Liberty Flames football
2022 Liberty Flames football team
Liberty Flames wordmark.svg
First season1973 (1973)
Athletic directorIan McCaw
Head coachHugh Freeze
3rd season, 26–11 (.703)
StadiumWilliams Stadium
(capacity: 25,000)
Field surfaceFieldTurf
LocationLynchburg, Virginia
NCAA divisionDivision I FBS
ConferenceDivision I FBS Independents
All-time record279–248–4 (.529)
Bowl record3–0 (1.000)
Conference titles8
ColorsBlue, white, and red[1]
Fight songFan the Flames!
Marching bandThe Spirit of the Mountain

The Liberty Flames football program represents Liberty University, a private Christian university located in Lynchburg, Virginia, in college football. The Flames compete in NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) as an independent. The program, which previously competed in Football Championship Subdivision (FCS), announced it would start a transition to the top level of NCAA football in July 2017. The Flames became a provisional FBS member in 2018, and became a full FBS member with bowl eligibility in 2019.[2] In 2020, Liberty entered the rankings in the AP Poll at 25 for the first time in program history.[3]

In 2021, Liberty University announced the Flames would become full members of Conference USA effective for the 2023 football season. [4]


See also: List of Liberty Flames football seasons

Liberty Flames football in 2007
Liberty Flames football in 2007

Danny Rocco era (2006–2011)

In 2007, the Flames captured their first Big South Conference Football championship with a 31–0 victory over Gardner-Webb. The Flames capped off their second year under head coach Danny Rocco with an 8–3 record and an unblemished 4–0 Big South record to claim the title.[5][6]

Liberty ran its unbeaten Big South streak to 11-straight games, finishing back-to-back conference championship seasons with a 30–10 victory over Gardner-Webb. The Flames finished with a 10–2 record on the year and finished the conference slate unbeaten at 5–0. The Flames to become the first team in Big South history to win five conference games in a season and joined Gardner-Webb as the only two teams to post consecutive unbeaten seasons. Liberty finished ranked 15th in the FCS Coaches Poll and 14th in the Sports Network Poll.[7][8][9]

Undefeated in Big South play for 2009, the Flames just needed to capture a win over Stony Brook in the season finale to secure a 3rd straight Big South Conference Championship. Stony Brook who had only lost one game in Big South play (a 30–27 overtime loss to Charleston Southern the previous week) for 2009 could claim half of the Big South Championship with a win over Liberty. The Seawolves won the game 36–33 to share the 2009 Big South Championship with the Flames.[10]

Liberty again became conference co-champions again in 2010. Coastal beat Liberty for the first time since 2006 then the Flames bounced back the next week to secure a win over Stony Brook and a share of the conference championship (three-way tie with Coastal Carolina and Stony Brook).

After the 2011 season, Rocco left Liberty for the head coaching job at Richmond.

Turner Gill era (2012–2018)

Liberty became the conference co-champion for the third time in 2012. After starting off 2–0 in conference play, Liberty traveled to Coastal Carolina, where they lost to the Chanticleers 36–12, bringing their overall record to 3–5. Liberty would then play then ninth ranked Stony Brook, beating them 28–14, also extending their at home conference win streak which dates back to 2006. In order to win a share at the Big South title, they would have to beat the Virginia Military Institute Keydets. Liberty won the game 33–14, and won a share of the title along with Stony Brook and Coastal Carolina with a record of 6–5 (5–1 in conference play).

The 2013 Flames shared the conference championship for a second consecutive year in 2013. Liberty opened up conference play at home against Coastal Carolina, where they let a 19-point lead slip away in the second half as the Chanticleers rallied to win in double overtime, 55–52. The Flames would rebound with a shutout victory at Gardner-Webb to mark the first shutout in Turner Gill's eight seasons as a head coach. After victories at home over VMI and Presbyterian, the Flames captured a share of the Big South title with a 56–14 victory at Charleston Southern who has previously beaten Coastal Carolina. Liberty shared the title with Coastal Carolina, each with identical 4–1 conference marks, though Coastal Carolina received the automatic bid to the FCS playoffs.

Liberty became the conference co-champion for the third consecutive year in 2014. Liberty started Big South Conference play against Gardner-Webb with a 34–0 shutout victory. After three consecutive conference victories, the Flames fell at home to Charleston Southern, 38–36. The loss to Charleston Southern would be Liberty's only loss in Big South play. The Flames rebounded with a 15–14 win over rival Coastal Carolina (ranked No. 1 in the FCS polls at the time), and Liberty clinched a share of the Big South Conference championship. Liberty also earned its first ever FCS playoff berth in school history. Liberty defeated James Madison in the first round of the playoffs, 26–21, before losing to Villanova in the second round, 29–22.

Liberty earned a conference co-championship again in 2016, marking their eighth conference championship. They finished the season 6–5, 4–1 in Big South play to share the conference championship with Charleston Southern. Despite the conference title, the Flames were not invited to the FCS playoffs.

Citing the need to care for his wife, Gill announced his retirement from coaching after the 2018 season.[11]

Hugh Freeze era (2019–present)

17 months after resigning from Ole Miss Rebels football, Hugh Freeze was named as Liberty's ninth head coach on December 7, 2018.[12] For the 2019 season, the Liberty Flames would finish 8-5. They would make and win their first bowl game as an FBS program.[13] In 2020, after a 6-0 start, Liberty made it in the AP Top 25 Poll for the first time in their program history, making it at No. 25.[3] Liberty would go on to finish 10-1 in 2020 and finish the season ranked 17th in the AP Top 25 Poll.[14]

Conference affiliations

Liberty has been both independent and affiliated with one conference.[2]

Conference championships

Liberty has won eight Big South Conference championships, two outright and six shared.

