Former Flames Football Head Coach Sam Rutigliano, a 2015 Liberty Athletics Hall of Fame class member, was recently featured on the LFSN Game On show.
Following an 18-year coaching career in the NFL, Rutigliano helped establish Liberty as an NCAA Division I football program and finished his 11-year coaching career as the program's winningest coach (67-53).
The 1980 NFL Coach of the Year came to Liberty in 1989, the Flames' second season at the Division I level. He made an immediate impact as the Flames won their first six games, including wins over nationally ranked James Madison and Eastern Illinois and the program's first-ever win over an FBS opponent when Liberty knocked off Eastern Michigan on Oct. 14, 1989.
Rutigliano's teams were consistently ranked in the Top 25. Liberty was nationally ranked 23 different weeks and finished three seasons listed among the nation's best (No. 19 in 1992, 1995 and 1997).
Rutigliano coached 11 NCAA All-Americans, two CoSIDA Academic All-Americans, 18 NCAA I-AA All-Independent selections and six VaSID all-state honorees. He also helped elevate the play of fellow 2015 Athletics Hall of Fame inductee Eric Green, who became the first player in program history to be selected in the first round of the NFL Draft in 1990.
Rutigliano remained connected with Liberty's program after retiring from coaching in 1999, playing a key role in the hiring of head coaches Danny Rocco and Turner Gill. Rocco helped Liberty win its first four Big South titles, while Gill guided the Flames into the NCAA FCS Playoffs for the first time in program history in 2014.
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