Liberty welcomed President Donald Trump to campus on Saturday as its commencement speaker. And while the president addressed the 2017 graduating class, he announced some football news.
Yes, really! After offering his assessment of Liberty’s upcoming jump to the FBS level, Trump, with the blessing of school president Jerry Falwell Jr., announced several future opponents for the Flames that had not yet been made public.
Liberty’s two-year reclassification process was approved by the NCAA in February. The Flames will stay at the FCS level in 2017 before beginning play as an FBS independent in 2018. In 2019, Liberty will then be able to compete in FBS bowl games.
As announced by President Trump, the program’s first FBS home game will be against Old Dominion (Update – 5/15: The Virginian-Pilot is reporting Liberty will pay ODU a whopping $1.32 million for the game). Liberty will also have future games against Army, Auburn, BYU (2019, 2022), Ole Miss (2021), Rutgers (2019), Virginia (2018, 2019, 2027), Virginia Tech (2020) and Wake Forest (2022, 2025, 2026), among others.
“It will be a thrilling time during the 2018 season for Liberty Football,” coach Turner Gill said. “Not only are we transitioning to the FBS level, but we are playing some great teams and hope to show our readiness for the next step up. We are also excited for our fans to see the tremendous team we will be putting on the field to entertain them in 2018.”
Added athletic director Ian McCaw: “We are pleased to be hosting Old Dominion in our first home game against a Football Bowl Subdivision opponent. We are seeking to play a prominent home game each year, so the opportunity to host an in-state rival who won 10 games including a bowl game last year is exciting for our program.”
Liberty’s full 2018 slate (future matchups can be found here):
Sept. 1 vs. Old Dominion
Sept. 8 at Army
Sept. 15 vs. Norfolk State
Sept. 22 vs. North Texas
Sept. 29 at New Mexico
Oct. 6 at New Mexico State
Oct. 13 vs. Troy
Oct. 20 vs. Idaho State
Nov. 3 at UMass
Nov. 10 at Virginia
Nov. 17 at Auburn
Nov. 24 vs. New Mexico State
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