(AP) – Liberty has hired Coastal Carolina’s Jamey Chadwell, a former college quarterback known for his innovative approach to offense, to replace Hugh Freeze as the Flames’ coach.
The school in Lynchburg, Virginia, introduced Chadwell at a news conference Sunday. Freeze left Liberty after four years to accept the same position at Auburn.
Chadwell was the AP’s Coach of the Year in 2020. He guided the Chanticleers to new heights over the past three seasons, leading them to a 31-6 record and a third consecutive bowl game. The Chants appeared at No. 23 in the AP Top 25 two weeks ago but lost 47-7 at James Madison in their regular-season finale with starting quarterback and three-time Sun Belt player of the year Grayson McCall sidelined.
They lost again Saturday, with McCall back in the lineup, 45-26, to Troy in the Sun Belt Conference championship game. Chadwell’s overall record at Coastal is 39-22.
“To have the opportunity to take this football program to the next level in Conference USA, to compete for conference championships, starting in 2024 we’re going to start competing for the CFP,” Chadwell said, referring to the College Football Playoff. “That’s our ultimate goal. Everything that we do will be working towards that.”
Chadwell, who also has guided programs at North Greenville, Delta State and Charleston Southern and has a career mark of 99-57 as a head coach, noted that his record against the Flames was 3-1 at Charleston Southern.
“We’re certainly excited to have him, and we’re certainly excited to match him with our players and our facilities and resources,” Liberty athletic director Ian McCaw said. “We think some really special things can happen.”
At Charleston Southern, Chadwell was suspended for one game in 2016 by the university for violating NCAA social media rules regarding improper contact with recruits. He left after the season for an assistant’s job at Coastal Carolina, and a year later Charleston Southern was forced to vacate 18 victories over a two-year period for NCAA violations.
The Flames’ job undoubtedly became more attractive after four seasons under Freeze.
Liberty was ranked for a time in the AP Top 25 this year, winning eight of its first nine games, including a home rout of BYU and a road win at Arkansas, but closed the season with three straight losses, the last by 49-14 to New Mexico State after news broke that Freeze likely was leaving.
The Flames will make their fourth bowl appearance in a row this year — they have won the first three — and are moving to Conference USA next season. They face Toledo in the Boca Raton Bowl on Dec. 20.
Coastal Carolina, meanwhile, will face East Carolina in the Birmingham Bowl on Dec. 27.
AP College Football Writer Ralph D. Russo contributed to this report.
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