Of all the FCS programs in college football, it has been thought few would be capable of transitioning up to the FBS as painlessly as Liberty University. Given its $1 billion endowment and available funds, Liberty has the resources many FCS -to-FBS programs could only dream of, and it appears Liberty is sparing no expense to make its first full season as an FBS independent program possible.

The Virginian-Pilot reports Liberty will pay Old Dominion $1.32 million to play at Liberty to open the 2018 college football season, Liberty’s first full season at the FBS level. That’s the kind of money you typically see a school like Alabama, Ohio State, or Michigan pay to a school from the MAC or Sun Belt to serve as the sacrificial lamb on any given Saturday afternoon to fill out a schedule. You don’t see non-power conference programs throw around that kind of money to another Group of Five caliber program, until now. Because Liberty was fast-tracking their transition to the FBS by making the decision to move up without a conference affiliation, that meant having to mash together a schedule by any means necessary.

With schools scheduling games years in advance and Liberty making this decision to move up within the last year, putting together a full 12-game schedule had some obstacles. That is why Liberty will play a rare in-season home-and-home series with New Mexico State (a scheduling twist that will be repeated in 2019 between the two FBS independents), and why Liberty may have felt the need to shell out big money to an opponent that will be the likely favorite in Liberty’s stadium for the season opener.

“It was difficult to complete our schedule, and we appreciate that Old Dominion worked with us,” McCaw said.

I’m sure Old Dominion was very cooperative when they found out they could make $1.32 million by playing the game. What school is going to turn that payday down? For the sake of comparison, Old Dominion accepted a $1 million guarantee from Vanderbilt, an SEC program, in 2014. Old Dominion’s Conference USA counterparts from Western Kentucky was paid $1.3 million for a game last year by Alabama. Middle Tennessee will pull in a $1.7 million check from Georgia for a game this upcoming season.

For Liberty, funds do not figure to be as major a hurdle as it would be for schools that need to schedule these types of road game deals, but Liberty athletics director Ian McCaw (the former Baylor AD who was pushed out amid the Baylor rape scandal and given a job by Liberty anyway) claimed the money to pay Old Dominion is available in the budget as a result of signing a guaranteed game in 2018 against a power conference opponent. McCaw did not confirm which school’s guaranteed game fee would cover the expense for the Old Dominion game, but the Flames do play road games at Auburn and Virginia, as announced by President Donald Trump during Liberty’s graduation ceremony this past weekend.

Perhaps in not so surprising news given recent headlines, it appeared Trump leaked the schedule info before Liberty was prepared to share the schedule information with its fans. Per The Virginian-Pilot;

President Donald Trump, who has a close relationship with Liberty President Jerry Falwell Jr., announced Liberty’s future schedules at the school’s graduation Saturday. Although the announcement caught some schools by surprise, McCaw said the announcement was planned.

One can only wonder what Russia will do with that information moving forward now.

[The Virginian-Pilot/Photo: Reuters]

About Kevin McGuire

Contributor to NBCSports.com's College Football Talk, Athlon Sports and The Comeback. Host of the No 2-Minute Warning Podcast on iTunes, Stitcher Radio and iHeart Radio. FWAA member and Philadelphia-area resident.