Hello. Welcome back! Holy hell, I can't believe you clicked on this, you must be so desperate at the end of this horrendously long offseason that you'll read ANYTHING. Great news for me! And great news for you; I was real busy this summer so I didn't have time to do ANY research on Liberty. But that's okay! I've got a great imagination, a can-do spirit, no word limit to stay within (or concept of what one is) and lots of exclamation points!
WOOHOOOOOOO! Let's DO THIS! Damn, that gif never gets old.
1. What's been happening?
A. Sadly, the 2015 season marked the end of not one, but two eras. Frank Beamer has left the Beamer Barn for greener fairways, and the last Fuller brother has left for the NFL in order to finally get paid what he deserves for the privilege of watching him do magical football things. I'ma need a minute.
Okay, tough guy, tell me YOU weren't in a darkened room crying when he declared for the draft.
So what does this mean for the future of Hokie football? Can Fuente carry on the Murray State tradition in Blacksburg? Is there another pair of perfectly gene-matched, virile and fertile parents like Vincent Sr. and Nina out there who have blessed the world with a quartet of amazing sons ready to carry on the brotherly legacy in Lane Stadium?
Elsewhere this summer, the mighty Welsh Dragons made it all the way to the semi-finals of the European Championship in soccer. A country about the size of New Jersey with the population of Iowa came within a whisker of the final at their first major tournament since the Eisenhower Administration. They made it further than traditional powers like Spain, Italy, and England1, and avenged the U.S. for the 2014 World Cup by putting Belgium to the sword 3-1. This happened shortly after my favorite Premier League team managed to become NOT a Premier League team anymore. Yes, Aston Villa was relegated to the Championship, meaning they are now harder to find on TV than the ACC Network, but that much closer to their level of competition, which has recently been just above hungover pub league.
2. Great, I'm so happy for an update on your weird European obsessions.
A. Cymru am byth! Wanna hear about the Olympics next?
3. No. Stop. Please. Football. Now. Who do we start off with this year?
A. The feared footballers of Liberty University!
This was on the second row of a Google image search for Lynchburg Liberty University2. The guy on the far right is my spirit animal.
Yes, a potential in-state rival 90 minutes away! There hasn't been one of those since James Mad-
5. DON'T SAY IT.
A. Uh...I mean...VMI! Whew, that Keydet rivalry was one to remember.
6. If they are so close, why hasn't Tech played them before?
A. Well, that all goes back to where Liberty came from.
7. Here we go.
A. Way back when, you may remember that we were once colonies of the evil tyrants of Great Britain who pissed us off by making us drink tea and buy stamps to mail letters so we'd have to pay their stupid taxes. So a lot of dudes started writing pamphlets and making speeches about how much that sucked and they just wanted some coffee and no, they don't CARE what happened to their mom back in Philly when Aunt Gertrude came for the summer with her seventeen half-feral cats, STOP MAKING HER WRITE US LETTERS.
One of the more famous speeches was by a Virginian named Patrick Henry, who is frequently misquoted as yelling "Give me liberty or give me death!" What he ACTUALLY said was "Give me liberty or give me Beth", referring to Beth Watson, a girl he met at boarding school in Scotland who he'd had a major crush on for decades. Henry wanted the British crown to give her up, or else he was taking his tobacco and his cotton and was LEAVING THE EMPIRE. Well, you can just guess what happened next.
An artist of the time period's rendering of Beth Watson. Walking on water.
The crown, loathe to freely give us a strategically hot ass...et, declined Henry's request and war ensued. Luckily, fellow Virginian George Washington whomped their ass...embled armies and sent them packing, even allying with the French, the military equivalent of tying one arm behind your back, to give the Brits a sporting chance.
Turns out, no one actually asked Beth if she even WANTED to go to America, which, it turned out, she did not. Citing the distinct lack of educational opportunities for her potential children, she demurred, writing to a friend that the only institutions of higher learning in Virginia (at the time) were "either founded or attended by that rapscallion Thomas Jefferson, and any university that would besmirch their good name by a willing association with his has no good name at all." Harsh words, indeed.
