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Know a ’10 Opponent: Liberty

In an effort to educate, preview, and most importantly, make fun of, the upcoming teams which dare play the Cardinals, OTP is proud to present the Know a ’10 Opponent series. Like we always caution, previewing and attempting to quantify the unquantifiable, especially two months away from the season is basically begging for failure, but we’ll fling some poo and see what sticks, shall we? I mean, after all, we predicted like 10 wins for BSU last season and we totally nailed that one, didn’t we? I can’t find the results, so let’s just go with that. So sit back, boys and girls, and know your ’10 opponents.

Liberty University Flames
I’ll be honest with you, friends and countrymen. Part of me wishes this game was being played in Lynchburg, VA where Liberty is located. I was “fortunate” to spend a year of my life in that city, and if you ever get the chance to visit… pass. However, this preview and post isn’t about the city of Lynchburg proper. It is about Liberty University and their football team, the second opponent for the Cardinals in 2010, and the second FCS opponent that BSU will challenge in as many weeks.

Normally, I would bitch and complain about two consecutive FCS opponents, or really two FCS opponents at all, but quite frankly, after last season, I will take wins however they come. FCS opponents? Awesome. Muncie middle schools? Super. BSU Rec league flag football champions? Suit ’em up. There will be a time to demand excellence in scheduling and a commitment to long-term success. For now, I just want wins. Any wins. The sweet tasty delicious kind that blow the stench of a 2-10 season right out the door. That’s what’s needed, and hence, why it’s only a mild low-level grumble from OTP about two FCS schools.

If you’re like me, you like to know a little about the school we’re playing before you decide your pre-game course of travel down the highway of mockery. You also need to know what they do better than us so as to perhaps see a counter attack of smack before it actually is lobbed across the interweb or the parking lot. The good for Liberty is they have money. Significant money. Fuck me money and fuck you money. Money, money. They are growing by leaps and bounds, new buildings, and an expansion of the football  stadium to around 30,000. Impressive, right? But let’s not cream our jeans in envy just yet.

Liberty was founded by the late Jerry Falwell, whom I actually was behind in line at the Taco Bell drive thru in Lynchburg. He got 2 large diet Pepsis in case you were curious. The mantra of Liberty is the “Liberty Way”, and their code of student conduct is intense. Let me give you the cliff’s notes version… “If it’s fun, and you would enjoy it, then don’t even consider doing it.” There’s a series of punishments and fines for activities like breaking curfew, drinking, smoking, attending dances, watching R rated movies, wearing clothes with any kind of holes, entering the bedroom of the opposite sex, and viewing sexually explicit material. I know… take a moment. Let that sink in.

And more importantly, if the same code of conduct was enforced at BSU, I would have been expelled after weekend 1. Their “Do Not” list was more like the average Tuesday night. Camel Lights, Bud Light, and my aversion to porn are just three of the infinite reasons why I am not a Liberty alum or staff member, since they have to abide by the same code.

Now some of you may be thinking there’s a loophole in the above conduct code. It says “opposite sex”, so perhaps a late night game of tummy sticks is ok? Wrong. Arresting gay rights activists, pulling out from a political action group that had a group of gay republicans, and even hosting an anti-gay conference is all in a days work for the Liberty faithful and the folks that run the school. I would imagine for a gay student, Liberty makes Abu Ghraib look like Disneyworld. (Irony alert… their mascot is the Flames. That made me chuckle when I found that out and it still does.)

For the BSU fans, is it likely that Liberty fans that you’ll encounter in Muncie will condemn you to hell for this drinky, smokey, hole in clothes type “fun” we like to have in the tailgating lots? Most likely not. But play it safe and leave your rainbow flags and assless chaps at home just to keep the peace, mmkay?

What Have You Done for Me Lately?
Perhaps focusing on things like religion and schoolwork actually benefits the football team. BYU agrees, and Liberty has certainly had its share of success recently. 2007, 2008, and 2009 Big South Conference Champions, and a total resurgence of the football team under head coach Danny Rocco has characterized the Flames over the last several seasons. A staunch defense and a high-powered offense make the Flames a very dangerous team. One thing to note, though, is that Liberty does not take the payday games against major opponents as they have no need for the money. So their win-loss record and stats of note are compiled annually against nearly exclusive FCS opponents. They did play West Virginia last season, losing by 13, and Toledo in 2007, losing by 1. Each of the last two years saw Liberty ranked in the Sporting News FCS poll by season’s end, clocking in at 14th and 22nd respectively.

