SOUTH BEND, Ind. - The University of Notre Dame has a prime chance to make a unique and yet intelligent move.
Hire Marcus Freeman as its next Head Coach after Brian Kelly decided to accept being the next LSU Head Coach.
He’s the charismatic and incredibly talented coach that’s needed to help the Irish get over the top and win a National Championship despite its academic standards, and he’s also a Midwest guy that was once recruited by Notre Dame because he was a fit for the Irish coming out of high school.
Now the Defensive Coordinator for the Irish, he’s completely dominated as a coach, helping the Irish defense to give up a mere 23 points in the month of November. Yes, just 23 points during four games. Coach Freeman helped to get his players to buy into a scheme almost immediately, and it’s worked.
He even did so while losing arguably the nation’s top player in Kyle Hamilton to injury. While Hamilton could be a top five pick in next April’s NFL Draft, the Irish defense still slaughtered its last four opponents, allowing just 482 yards passing during that time.
To reiterate, no superstar at safety in Hamilton, who’s missed the last five contests for Notre Dame.
Before he came to Notre Dame, Coach Freeman took a Cincinnati defense over in 2017 that really had to play much better to even reach average. For 2016 the Bearcats came in at No. 72 nationally in total defense by allowing 422.8 yards per game.
By the end of 2018, Cincinnati had a defense playing at a high level and the 11th best defense in the country with 303.5 yards allowed per game.
That same 2018 Cincinnati defense accumulated 31 sacks. In 2016, the Bearcats were at a paltry 19 sacks. To make that transition, Coach Freeman needed to coach at a high level, and he did that. To make it last he needed to do something additional.
That’s something that Coach Freeman excels at doing. He’s one of the nation’s top recruiters regardless of position. He’s helped Cincinnati add a plethora of talented players, and now the Irish bring in a really talented class of 2022 and are expected to do that again with the class of 2023.
For the 2023 class, Coach Freeman already helped to gain the verbal commitments of four of the six Irish commitments, all of which are national recruits and play defense. From that group of four recruits, there’s Keon Keeley, a top-notch defensive end prospect from Tampa (Fla.) Berkeley Prep. He’s absolutely dialed in with Notre Dame, and a big reason why would be that man, Coach Freeman.
Keeley could just about pick his school. He’s the rare 6’5”, 230 pound athlete that’s so naturally talented it does not matter how a team attacks him, he can adjust and make plays. Notre Dame just does not start off its recruiting classes with top edge rushers like Keeley. Under Coach Freeman’s direction, that’s exactly what happened, however.
It’s also something that happened for the class of 2022 as well.
Current Notre Dame defensive end commitment Tyson Ford was a heavy lean to Oklahoma. That would be when Coach Freeman came to Notre Dame and started to recruit Ford. It did not take long for Ford to then make his pledge to the Irish.
Recruits nowadays, they often pick a coach, not a school. Coach Freeman provides Notre Dame with a Head Coach that’s a fit for the school and also a fit for elite recruits. Adding truly top talent to the roster for the Irish, that’s at least half the battle to be the leader of the football program under the golden dome.
When will a coaching decision be made? That’s hard to say. Further, it’s not even easy to say how quickly a coaching decision might be made just for the rest of the 2021 season.
Perhaps Notre Dame will allow Coach Freeman to be the interim Head Coach for the bowl game, or possibly during the College Football Playoffs, if the Irish make it to at least the No. 4 ranking and qualify.
The immediate future with the man leading the Irish is somewhat uncertain, but long term the decision is clear.
Notre Dame needs to make Coach Freeman the next Head Coach of the Fighting Irish.