8. And yet, true.
A. So Henry did what any forlorn, lovestruck fool would do in the 1700s, he founded a college. Not so much in a final attempt to woo Ms. Watson, but as more of a middle finger type gesture. Mr. Henry was not the most forgiving of men, and in a vile rage, he explicitly named his college after the OTHER option in his threat, Liberty. And here we are.
9. Too late to ask for the short version?
A. Have you never been here before? I don't do short versions. So Beth stayed back in Englandshire and continued the family tradition of producing lovely women with intoxicating accents.
10. Any other interesting facts you can share?
A. Sure. When the athletic department was started up in the 1970s, Mr. Henry's descendants still carried the university's founding story in their hearts. To make sure that any of Beth's great great great great great great grandchildren knew that her scorn had never been forgotten, they decided to honor her with the naming of the mascot. And in a double entendre, they pulled it from the Taming of the Shrew, a none too subtle jab:
All of my Shakespeare knowledge comes from Julia Stiles or Claire Danes
11. Wow. A Heath Ledger pull that wasn't the Joker.
A. The "hunky Australian teen" role really demonstrated his range. Anyway, turns out that "Liberty Hatred That Burns With the Fire of a Thousand Suns" wouldn't fit on the athletic department's letterhead, so they settled on "Liberty Flames" instead. The Henry's certainly enjoy getting all dramatic and Shakespearean on someone. The personification of the Flames mascot now fully encapsulates Henry's pain:
Nothing conveys the concept of liberty and undying hatred more than an angry eagle with...what the hell is that, a beard? Is that a bearded eagle?
12. Any cool football related traditions?
A. Well, they've actually got a whole promotional video on YouTube to help teach people about the awesome, unique Liberty traditions. These include a rather innovative chant when they get a first down of "Move Those Chains", a helpful reminder to the officials that they should adjust the first down markers and associated chain (the inspiration for the chant) to account for the new ball placement. They also initiated a tradition of the "12th Man", something that the Texas A&M Aggies have since appropriated. The 12th Man gets its name from the fact that there are only 11 players allowed on the field at one time, but if you are super sneaky, you can disguise a 12th one and thus give your team a man advantage.
13. Do they have rivalries?
A. Yes! They have a rivalry with the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers, who are named after a rooster from Canterbury Tales. With Coastal Carolina going full Chaucer, it seems to be the only rivalry in college football to be based on each school's preferred choice of medieval English literary figure. Turns out that Coastal Carolina is ditching the Big South (Liberty's conference) in a bid to go to I-A football, which could pose a problem for the rivalry except that apparently Liberty is considering doing that as well. This would give Virginia three I-A teams, along with the Hokies and ODU.
14. Any Fullers?
A. No. Which means Saturday's contest will be a Fuller-free affair.
Take the pain away, Michael
15. What about the rest of their roster?
A. Liberty has many players, including a pair of brothers, Josh and Nick Newman, from Manhattan, NY, a rather uncommon source of football talent, especially considering their parentage.
They've got Tanner Hartman, who'll be playing a homecoming game of sorts, since he hails from just over in Christiansburg and his father was a three-time letter winner at Virginia Tech. He transferred to Liberty after a brief stint at Penn State, because...wait, why didn't he come here? I guess the Hokies were just probably way too good at offensive line to even consider a guy who's dad used to play here. Who needs offensive line depth, anyway?
Other roster highlights that I wish I had made up are a guy named Canon3, a Norwegian named Ernst, a Mitsubishi Dia'Vante, a Jaylyn, whose parents win the award for most unnecessary uses of the letter Y, an Alpha and my personal favorite for reasons I cannot explain, Rudiger Yearick4.