8-3 in 2009 and 5-1 in conference play means this is a team very used to winning regardless of the opponents. Liberty also has knocked off two MAC opponents, Buffalo in 1998 while they were still in the FCS and Eastern Michigan in 1989, a MAC member at the time.

The Man Who Wears the Headset
Danny Rocco seems to be the real deal and someone that isn’t deserving of even a cursory barb thrown his way. To take a team that was 1-10 in 2005, increase the wins to 6 in 2006, and then rattle off three straight conference titles means he’s doing something right. He has a ton of experience, both in the NFL and major college BCS level conferences, so Rocco is making a major impact and running this FCS school like a BCS powerhouse. He has energized the fans, the administration, and really the entire area. Focusing on both offense and defense, Liberty has set school and national records in both over the last several years.

The three-time Big South Coach of the Year (06,07,08) just signed a contract extension through the 2014 season, and if this success continues he could have his pick of jobs from the FBS division.

Players and Stats of Note
Offensively, Liberty returns several key skill players, but must replace their QB. Redshirt junior Mike Brown saw action and gametime last season, but this will be the first as the presumptive starter. He is an explosive dual threat, capable of running or passing, and the Cardinal defense will need to step up and play big to stop him. At the running back position, 09’s statistical leader Aldreakis Allen returns for the Flames, after 530 yards and 9 TDs, similar numbers that Mike Brown had. Stop Brown and the Cards win. Plain and simple.

How Worried Are We?

This opponent’s OTP Threat Level is hard to pin exactly. While the worrisome nature of playing the first quality opponent of the year is valid, that first quality opponent is still an FCS team, this BSU team is much improved from last year, and it just doesn’t feel right to peg an FCS opponent as a medium worry level. So we’ll stick them in Category Blue for now… sort of like drinking tequila on an empty stomach. Odds are nothing bad happens, but the potential for waking up next to a lagoon creature of sorts is a definite possibility.

The Tacks-o-Brass
Is Liberty Southeast Missouri State? No… they are far better. Are they New Hampshire from last season? Perhaps. But the key question to ask is whether or not this BSU team has progressed or learned anything since the last time they stepped on the field with an FCS power. Perhaps the saving grace for BSU is the fact that this isn’t game #1 for the 2010 season. If that was the case, our Threat Level may be considerably higher. Expect a win, but take nothing for granted, and if the defense lets Mike Brown run wild, then it could be a very long day in Muncie.

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5 Responses

  1. I truly believe this Liberty game will give us a clear picture as to how we’ll fare in MAC games…anyone with eyes has seen time and time again that this type of upper level FCS program is on par with any of our conference bretheren…right now I’d say we stand a 50/50 chance in this one…I will be extremely optimistic for the remainder of the season’s fortunes if the Cards shock me with a convincing win.

  2. Not a word about LU’s wide receivers Chris Summers or B.J. Hayes? Nothing about recent transfer Korrey Davis, or sophomore SirChauncey Holloway? I figured you’d at least hit Holloway for the chance to make fun of his first name …..

    Maybe this should have been titles “What we don’t know about our opponents,” since the rules at the religious school received more attention than the football team.

  3. Thanks Warren for your insight and critique. Perhaps we’re waiting until not two months from the game to do actual in depth analysis of the teams. Perhaps we simply wanted a way to talk briefly about the upcoming opponents without getting bogged down by numbers. Perhaps we just wanted to poke a little fun at a school like Liberty. A school I used to live near. A school whose students came to the school I worked at to party, drink, and fornicate becaue apparently that’s frowned on there.

    Thanks for reading.

  4. Sorry for the attitude — I just get tired of seeing it every time I read anything about Liberty — “They’re a Christian school — get a load of these rules!! ROFLOLOMG!!!11!!” (Of course, the rules aren’t nearly as bad now as they were in the dark ages when I was there — and there were still PLENTY of opportunities on and off campus to break them.)

    I’m actually hoping to get up to this game, since it’s only about a three hour drive from here.

  5. I’m actually kind of impressed with your research about my alma mater, however to give a little insight for this season, Aldreakis Allen will not be returning to the program but Korry Davis and SirChauncey are both great backs. Are they better than Allen? IDK. But as far as the “Liberty Way” is concerned, its becoming more guidelines than rules. I know Doc is turning over in his grave right now, but the school and the community are changing. Hopefully they will keep the values that Dr. Falwell lived his life to preserve. I will definitely be watching this game though. It will be a good one!

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