With Marcus Freeman, Notre Dame finds the coach of the players of the future

With Marcus Freeman, Notre Dame finds the coach of the players of the future

Marcus Freeman had options for 2021.

He could have followed Brian Kelly to be LSU’s defensive coordinator. He could have ended up in Cincinnati if Notre Dame had set up an all-field press for Cincinnati coach Luke Fickell. He could have returned to his alma mater and assist in the Ohio State defense in 2021. Freeman, however, stayed put.

And Notre Dame, especially the players, are going to love him for that.

BENDER: How Notre Dame can reach the playoffs

Freeman is expected to be named Notre Dame’s next coach, according to Irish Illustrated.

Notre Dame security Kyle Hamilton approved the move before it happened on Podcast “In the garage” with teammates Cam Hart, Conor Ratigan and KC Wallace on Tuesday.

“I’ll vote for Marcus Freeman, easily,” Hamilton said on the podcast. “Since coming here, it feels like we’ve known him for years. He’s still balanced. He’s the same guy every day. I think he’s a great leader.”

Imagine being able to have that kind of impact. Freeman, in his first year as Notre Dame’s defensive coordinator, was able to relate to a roster that compiled a 33-6 record over the previous three seasons, strongly linked to his predecessor, Clark Lea.

MORE: How Brian Kelly Said Goodbye To The Team

It’s a movement that keeps Notre-Dame together in the short term. Offensive coordinator Tommy Rees also intends to stay with the squad, according to The Athletic’s Matt Fortuna. The Irish still have one outside shot to advance to the college football qualifiers based on Saturday’s results, and having Freeman on the staff ensures that the continuity of the coaching staff will not be compromised.

If the Irish advance to the playoffs, Kelly’s departure for LSU could have the opposite impact. This decision, at least initially, galvanized a talented team.

Will it work in the long run? Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick is taking a risk as Freeman has no head coaching experience and arguably takes on college football’s toughest job, one akin to the Dallas Cowboys in the NFL. Kelly handled this high pressure job for 12 seasons.

The interesting development here is the perception that Kelly left due to the benefits of recruiting at LSU.

The Irish have a top 10 recruiting class, and Freeman could offer new ground with recruits in the NIL era and the transfer portal. He already has the backing of future NFL stars like Hamilton. Athletic’s Pete Sampson also detailed one such story, where Freeman compared Notre Dame to Jay-Z with rookies.

The idea is that Notre Dame is a legacy program, and Freeman offers something different from Kelly, Charlie Weis or Tyrone Willingham, the first African-American coach on the program which only lasted three seasons from 2002 to 2004.

Unlike these three coaches, Freeman has the “player’s coach” label from day one. He does not have to prove himself in the locker room, and the decision-makers of Notre-Dame wanted this hiring.

Freeman will be there for over three years, especially with the setup. A top-five recruiting class is coming and the Irish bring back enough talent next year to get into the college football playoff conversation again. If the CFP expands, Notre-Dame will be a regular.

Will Freeman be the one to break the program’s national championship drought that dates back to 1988, seven years older than the Cowboys’ Super Bowl drought? That remains to be seen, but it does not appear to be a turning point for the program.

They are going in the right direction.

Notre Dame also had other options for 2021. They could have picked two more former Buckeyes to take the Irish out of the tunnel when the season opens at Ohio State. Fickell would have been great given his Catholic ties to Buckeye State. Former Ohio State coach Urban Meyer would have been the most proven winner, but it still feels like a decision that should have been made in 2005 and his off-court issues in Florida, Ohio State and Jacksonville have probably made the Irish a little squeamish. .

Instead, Freeman will come out of that tunnel next season, and that seems fair for a number of reasons.

Just ask the players who will come out behind him.

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