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Marcus Freeman's Letter To Notre Dame Strikes All The Right Chords

Marcus Freeman penned a letter to Notre Dame nation that shows why he was the right man for the job

Marcus Freeman penned a letter to Notre Dame nation that shows why he was the right man for the job. It is obvious that in a very short period of time, Freeman has embraced Notre Dame in a way his predecessor never did.

This has been true from the moment Freeman arrived in South Bend, it oozed out through his introductory press conference, and it was blatantly obvious in the letter he published in The Player's Tribune.

"I can’t tell you exactly what it was that told us to come to Notre Dame, but there was something," Freeman wrote. "We all know there’s something different about Notre Dame. We all know it’s something special. And I just thank God that I didn’t make the wrong decision twice."

Freeman was talking about his decision to choose Ohio State as his college destination and then his interview with LSU back in January prior to him taking the defensive coordinator job at Notre Dame.

"I could tell you 100 ways that I understand how special this place is, that I understand this football team, and that I know what it takes to win a National Championship," continued the new Irish head coach. "But I’ve learned something valuable in my career as a coach: It isn’t always about what you say. At the end of the day, it’s about the impact of what you do and how you make people feel."

The last part of that comment is arguably the greatest contrast between how Freeman views being a coach compared to his predecessor. Kelly was the master of saying what he thought people wanted to hear, and he often lacked any sort of genuineness when he spoke.

Freeman is the exact opposite.

Freeman's youth, out-going personality and the fact his players supported him so vociferously has led to him being called a player's coach. Some mean that as a compliment, some use that phrase as a cause for concern. Freeman's explanation of what that means was sheer perfection.

"I know I’ve been labeled as a player’s coach, and I’m proud to wear that badge. But I’ll be honest, I think there’s a misconception about a player’s coach, that Oh, the players like him — he’s their buddy," Freeman wrote. "And my players know this: just because I don’t walk around like I have to put fear in their hearts, that doesn’t mean the demands aren’t going to be extremely high. I’ve always been a believer that being a coach doesn’t mean there has to be some constant level of discomfort for kids to reach their goals. You can be very demanding, and still make people feel good and still make people feel important — as long as they believe that you have their best interest at heart."

He continued.

"That’s the coach I’ve always been, and I’m going to stay true to that. These kids today are so smart. They’re so intelligent, and they know what’s real and what’s phony. If you’re not authentic they’ll see right through you."

My favorite part of the letter was a portion where Freeman discussed his team going for a shutout against Georgia Tech. Here's what he had to say.

"A couple weeks ago, we had a game coming up against Georgia Tech. And at this point in the season, we’re playing some of the best ball we’ve played. We hadn’t given up a touchdown in two weeks. And you just knew it, you know? You could feel it in the locker room: Our guys were dying to get a shutout.

"We made it to halftime vs. Tech, and we’d given up zero points. Those boys were hyped. And I got after them a bit. I said, “I’m not worried about a shutout. I’m not worried about what the score is at the end of the game right now — because we’re still in the thick of it. What I’m worried about right now is execution on every single play.” One play, one life.

"And they went out there in the second half and played some of the most focused football we’ve played all year. And yeah, they got the shutout. But the better feeling, for me? It was the satisfaction of them earning a shutout. It was what led to the outcome, not the outcome itself."

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Freeman could not have ended his letter in better fashion. One of my many criticisms of Kelly over the years, one that often resulted in me catching the most flak, was that I didn't care about the 54-9 record. Yes, it was a strong record, one built on the back of a schedule that allowed him to go 41-0 against unranked opponents, compared to just 13-9 against the better teams.

Kelly focused way too much on outcomes and not nearly enough on the process that leads to those outcomes. That resulted in him accepting aspects of his program, or the performance of those in his program - including himself - that weren't performing at the level needed to compete for a title. 

When you focus on the process more than the results you will never settle for anything other than excellence, and when you fall short you adjust and figure out how to achieve that objective. 

Freeman seems to understand the difference, and that should make Notre Dame fans very, very excited.

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