Season Conference Coach Overall record Conference record
2007 Big South Conference Danny Rocco 8–3 4–0
2008 Big South Conference Danny Rocco 10–2 5–0
2009 Big South Conference Danny Rocco 8–3 5–1
2010 Big South Conference Danny Rocco 8–3 5–1
2012 Big South Conference Turner Gill 6–5 5–1
2013 Big South Conference Turner Gill 8–4 4–1
2014 Big South Conference Turner Gill 9–5 4–1
2016 Big South Conference Turner Gill 6–5 4–1

† Co-championship

Bowl games

Liberty has participated in three bowl games, since joining the FBS in 2018, going 3–0.

Season Coach Bowl Opponent Result
2019 Hugh Freeze Cure Bowl Georgia Southern W 23–16
2020 Hugh Freeze Cure Bowl Coastal Carolina W 37–34 (OT)
2021 Hugh Freeze LendingTree Bowl Eastern Michigan W 56–20

Playoff appearances

Liberty has made one appearance in the I-AA/FCS playoffs since 1989, going 1–1.

Year Round Opponent Result
2014 First Round
Second Round
James Madison
W 26–21
L 22–29

Head coaches

Liberty has had nine head coaches in program history.[citation needed]

No. Tenure Coach Record Pct.
1 1973 Lee Royer 3–3 .500
2 1974–1976 John Cartwright 14–13–1 .518
3 1977–1983 Tom Dowling 33–38–2 .466
4 1984–1988 Morgan Hout 20–29–1 .410
5 1989–1999 Sam Rutigliano 67–53 .558
6 2000–2005 Ken Karcher 21–46 .313
7 2006–2011 Danny Rocco 47–20 .701
8 2012–2018 Turner Gill 47–35 .573
9 2019– Hugh Freeze 18–6 .750


Liberty plays its home games at Williams Stadium which has a capacity of 25,000.

Notable former players

Future opponents

Announced schedules as of June 30, 2022.[16]

Week 2022 2023 2024 2025 2026 2027 2028 2029 2030 2031
Week 1 at Southern Miss Bowling Green Coastal Carolina Wake Forest at Wake Forest at Duke at Virginia Tech at Virginia Tech
Week 2 UAB at Coastal Carolina at UCF at Middle Tennessee Virginia Tech at North Carolina
Week 3 at Wake Forest at Buffalo at Eastern Michigan Western Kentucky at Coastal Carolina North Carolina at
Week 4 Akron Eastern Michigan Ball State at Army Duke
Week 5 at Old Dominion Old Dominion at Appalachian State at Ball State Coastal Carolina
Week 6 at UMass at Marshall at
Week 7 Gardner–Webb (FCS) at Appalachian State
Week 8 BYU at
Week 9 East Tennessee State (FCS) Texas State James Madison
Week 10 at Arkansas at South Carolina UMass at UMass UMass
Week 11 at UConn UConn Campbell (FCS)
Week 12 Virginia Tech UMass at UMass UConn New Mexico State at Virginia Tech at New Mexico State
Week 13 New Mexico State at New Mexico State at Florida International at Duke Army at New Mexico State New Mexico State
Week 14 | New Mexico State TBD – at Marshall


  1. ^ "Web Content Team | Web Policy | Liberty University". Retrieved March 31, 2016.
  2. ^ a b Sordelett, Damien (February 16, 2017). "LU to be FBS bowl eligible starting in 2019". The News & Advance. Archived from the original on June 2, 2017. Retrieved February 18, 2017.
  3. ^ a b Sordelett, Damien (November 1, 2020). "Liberty cracks AP Top 25 poll for first time".
  4. ^ "Liberty Moving to Conference USA for 2023-24 Season".
  5. ^ "Football – News –". Archived from the original on 2011-10-01. Retrieved 2010-08-18.
  6. ^ "Liberty vs. Gardner-Webb - Game Recap - November 17, 2007 - ESPN".
  7. ^ "Football – News". Liberty Flames. 2008-11-24. Archived from the original on 2011-10-01. Retrieved 2010-09-15.
  8. ^ [1] Archived September 18, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^ The Sports Network. "Football Championship Subdivision". The Sports Network. Archived from the original on May 3, 2011. Retrieved 2010-09-15.
  10. ^ "—Official Web Site of the Big South Conference". Retrieved 2010-09-15.
  11. ^ "Liberty football coach Turner Gill abruptly retires". 2018-12-03.
  12. ^ Caron, Emily (December 7, 2018). "Liberty Hires Hugh Freeze".
  13. ^ Couch, Jacob (2019-12-23). "Liberty becomes third team in college football history to win bowl game in first season of eligibility". The Liberty Champion. Retrieved 2021-01-15.
  14. ^ "AP Top 25 Poll". AP NEWS. Retrieved 2021-01-15.
  15. ^ "C-USA picks Liberty among four new additions". 5 November 2021.
  16. ^ "Liberty Flames Football Future Schedules". Retrieved May 15, 2020.