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Notre Dame Captains Made It Clear There Was Only Choice .... Marcus Freeman

Notre Dame's captain made it very clear to Athletics Director that Marcus Freeman was their pick to be head coach

Defensive linemen Kurt Hinish found out that Marcus Freeman was the next Notre Dame football coach when center Jarrett Patterson sent a group text to the captains.

Hinish got the text after he woke up from a nap. It was sometime before Freeman was announced officially as the coach last Friday.

“I (thought) I was still dreaming,” he said. “I was like still taking my nap. It was like what was going on.”

Turns out that Hinish, and the six other Notre Dame captains had set the stage for Freeman to be hired when Notre Dame Athletics Director Jack Swarbrick met with them to discuss what characteristics the next coach should have.

Swarbrick publicly said that he wasn’t looking for personal recommendations.

The players had their own agenda.

Hinish said Swarbrick brought up the hiring process, and he asked the captains what characteristics they wanted as a head coach.

“Before we even talked about those, I said, ‘I want Coach Freeman to be the head coach," Hinish said. "And I said more than that. We went around the table and everyone said the exact same thing. After that, it was like, ‘We know who these guys want.’”

Linebacker Drew White said the intensity of the response from the players about how much they supported Freeman was something Swarbrick couldn’t ignore.

“I think he was really floored by the way we had conviction,” White explained. “We were all confident and we knew what we wanted.”

Swarbrick said that after he heard the players, the message he took from it was to “not screw this up” and hire someone other than Freeman.

White said the team didn’t want to upend the culture of the program, which was in a good spot.

“We just said, ‘How can we continue the growth with an overhaul? With a whole new program,” White continued. “We just said we thought the next guy was already in the building and he was ready for the job.”

Hinish singled out multiple examples of assistants who stepped into the head coaching job who excelled.

“You see instances where head coaches leave and you keep everything in house. You want to protect the culture at all costs, ” Hinish noted. “You saw it at Ohio State when Ryan Day stepped up. You saw it when Lincoln Riley stepped up (at Oklahoma). You saw Kirby Smart step up at Georgia. You want to keep everything in house when you have a strong foundation. At the end of the day, he’s a great coach and I wouldn’t want anyone else leading us.”

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White said the team is excited to play for Freeman in the Fiesta Bowl.

“I think this is an energized team,” he said.

Part of that is because of the Freeman hire and part of it is because of the awkward way former Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly left for LSU.

“I can’t speak for everyone,” White said when asked if he was upset about how Kelly left. “I’m sure some people are angry. I felt a whirlwind of emotions. It’s hard to characterize how I was feeling but I feel a whole lot better now.”

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