Summer 2024

Jamey Chadwell leads No. 20 Liberty to 12-0 regular season, works to 'spread His message'

Only 11 FBS college football programs in the last five years have played at least 10 games and gone undefeated during the regular season. Just three coaches have managed to do it multiple times. One is Georgia’s Kirby Smart. The second is Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh.

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The third is Jamey Chadwell, who did it at Coastal Carolina in 2020 and again this season — his first at Liberty. The Flames improved to 12-0 with a 42-28 win at UTEP on Saturday and will host New Mexico State in the Conference USA championship game Friday.

Chadwell took the Liberty job after posting a 39-22 record in five seasons as Coastal Carolina’s head coach. He held that role on an interim basis in 2017 and returned to being an assistant in 2018 before taking over as the permanent head coach in 2019.

Back-to-back 11-win seasons in 2020 and 2021 earned Chadwell national attention and multiple coach of the year awards. In 2022, he led Coastal Carolina to a 9-3 record, then was named Liberty’s head coach before CCU’s bowl game. Coincidentally, it was Liberty that denied the Chanticleers a perfect season in 2020 with a thrilling win in the Cure Bowl.

In the press release announcing Chadwell’s hiring, the 46-year-old pointed to Liberty’s faith-centered approach as one of the key factors that drew him to the school.

“I’m not only a believer. I’m a follower of Jesus Christ,” he said. “When you get an opportunity to impact people at the most prestigious institution of higher learning from a Christian background, Liberty University, you don’t pass that up.”

Chadwell said on the Sports Spectrum Podcast in 2021 that he grew up in a family of believers but viewed Christianity as a set of rules rather than a relationship. That changed when he got injured in college. He was supposed to be East Tennessee State’s starting quarterback that season but found himself on the sidelines instead.

Chadwell considers that experience as the point where his personal relationship with the Lord began.

“Football was my god, to be honest with you,” he said on the podcast. “Football was my god. I was trying to stand on that football, and that football was taken away. And I learned at that time that I needed to make sure I dedicated my life to serving Him and His purpose.”

Throughout his coaching career, Chadwell has been outspoken about his faith and sees his job as his mission field. He has Colossians 3:23 listed in his bio on X, and Ephesians 3:21 included in his Instagram bio.

“I believe wholeheartedly this is where God has put me to try to spread His message,” Chadwell said on the podcast. “He’s made me a football coach for a purpose, and I have an opportunity to use the sport of football. … It gives an opportunity, a platform to use that faith through the game of football.”

Liberty is in its first season as a member of Conference USA and enters Friday’s conference championship game ranked No. 20 in the Associated Press poll. The Flames picked up a 33-17 win when they played New Mexico State back on Sept. 9.

A victory could leave Liberty as the highest-ranked Group of 5 school in the College Football Playoff rankings, which would give them a spot in a New Year’s Six bowl game. Asked about the possibility before the team’s regular-season finale, Chadwell said his players are focused on their remaining games. He is prepared to advocate for his team though.

“I just tell them, ‘We’ve got to handle what’s in front of us,'” Chadwell said. “‘If you handle that business, then I’ll find every talking point possible. I can promise you that.'”

Friday’s game kicks off at 7 p.m. ET and will be televised on CBS Sports Network.

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