16. Do they have a coach?
A. Yes, Turner Gill, a man you may recognize from his brief success at Buffalo, which he parlayed into a job at Kansas where he flamed out5. Sadly, following the unusual success of Mark Mangino, Turner could not carry on the tradition of corpulence and was fired after winning only five games in two years. Luckily for Turner, he had an AWESOME agent and Kansas had to cough up a $6M payoff to get rid of him, which Turner wisely chose to bring to Lynchburg, VA instead of, you know, the Caribbean where he could live the rest of his life out in luxury on the beach drinking margaritas. Turner has had moderate success at Liberty, making the playoffs once and winning the conference three times in four years while never losing less than four games.
17. Should I go to Lynchburg?
A. Yes, if you are into a year-round "dry slope" skiing complex, they have one! And if you are eating while you are there, why don't you give the Texas Inn a shot, which according to the most recent menu I could find, still lists candy bars on its menu, which I don't think I've seen since 1987. A rave Google review from patron M Hill:
Go for the western and a bowl. This is one of those places you have to stop by at least once. The food is even good when you are sober.
The last sentence reminds me of Gumby's Pizza, except for the part about being good when you're sober. The western mentioned above, or more commonly the Cheesy Western, is a cheeseburger with a fried egg and homemade relish, which...that sounds really good, actually, with a side of Snickers.
18. How about barbecue?
A. According to Google, the best barbecue in Lynchburg is Pok-E-Joe's, which is apparently more a Texas style joint, per Jim Q on Yelp:
This sauces are more of a traditional western style. This is not that vinegar base junk like a the Silver Pig and the like found in South Carolina.
Jim. Jimmy. Jimbo. Where do I even start. Let's just focus on your ignorance, setting aside your insults for my beloved vinegar based sauce, which doesn't actually come from South Carolina, where they use a mustard based sauce. Your throw away insult is like casually deriding the "Zima and Brie" crowd from the University of Maryland. Or saying how terrible that mesquite brisket is in North Dakota barbecue. Well...that's probably true, actually. Moving on, Andy Volenick helpfully adds:
Sadly there were no pokemone there.
Wait...I get it! Good one, Andy. You went through all that effort just to make a stupid joke about a name? How lame can you possibly be?
19. Are you retiring FAINTs since there are no more Fullers?
A. Wow, just keep twisting that knife.
Hard to take deep introspection from guys whose first big hit was about masturbation
No, but we are repurposing the acronym. Lest we forget, Foster also starts with F, meaning we can continue using FAINT to our heart's content. We'll just do some Orwellian history revision to make you think that it was ALWAYS Foster, silly. Looking forward, given the number interceptions Jerod Evans threw last year (three picks in 287 pass attempts), combined with the expected improvement from DBU with Brandon Facyson back and all the freshmen now sophomores AND the expected uptick in quarterback pressure, AND the double-digit leads the defense will be protecting all year forcing the opposition into obvious passing situations DBU can take advantage of, I'm looking for the FAINT count to be in the -17 range this year. Just a guess.
20. What should we watch for on this Saturday?
A. I'm watching for::
- Is 105-0 too much to ask?
- To see if the vaunted Liberty 12th man shows up in Lane Stadium!
- Is Frank going to take time out of his mani/pedi schedule and show up, preferably with a milkshake?
- If Terrell and Tremaine Edmunds and/or Connor and Kevin Kish carry on the brotherly tradition of awesomeness in Blacksburg? Speaking of, did you know identical twin brothers from Oceanside, CA play on the offensive line?
Okay, enjoy the warm up match for the Battle at Bristol and we'll see you next week with an eye searing look at neon orange fashion.
1For many Welsh, this part may actually be even sweeter than making the semifinals. Not REALLY, but...the English are the LOLUVA to Wales, complete with the pretentiousness and some people actually still wear those stupid wigs as part of their job.
2This was actually a shot from a polar plunge for charity, so...respect.
3The literary kind, not the kind that goes boom.
4Maybe because it makes me think of Rutger Hauer playing Hamlet, which I would definitely pay money to see.
5See what I did there?