This will probably slip right past most of the fans and even the media, covering the NCAA Tournament game between Greensboro’s N.C. A&T Aggies and Lynchburg, Virginia’s Liberty University Flames tomorrow night, but at one time, they shared the same players and the same coach….
The year was 1977 and Warren Reynolds was coming off of a rough year, having gone (3-24) in his last season as the head coach of the North Carolina A&T Aggies in Greensboro, North Carolina…
It wasn’t like Coach Reynolds had not experienced success during his five-year stay with the Aggies, he had gone (73-58) overall and he won two regular season titles and three MEAC Tournament Titles, during his hoops run in the Gate City….
The Aggies felt it was time for a change and you talk about a change, Warren Reynolds went from being the head coach at a historically black college/university, to being an assistant coach at an upstart school, that had only been playing basketball for five years total….
Coach Reynolds did not go at it alone, he took part of the N.C. A&T team with him and he teamed up with former ABA(American Basketball Association) star Harley ‘Skeeter’ Swift, as Swift and Reynolds now formed the men’s basketball coaching staff at Liberty Baptist College….
The team played their games at the Jefferson Forest High School in Forest, Virginia, since LBC didn’t even have their own campus then, let alone their own gymnasium…Liberty was only five years old and Coach Reynolds was joining his old friend, Harley ‘Skeeter’ Swift(East Tennessee University and 5 ABA clubs) in their attempt to build a basketball program, at this Baptist college founded along the James River in Lynchburg, Virginia….
Dr. Jerry Falwell and the Thomas Road Baptist Church were the backbone of Libery Baptist College back in those days and it took some real backbone for Warren Reynolds, the recently removed basketball coach from N.C. A&T, to move into the foothills of the Virginia mountains and to begin the task of developing what would one day be known, as Liberty University basketball….
Warren Reynolds was not a dumb man, he brought help with him to Virginia in the form of his son Ricky Reynonlds….Ricky was a guard on his dad’s team at N.C. A&T….Plus the coach also brought in Ed Vickers, one of his top scorers from Greensboro and Ed went on to earn All-America honors, while playing the small forward spot at Liberty….Coach Reynolds also grabbed another guard off his team from Greensboro and that guard was Greg Branch…Branch did not become eligible until second semester and by that time Liberty was treading water fast, almost like they had just gone under for the fifth time, in the James River….
Ricky Reynolds did not find the Liberty layout to his liking and the coach’s son never dressed for a game and left Lynchburg headed for the Marines….Many say he walked away from one branch of the military and joied another, going from LBC, to the USMC…
With Ricky gone and coaches Swift and Reynolds trying to survive with their young team on ‘life-support’, Liberty was getting better, but Swift and Reynolds would never see the Flames’ complete success, come full circle…
Liberty would finish at (7-22) in 1977-1978, but they had laid the foundation for a National Christian College Championship, that would come their way in 1980…..
Warren Reynolds never got to see that title won by the Liberty Baptist College Flames in 1980, because after just one season in Lynchburg, Reynolds and Harley ‘Skeeter’ Swift were out…..
The ‘Greensboro Gang’, with Ed Vickers and Greg Branch remained and they became part of that National Championship team, along with another pretty steady guard, Liberty’s all-time leading scorer, current ACC basketball official/referee, Karl Hess….
With Hess, Vickers, Branch and a cool cast of Flames led by former assistant coach Dale Gibson, they won it all at the Christian College level in 1980….The school had only been around 8 years and they were already National Champions….
Liberty Baptist College, soon to be Liberty Baptist University and then finally Liberty University, National Champs and not many people will remember that the former N.C. A&T coach Warren Reynolds and two former Aggie players in Ed Vickers and Greg Branch helped them to reach that level….
Warren Reynolds, Ed Vickers, Greg Branch and even Karl Hess….Now you know the ‘Rest of the Story’ on how N.C. A&T and Liberty University have been tied together, since back in 1977…..