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Jerry Falwell’s mission to build Liberty University into academic, athletic powerhouse highlighted in video during BYU game

Video includes clips from Saturday’s BYU-Liberty game

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Brigham Young Cougars running back Sione Finau (35) breaks away from Liberty Flames safety Isaac Steele (13) as BYU and Liberty play an NCAA football game in Provo, Utah on Saturday, Nov. 9, 2019.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

From a football perspective, last Saturday’s game between the BYU Cougars and Liberty Flames at LaVell Edwards Stadium was billed locally as a contest between two faith-based institutions that the Cougars should comfortably win.

In a video produced by Liberty University and posted on Facebook during the game, it was clear that much more was at stake for the visiting side than whatever happened on the field.

The video, which lasts just over two minutes and shows Liberty players arriving in Provo, features a narration as if university founder Jerry Falwell Sr. were speaking (he passed away in 2007). It outlines a vision Falwell had that Liberty would one day become like more prominent faith-based institutions such as BYU and Notre Dame.

“The difference between mediocrity and greatness is vision,” the narration begins. “My dream was to raise up a world-class university that would compare favorably with what Brigham Young and Notre Dame provide for Mormon and Roman Catholic young people, a world class university; academically excellent, athletically competing at the highest level in the NCAA. A tall order, but that was my vision.”

The video then shows Flames head coach Hugh Freeze giving a pregame speech to his players in which he relayed Falwell’s vision.

“This thing was cast four decades or more ago,” Freeze said, adding that his players had an opportunity to represent Liberty University and Jesus Christ. 

“You can win this football game, but it will take 60 minutes of the most intense effort you’ve ever given,” Freeze said.

The video concludes with players reciting a scripture and running out on the field at LaVell Edwards Stadium.

BYU wound up winning, 31-24. After the contest, the two teams gathered at midfield for a prayer.