Falwell is after something more than growth for its own sake. He wants to create "champions for Christ." That's where O'Donnell comes in.
"Our football program can't change the culture," Falwell said. "Our debate program can, by producing advocates who know how to argue for Judeo-Christian ethics and the American Constitution. We have 32 kids on our team this year, and they'll all be lawyers or leaders of some sort. Our goal is to create an army of people who know how to make our case. These are brilliant, articulate students. I couldn't have made the Liberty debate team when I was that age. I couldn't talk that fast."...
This enthusiasm is expressed in practical ways. Liberty's program has five full-time coaches and a budget of half a million dollars. And in college debate, money talks. Since its inception in 1980, the Liberty program has won 15 national-rankings championships, two more than its closest competitor, Northwestern. Most of this success has come under O'Donnell. Born to working-class parents in northern Virginia (his father and mother both worked for the telephone company), he first came to Liberty as a freshman student in 1982. He chose the school over the Air Force Academy because he wanted to be a minister.
Let's note that in real life, it's important to have facts on your side. It's probably useful to cede Plato the point that philosophy, as in a respect for sincerity, honesty and truth, as practiced in one's life is superior to rhetoric. In a world where dogma constrains truth, it's not surprising that one might turn to rhetoric.