Saturday night at 6:00 Carter Finley Stadium will be filled with anticipation as the 2011 College Football season kicks off. The Liberty Flames will be the Pack’s opponent, and they will venture into the contest ranked as the preseason #18 FCS team in the country.
The Liberty Flames aren’t the most recognizable FCS program. Most would agree that would be the Appalachian State Mountaineers. However, Liberty has had some success in football in the recent years. Last season, they only lost 2 games. One to James Madison (who stunned Virginia Tech), and to Robert Morris who won their conference. They also defeated the only FBS team they faced, the Ball State Cardinals out of the MAC. Now Ball State doesn’t strike fear in the heart of any college football fan, but they are FBS and David Letterman is an alum. That has to count for something, right?
The Flames are led by Head Coach Danny Rocco. While his name sounds like someone who should be featured in Grease, Rocco features a pretty solid football resume. Rocco played Linebacker at Penn State under Joe Paterno (who has played at Penn State that hasn’t played under Paterno?) for 2 seasons before transferring to Wake Forest to finish out his career. As an assistant coach, Rocco has had more stops than a School Bus. He’s made appearances at Wake Forest, Colorado, Tulsa, Boston College, Texas, Maryland and Virginia as well as a brief stint with the New York Jets of the NFL. He was named Head Coach of Liberty in 2005 and boasts an impressive 40-16 record, including a 21-4 mark in the Big South.
On the field, Liberty returns some talent. This includes All-FCS-Everything QB Mike Brown. Brown finished 2010 ranked #1 in total offense, seventh in passing efficiency, and eighth in passing yards per game, all within the FCS. Brown is someone the Pack will have to keep their eye on at all times. The Flames were also supposed to have preseason All-Big South Nose Tackle Asa Chapman back. However, Chapman was suspended indefinitely by Head Coach Danny Rocco due to being arrested (allegedly) for marijuana and cocaine. Guess he won’t be sniffing out any draw plays, eh?
Brief Tidbits about Liberty:
Location: Lynchburg, Virginia
Conference: Big South (Also featuring Charleston Southern, Coastal Carolina, Gardner Webb, Presbyterian, Stony Brook and VMI)
Mascot: The Flames. Some jokes just write themselves.
Colors: Red/Navy/White. Liberty is expecting to bring around 1,300 supporters, and they have been encouraged by the school to wear Red. Because this won’t make them blend in any more, will it? Also, this will be the most fans ever taken on a road trip by Liberty (as announced by the school), so be sure to be gracious hosts. But be sure not to offer any alcohol to them, as Liberty is a dry university (someone should have told Asa Chapman).
Notable Alumni: Deborah Yow (current NCSU AD), Sid Bream (Former MLB Player), Rashad Jennings (Current NFL Player)
Fans Website/Forums: http://www.flamefans.com
Be sure to tune in to ESPN3.com at 6:00 or head on over to Carter Finley Stadium to check out the Pack take on the Flames. We at Wolfpack Water Cooler hope to see you there!