move up to FBS. Did they scrap that rule?

  13. Johnny Cash (@JohnnyJ1900)
    February 21, 2017 at 11:29 am

    Liberty and BYU ought to schedule a series.

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