Athletics

Football’s Future

February 26, 2019

LOOKING AHEAD WITH HEAD COACH HUGH FREEZE

In 2018, Liberty University became the ninth team in NCAA history to win six or more games during its inaugural season in the Football Bowl Subdivision — college football’s highest level of competition. Now, as the program looks ahead to the 2019 season, excitement has never been greater.

On top of the Flames’ success last fall, Liberty announced the hiring of former University of Mississippi Head Coach Hugh Freeze as the ninth head football coach in program history on Dec. 7. The announcement was made one week after Liberty completed its final season of a two-year FBS transition process.

Hugh Freeze meets with players before his welcoming press conference on Dec. 7 when he was named Liberty’s ninth head coach.

Freeze, 49, said his first couple of months on the job have been busy but exciting.

“I couldn’t be more thrilled with how the journey has started off here,” he said. “It’s a joy to be back in the grind of recruiting and developing relationships — not only with the players and their parents, but also with fellow coaches and people here in the administration like (Director of Athletics) Ian McCaw, whose leadership has been absolutely phenomenal.”

Freeze finalized his coaching staff in late January. (View a staff directory, including new hires.)

“I am blessed to know a lot of outstanding coaches from around the country, and I believe this group will capture the hearts and minds of our young men, leading them with our core values of faith, attitude, mental toughness, integrity, and love,” Freeze said.

Freeze also hit the ground running with recruiting efforts, announcing his first-ever signing class — with 14 new recruits — during the early signing period on Dec. 19. On National Signing Day, Feb. 6, he announced another eight players signing national letters of intent. (See the full list of incoming recruits.)

Head Coach Hugh Freeze addresses the media at his introductory press conference on Dec. 7 in Carter Tower at Williams Stadium.

“The great thing about it is that Liberty just sells itself once you get the players on campus,” said Freeze, who is known for being one of the top college football recruiters in the country. (He landed the fifth-ranked recruiting classes at Ole Miss in 2013 and 2016.)

“The Liberty brand is strong; we’re going to make it stronger, and it’s going nationwide,” he added. “We’re going to put an exciting brand of football on the field. It’s going to be fun to watch, and I encourage everyone to get their season tickets and pull for these young men that are going to lay it on the line for this university.”

Freeze said construction projects such as the Liberty University Indoor Practice Facility in 2017, the expansion of Williams Stadium last year, and the ongoing renovation of the Football Operations Center have made Liberty’s facilities “second to none” and are positive indicators of the university’s support.

“Our administration doesn’t just cast a vision for this football program, they put things behind it to show that there is proof to it,” he said.

Click image for football ticket information.

With Freeze at the helm of a program that will return 15 offensive and defensive starters, the Flames’ goal of qualifying for their first bowl game in their first season of full bowl eligibility appears to be within grasp.

“I’ve loved challenges my whole life and that challenge in itself really motivates me,” said Freeze. “I want to see the look in those kids’ eyes when they get invited to a bowl game, and I want to see the excitement in the fans here. Time will tell if we’re able to do that or not. It’s going to take an enormous amount of commitment and sacrifice and hard work.’”

During his five seasons at Ole Miss (2012-16), Freeze guided the Rebels to four bowl games and defeated Alabama in back-to-back seasons.

Freeze said he can already tell that God is doing a great work at Liberty and believes that the best is yet to come. As the program continues to fulfill the vision set forth by Liberty’s founder, Dr. Jerry Falwell, he wants to be the one to carry the torch into an even brighter future.

“I’m excited to experience the passion I’ve heard so much about when it comes to game day at Liberty,” he said. “I’ve talked with coaches from other teams who have played at Williams Stadium and they commented about the passion they saw from Liberty’s fans and how it was the best they saw from any place they have visited. I’m excited to help grow that passion and give Flames Nation a reason to pack Williams Stadium as they Rise With Us in 2019.” (Read more about the game day atmosphere.)

Career Highlights

  • Career coaching record: 69-32
  • Head Coach Lambuth University 2008-09 (20-5)
  • Head Coach Arkansas State 2011 (10-2)
  • Head Coach University of Mississippi 2012-16 (39-25)
  • Bowl appearances with Ole Miss: BBVA Compass Bowl (Jan. 5, 2013, defeated Pittsburgh, 38-17); Music City Bowl (Dec. 30, 2013, defeated Georgia Tech, 25-17); Peach Bowl (Dec. 31, 2014, lost to Texas Christian University, 42-3); Sugar Bowl (Jan. 1, 2016, defeated Oklahoma State, 48-20)
  • 2011 Sun Belt Conference Coach of the Year
  • 2014 Grant Teaff Coach of the Year (from Fellowship of Christian Athletes)

CONVOCATION NOTE

Nearly a year prior to being announced as Liberty’s ninth head football coach, Freeze addressed the student body on Jan. 24, 2018, during the first Convocation of the spring semester.

Freeze was joined by his wife, Jill, and their pastor, Chip Henderson of Pinelake (Miss.) Christian Church, for Freeze’s first public appearance since he left Ole Miss in July 2017. The couple shared their story, testifying to the grace and redemptive power of God.

Freeze used the acronym FILM (Faith, Integrity, Love, and Mental toughness) to outline his message, connecting it to the way football players spend time studying game film to succeed. Freeze said his faith played an integral role in acknowledging his failures and restoring his Christian walk. He said integrity involves owning one’s mistakes and being accountable for them. Love often requires asking for forgiveness or being willing to forgive, and he reminded the crowd that God’s love never changes. He said mental toughness is the ability to get up day after day with the same level of enthusiasm and effort.


FLAMES FOOTBALL 2018 INAUGURAL FBS Season Recap

For the 2018 season, Liberty finished 5-1 at home and 1-5 on the road. In their historic FBS opener, the Flames dominated in-state rival Old Dominion University in a 52-10 triumph played in front of 20,425 fans in a newly renovated Williams Stadium. Other home wins included: Troy (22-16), Idaho State (48-41), New Mexico State (28-21), and Norfolk State University (52-17). In the contest against NSU, junior quarterback Stephen Calvert became the program’s all-time leader with 65 career touchdown passes; junior wide receiver Antonio Gandy-Golden became the second Flames wide receiver in program history with back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons; and junior running back Frankie Hickson eclipsed the 1,000-yard rushing mark for the year, becoming the 15th player to reach a 1,000-yard rushing season in program history. Liberty’s only home loss was to North Texas University.


SEASON TICKET PACKAGES

A season ticket package provides fans with significant savings over purchasing a single game ticket. Reserve season tickets for as low as $70 per person for a general admission ticket.
West Club Seats: $360
West Premium Chairbacks: $165
West Reserved Benchbacks: $135
West Reserved Bleachers: $85
East Reserved Benchbacks: $100
General Admission: $70
Discounts are available for Liberty University faculty and staff, former student-athletes who join the Flames Club, and recent alumni (graduates from 2015-19). Call 434-582-SEAT (7328) or email Tickets@liberty.edu.

JOIN THE FLAMES CLUB

Membership starts at just $60. Members can enjoy preferred parking, seating, and pregame hospitality benefits, based upon membership level.

Call 434-582-CLUB (2582) or email FlamesClub@liberty.edu.

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