The Syracuse Orange football program is desperately in need of future non-conference scheduling help. I know this and you know this (because I won’t let you forget it). So thankfully, Syracuse announced a three-game series against the Liberty Flames on Friday.
As the release indicates, the set will start with a road game at Liberty on August 31, 2019. Then the Flames will head up to Syracuse in 2020, on a date to be determined. They’ll return to SU on September 25, 2021.
Syracuse athletic director John Wildhack has more:
"We are pleased to add Liberty as an opponent. This series makes sense for many reasons. It's an opportunity to play in an area that's important to our recruiting and it's within driving distance of one of our largest alumni centers (Washington, D.C.). Liberty is transitioning to the FBS and they are eager to get quality Power-Five teams on their schedule."
Yeah, would have to agree with him. This does help SU in a variety of ways. Not only does it help recruiting, but it gets very winnable games on the schedule. It also puts us very close to non-New York alums — Liberty is in Lynchbury, Va., plus the Maryland road game is a couple weeks after in College Park, Md. in 2019.
It’s also an easier contest, which we always prefer. Liberty only recently announced they’d be moving up from the FCS level to FBS. For the 2017 season, they’ll be a transitional school, then in 2018, they’ll begin play as an FBS independent (along with Army, BYU, New Mexico State, Notre Dame and UMass).
So for those keeping track at home, that’s three games apiece now in 2018 and 2019, plus two in 2020 and 2021. Wagner’s on the 2018 schedule, but Syracuse has yet to announce it. A quick recap of non-conference scheduling in the near future:
2018: Wagner, Connecticut, at Notre Dame
2019: at Liberty, at Maryland, Holy Cross
2020: at Wisconsin, Liberty
2021: Wisconsin, Liberty
2022: Notre Dame
2024: at Army
2025: Army, at Notre Dame
2026: at Army, at Notre Dame
Obviously, I’m pretty happy withe the above. Notre Dame has to be on there, so the only outlier in terms of what’s needed vs. unnecessary is Wisconsin. Still, schedules that feature teams we can beat (like Liberty) can only be perceived as very good things. There’s also a real likelihood we’re getting a boatload of money to play these games.
And while I won’t be “that guy,” in this article, there’s also the part of all this where I wish it wasn’t Liberty, of all schools.
Liberty University President Jerry Falwell has made numerous waves in recent years for rhetoric unbecoming of his position, and he also hired Ian McCaw -- he of Baylor infamy -- to run athletics. McCaw’s brought former Baylor associates with him, and the whole things feels pretty dirty. The school’s heavily conservative policies (which I’m not attacking here) have been used as a bit of an umbrella for Baylor cast-offs. It’s easy enough to search the other political issues this school’s been embroiled in, so I’ll allow you to do so as you wish.
The verdict? Just beat the stuffing out of Liberty, please, Syracuse. So at least we’ll feel a bit better about playing them (if we can).