Make room for one more Football Bowl Subdivision program. The Liberty Flames are moving up from the FCS to the FBS, and they will not need a conference to join as they do so.
Liberty announced the NCAA approved a waiver request for FBS reclassification. A waiver request was submitted to the NCAA in January. Liberty will now begin a two-year reclassification transition and will be a full FBS program starting in the 2019 season, at which time they will be considered eligible for a postseason bowl berth if they meet the minimum number of wins. They will also be required to host five FBS opponents, which should not be too difficult to accomplish.
“This is a very exciting day for Liberty Athletics and our football program,” said Director of Athletics Ian McCaw (who was previously at Baylor as the scandal during the recent scandal news was breaking). “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.”
As far as programs making the move up to the FBS are concerned, Liberty appears to be in a better position than many that have made the move in recent years with a strong alumni base to support the program. It also brings Turner Gill back to the FBS. Gill last coached in the FBS as the head coach at Kansas in 2010 and 2011 after a successful four-year run with Buffalo prior to that, where he was MAC coach of the year in 2007. He has been the head coach of the Flames since 2012, leading the program to three consecutive Big South championships in 2012, 2013 and 2014.
Future conference options figure to be Conference USA or the Sun Belt Conference, unless the program can convince the American Athletic Conference to give them a hard look in the next few years. Not having a conference home will not be easy, as UMass, Idaho and New Mexico State will demonstrate, but Liberty is hopeful the alumni support for the program will carry it for the long haul in a similar way BYU has experienced with its following. Liberty does have a loyal foundation to fall back on, which should help make this transition a little bit smoother than other programs have seen, but the Flames will still go through plenty of growing pains along the way as well.
As for the 2017 season, Liberty will open the season on the road against Baylor.
Needing to fill a single spot in some future schedules, both Michigan State and Washington have come calling to the Mountain West for an opponent. Utah State was happy to oblige.
Michigan State will host Utah State on September 1, 2018. The Aggies will travel to Washington on September 19, 2020. For their travels, Utah State will collect $2.9 million between the two games, according to FBScheduels.com ($1.4 million from Michigan State, $1.5 million from Washington).
The Big Ten and Pac-12 each use nine-game conference schedules, leaving three spots open for non-conference games. The Big Ten requires all conference members schedule one game per season against another power conference opponent (the Pac-12 has no such requirement of its members at this time), although exceptions are made. Utah State, as a member of the Mountain West Conference, would not satisfy that requirement for the Big Ten, but the Spartans already have a road game against Arizona State (Pac-12) on the schedule in 2018. Michigan State and Arizona State will play again in 2019 in East Lansing. Michigan State also has future power conference matchups with Notre Dame (2017, 2026, 2027) and Miami (2020, 2021). Michigan State will also play BYU in 2020 in Provo.
Washington has future power conference matchups with Rutgers (2017), Auburn (2018, in Atlanta), and Michigan (2020, 2021). The Huskies will also face Mountain West Competition from Fresno State (2017), Hawaii (2019), and Nevada (2027).
Utah State will face power conference opponents on the road in 2017 (Wisconsin, Wake Forest), 2018 (Michigan State), 2019 (Wake Forest, LSU), 2020 (Washington), and 2021 (Washington State). Utah State will also host Washington State in 2020 as part of a home-and-home deal. Utah State also has an annual series against BYU running through 2020.
Some fans of the Old Dominion football program may be getting a little impatient with the progress (or lack of) in the development of the football stadium, but Old Dominion athletic director Wood Selig says things are coming along nicely and progress will start to be seen soon enough.
“Once we get the architects engaged, we’ll figure out what $55 million will buy in 2019 dollars,” Selig said, according to The Virginian-Pilot. “Then we’ll have an idea for how much additional money needs to be raised to support the project.”
Old Dominion is planning on tearing down Foreman Field at the end of the 2018 season and rebuild it with modern seating and amenities. The $55 million project remained on the books in the Virginia budget in February, allowing the university to move ahead with their plans. The first step is finding an architect to take on the job.
Because Old Dominion’s football stadium is among the smallest in the nation and will remain so even after the rebuild and renovations, the entire project is expected to move fairly swiftly once the work actually begins. Old Dominion isn’t building a grand football palace, so any concerns over the lack of updates on the stadium should be calmed.
If nothing else, the concerns raised about the lack of updates on the stadium renovations may just mean Old Dominion has some eager fans excited about the future of the program.
Texas senators are taking aim at Baylor University and are hoping to persuade the university to be more open and transparent despite being a private university.
Baylor interim president David Garland faced criticism from senators during a hearing with the Senate Higher Education Committee on Wednesday regarding the coverup of rape accusations found throughout the football program in recent years.
“We were not trying to cover up what happened at Baylor,” Garland said to the committee. Unfortunately for Garland, that was far from enough to sway the senators on the committee from playing nice with him and Baylor University.
“I’m sorry, but I don’t buy that for a minute,” Senator Kel Seliger replied, according to The Texas Tribune. “I don’t buy that for a minute. I think that is exactly what was going on.”
The exchange between the interim president at Baylor and the senator came during a hearing regarding a state bill that requires any school receiving more than $5 million in Tuition Equalization Grants from the state to comply with open records and open meetings laws in the state of Texas. Baylor, being a private university, believes it should not have to comply with the bill, which would open up the doors to more information regarding Baylor’s handling of vile accusations within its university and athletics department.
The exchange comes a day after Baylor moved to dismiss a lawsuit claiming 52 rapes over a three-year period occurred at the university.
If you thought the ugliness around the Baylor situation was going to be limited to athletics, you thought wrong. This is clearly a state-wide concern and battle now. And things are always bigger in Texas, right?
Grab your calendars as there’s been a change to your opening(ish) weekend college football agenda.
Texas A&M road trip to UCLA is one of a handful of high-profile games that will help launch the 2017 season Labor Day weekend. The game, which will be played at the famed Rose Bowl, had been originally scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 2. However, it was announced Wednesday that the game will be pushed back to Sunday, Sept. 3.
The game will kick off at either 7:30 or 8 p.m. ET, with the actual time being determined at a later date.
This year’s game will serve as the back-end of a home-and-home series between the two schools. The Aggies claimed a 31-24 win over the Bruins in overtime last season in College Station.
The 2017 season will actually commence the weekend of Aug. 26 with five games featuring FBS teams, including Stanford against Rice in Australia and Colorado State opening their new on-campus stadium against Oregon State. The first full weekend kicks off the following Thursday — Ohio State-Indiana highlights that day’s lean slate — and continues with a handful of games the next day — hello Colorado-Colorado State, Washington-Rutgers and Utah State-Wisconsin among others.
The first full Saturday features the likes of Alabama-Florida State, Florida-Michigan, West Virginia-Virginia Tech, LSU-BYU, Louisville-Purdue, Cal-North Carolina, Maryland-Texas and South Carolina-North Carolina State squaring off Sept. 2.
A&M-UCLA is the only Sunday game, while Tennessee and Georgia Tech will close out the weekend at the brand-new Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta Labor Day night that Monday.