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Notre Dame Players' Input an Important Key in Marcus Freeman's Landing Head-Coaching Role

In a span of about 10 days, the Notre Dame football program has gone through transformative change.

Coach Brian Kelly left for LSU just a week after saying he wouldn't leave the Fighting Irish. Then, on Monday, Marcus Freeman was officially named head coach after serving as defensive coordinator under Kelly for the past 11 months.

The Irish (11–1), who finished fifth to just miss out on this year's four-team College Football Playoff, will instead play No. 9 Oklahoma State (11–2) in the Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 1.

We take a look back at the past tumultuous few weeks at Notre Dame:

Marcus Freeman

Freeman, 35, was named Notre Dame's 30th head football coach Monday.

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  • Kelly's exit was 'classless': Sports figures offered their opinions on the coach's stunning departure, including former Notre Dame quarterback and Fox Sports analyst Brady Quinn. "This was about money. This was about ego. ... You don't leave in a classless way like that, after becoming the all-time winningest coach, unless there's more to it and you want to try to spurn, or try and do this in a conniving way."
  • Kelly shares the reasons why he left for LSU: "It really didn't have anything to do with what Notre Dame couldn't give me as much as another opportunity, another challenge down in the SEC to play in arguably the best conference in the country. And the resources here are incredible."
  • Kelly was asked whether he would target committed Irish recruits: During his introductory press conference to LSU, Brian Kelly was directly asked whether he would target Notre Dame's committed players. "My focus will be on those who have made a decision to come to LSU. We'll be reaching out to those young men first and foremost."
  • Less than a week after Kelly's departure, Irish name their man: Freeman, 35, joined the Notre Dame staff before the 2021 season after spending the previous four years as the defensive coordinator and linebackers coach at Cincinnati. Before that, he was the co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach at Purdue. Freeman played four seasons as a linebacker for Ohio State and was a fifth-round draft pick in '09 by the Bears, though he never appeared in a game and joined the Buckeyes as a graduate assistant in '10.
  • Freeman was the players' choice: Sources familiar with the quick search told Sports Illustrated's Pat Forde that Notre Dame had eight current head coaches on its initial list to fill its open position. Two declined to participate, one had timing issues and two others were eliminated by the school. The list was quickly whittled to three head coaches and Freeman. The player input was significant in pushing Freeman to the forefront.

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