Here is a taste of J. Brady McCollough’s long-form piece at the Los Angeles Times:
Signs offering football ticket discounts cover the campus, and posters of the team’s new coach, Hugh Freeze, encourage the effort to “Rise With Us.” Clearly, there is room at Liberty for the country’s Saturday religion.
Falwell Sr. had a vision of Liberty being for Evangelical Christians what Notre Dame is for Catholics and Brigham Young is for Mormons, and the newest team in major college football is not subtle with its imagery. The Flames wear red, white and blue. Their mascot is a bald eagle.
Read the entire piece here.
- This article is mostly about football. Liberty’s quest to become an evangelical Notre Dame is never framed in terms of academics, intellectual life, or research. At one point in the article, McCollough says, “To be a worthwhile university, Jerry Falwell Jr. thought, you needed to have two elements at the front: music and athletics.” Really?
- Liberty University, with its vast resources, could be evangelicalism’s best chance at developing a serious research university. But it won’t happen until the university offers tenure for faculty, invests money in faculty research, and broadens the doctrinal requirements placed upon faculty. Falwell Jr.’s is not committed to these things. In fact, the president’s rabid support for Donald Trump has seriously damaged any such advance and has probably set it back a few decades.
- Will Liberty University ever become the “evangelical Notre Dame” in football? I doubt it. I don’t think there are enough evangelicals who play football. I could be wrong about this, but Liberty will never be anything more than a mid-major football program. Sure, they will occasionally pull-off an upset victory (remember Appalachian State and, more recently, Georgia State), but this will not make them a perennial power. (Update: Syracuse shut-out Liberty on Saturday).