Notre Dame defensive coordinator Marcus Freeman has been promoted to serve as Brian Kelly's successor as the Fighting Irish's head coach.
Sports Illustrated's Ross Dellenger reported that the team was set to offer Freeman the job earlier in the week. This will be the first head coaching job for Freeman, 35, and he takes over one of college football's most prestigious programs.
On Friday morning, Notre Dame made it official:
Freeman was introduced as the new coach ahead of a Notre Dame team run, as a surprise to the players and they were clearly fired up by the news.
After news of Brian Kelly's departure to LSU, four ND players recorded an emergency edition of their podcast. Star safety Kyle Hamilton endorsed Freeman to get the bump up to head coach.
“I’ll put my vote out there for Marcus Freeman," Hamilton said. "Since he’s come in here it feels like we’ve known him for years. He’s even keel, he’s the same guy every single day. He’s a great leader, knows when to get on you, knows when to cheer you up. He has a great sense of how we’re feeling. He’s a realist in the way he talks to us as a defense."
Freeman played four years at Ohio State as a linebacker, before being selected in the fifth round of the 2009 NFL draft. He bounced around teams before retiring in 2010 due to a heart condition. He returned to his alma mater and started his coaching career as a graduate assistant.
He landed his first position coaching job by handling linebackers at Kent State from 2011–12 and then moved to work at Purdue in 2013. He was elevated to co-defensive coordinator in 2016. A year later, he rejoined former Ohio State DC Luke Fickell at Cincinnati, where he held sole defensive coordinator duties. He joined Kelly's staff at Notre Dame ahead of the 2021 season.
As a first-time head coach, Freeman will have the benefit of retaining much of the staff that Kelly leaves behind. Offensive coordinator Tommy Rees is expected to stay, despite offers to head to LSU. A number of other on-field coaches have indicated the same per various reports.
Notre Dame is 11–1 on the season, and Freeman's first game as head coach will either be in a major bowl game or the College Football Playoff. At No. 6 in the second-to-last Playoff rankings, the Fighting Irish have a shot to sneak into the four-team field, if a few things break their way this weekend.
More College Football Coverage:
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- In a Week of Blockbuster Coaching Moves, Luke Fickell’s Commitment to Cincinnati Stands Out
- So Close, Yet So Far: Why CFP Expansion Was Stalled Yet Again
- The CFP Selection Committee Somehow Made Notre Dame a Sympathetic Figure
For more news on the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, head over to Irish Breakdown.