If there was any doubt that Notre Dame hired a player's coach after Brian Kelly's departure, the players' reaction to Marcus Freeman on Friday morning should put all questions to rest.
The Fighting Irish officially announced that the defensive coordinator had been promoted, marking it as the 35-year-old's first head coaching job. And the players had very strong reactions when they were told the news.
As Freeman busted through the door, the applause turned into ear-splitting cheers as the group went from one-by-one hugs to an electric mosh pit.
Sports Illustrated's Ross Dellenger reported that the team was expected to offer Freeman the job earlier in the week. In wake of Kelly's abrupt departure for LSU, players, alums and fans all threw out names of who they thought would be the best fit to lead Notre Dame in this next chapter. Star safety Kyle Hamilton endorsed Freeman in an emergency podcast episode earlier this week.
“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."
While this is new territory for Freeman, he will not be alone as he navigates the next chapter. Several members of the staff decided to stay behind when Kelly left, including offensive coordinator Tommy Rees.
"I love you guys. I love this place," Rees told the Fighting Irish in a video of a team meeting posted by the school. "I believe that we can win a national championship here, and I'm committed to doing everything we can to get to that point.
"This is where my heart is, and my heart is with you guys."
More College Football Coverage:
- 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
- Daily Cover: ‘The Schools Clearly Aren’t in Control’: Inside College Football’s Wild Week
- Irish Breakdown: Has Notre Dame Reached Its Peak As a Program
For more news on the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, head over to Irish Breakdown.