A winning tradition at the highest level of NCAA collegiate football was brought to Liberty Mountain when Hugh Freeze was introduced as the ninth head coach in football program history on Dec. 7, 2018. Just like the other stops along his storied coaching career, Freeze has quickly elevated Liberty’s program to unprecedented success during his short time with the Flames. Freeze has experienced similar success at each of his head coaching stops: Lambuth University (2008-09), Arkansas State (2011) and Ole Miss (2012-16) and Liberty (2019-20). Liberty is the second team in NCAA history to win a bowl game during its first two full seasons at the FBS level (2019 and 2020), both coming under Freeze’s leadership. Additionally, Freeze guided the Flames through one of the most unique seasons in NCAA college football history in 2020 where Liberty finished the year ranked No. 17 in the country and tied a program record with a 10-1 overall record. After leading the Flames to an 8-5 record in 2019 and a 10-1 mark in 2020, Freeze has posted a combined 60-38 mark in nine seasons as a head coach (See ^ note below for more information about career coaching record). Freeze’s renowned high-powered offense allowed two of the program’s best offensive standouts to cement their names in Liberty’s record books with numbers that may last for quite some time during his first seasons at Liberty. Wide receiver Antonio Gandy-Golden finished his career as the program’s all-time career leader in receiving yards (3,814), receptions (240) and touchdowns. Gandy-Golden was a semifinalist for the 2019 Biletnikoff Award and was named to the Phil Steele All-America team. Quarterback Stephen Calvert completed his days in a Liberty uniform passing for a program record 12,025 career passing yards, 93 career touchdowns and 896 career competitions. As a team, Liberty finished the 2019 season ranked No. 21 in the country in passing offense (288.9 yards per game) and No. 32 in total offense (439.4 yards per game). Liberty posted an 8-5 record, the most wins for a Flames football team since 2014. The Flames capped their first season under Freeze with a 23-16 victory over Sun Belt Conference member Georgia Southern in the 2019 FBC Mortgage Cure Bowl on Dec. 21, 2019, at Exploria Stadium in Orlando, Fla. Under Freeze’s direction, Liberty had a season of "firsts" in 2020, including the team's first-ever national ranking, first win over an ACC opponent, the best start in school history (8-0 to start 2020), first-ever win over a top-25 FBS program and back-to-back bowl game wins. Liberty defeated a pair of ACC foes in Syracuse and in-state opponent Virginia Tech. The two wins made Liberty the first non-Power 5 team to post a pair of wins over ACC schools in the same season since Houston in 2015. The Flames finished the season with a 10-1 record, tying the program's record for wins in a season (Liberty finished the 2008 season with a 10-2 record). Liberty made a return trip the Cure Bowl in 2020, upsetting No. 9/11 Coastal Carolina, 37-34, on Dec. 26 at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Fla. The game was widely viewed as the one of the most exciting bowl games of the 2020 Bowl Season and was the most watched bowl game involving “Group of Five” teams since the 2017 Armed Forces Bowl with 2.62 million viewers on ESPN. The Flames set a school record for rushing yards in a season in 2020 (2,776) and ranked No. 9 in the country in rushing offense. Liberty also ranked No. 15 in the country in total offense (482.7 yards per game) and No. 11 in total defense (317.7 yards per game). The Flames were one of three teams in the country to rank in the top 20 in both total offense and total defense in 2020, joining Clemson and BYU. Spearheading Liberty’s outstanding offense in 2020 was quarterback Malik Willis. The Auburn quarterback burst onto the national season by leading the nation in rushing yards (944) and touchdowns (14) by a FBS quarterback. Willis, along with defensive end Durrell Johnson, earned All-America honors and were one of 16 Flames named to the Phil Steele Postseason All-Independent Team. Willis, who started to draw attention for the Heisman Trophy award during the season, was named to the Davey O’Brien Award Quarterback Class of 2020 listing was on the 2020 Maxwell Award watch list. Freeze’s efforts to quickly lift Liberty to national prominence did not go unnoticed in 2020. Freeze was one of six finalists the George Munger Collegiate Coach of the Year Award. The half dozen standout coaches named as finalist for the award include Tom Allen (Indiana), Ryan Day (Ohio State), Jamey Chadwell (Coastal Carolina), Luke Fickell (Cincinnati), Hugh Freeze (Liberty) and Nick Saban (Alabama). When hired at Liberty on Dec. 7, 2018, Freeze brought over 25 years of continued coaching success, including head coaching experience that has led to conference titles, nationally ranked recruiting classes and bowl appearances at multiple stops during his highly decorated career. Prior to his current coaching position at Liberty, the native of Oxford, Miss., returned to his hometown school and led it back to championship form during his five seasons as head coach at Ole Miss (2012-16).