Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Football coach Turner Gill might have been taken aback when he arrived at Liberty University and learned there is an artificial ski slope on the mountain above campus.
When asked if he lets his players get close to the university-owned ski slope, he smiled and said, "They only look at it from afar."
Of course, that's also the way Liberty football players have tip-toed around the FCS playoffs. Despite winning at least a share of five of the last six Big South titles, the Flames are still seeking their first trip to the playoffs.
The Big South champion wasn't given an automatic bid in 2010, and Liberty lost out on a tie-breaker that season and last year. The Flames were the runner-up in 2011.
Gill's second season in Lynchburg, Va., may be different. Coastal Carolina was a slight favorite in the conference's preseason poll, but Liberty has a home game against the Chanticleers, and with Stony Brook now out of the picture as a member of CAA Football, a playoff bid appears within reach of the Flames.
It seems like a two-team race in the Big South, which is down to six football programs this season. Monmouth University will join the conference next year.
Liberty has aspirations to leave the Big South for an FBS conference in the future. The Flames won't want to leave the FCS level without playing in the postseason.
Following is a team-by-team breakdown of the 2013 Big South Conference race.
The Sports Network's predicted order of finish:
2. Coastal Carolina
4. Charleston Southern