Dick Vitale is obviously best known as one of the voices of college basketball. The ESPN stalwart is a huge sports fan aside from college hoops though and is a true die-hard Notre Dame football fan. He and his wife are major supporters of the school, which his daughters attended.
Vitale is back on the road working college hoops games over the last few weeks, but he's been tapped into the ongoing situation with the Fighting Irish. On Tuesday, a day after the news came down that Brian Kelly was heading to LSU, Vitale threw support behind defensive coordinator Marcus Freeman as the next Notre Dame head coach.
"Next coach at ND Football should be MARCUS FREEMAN - he'll be ultimately a gr8 head coach / come on Father JENKINS & Jack Swarbrick / don't let him get away," Vitale tweeted. "He knows the game, can motivate / can recruit & players RESPECT him. Let him hire an ex Head Coach like Nick Saban does."
It looks like Vitale will get his wish. According to Sports Illustrated's Ross Dellenger, Notre Dame is expected to make an offer to Freeman to become the team's head coach. In addition, offensive coordinator Tommy Rees has made his intentions to stay at Notre Dame clear, and the school will reportedly retain the majority of the team's other key assistants.
Vitale is pretty pumped. Early Thursday morning he celebrated the reported impending Freeman hire on Twitter: "ND Football makes the Right choice baby!"
Freeman has only been in South Bend for one season, joining Kelly's staff after stints as defensive coordinator at Purdue and Cincinnati. Even so, the 35-year-old has been considered a rising star in the sport, and was reportedly set to land other head coaching interviews, including the opening at Duke.
Hours after the Kelly news broke on Monday, Freeman got a big endorsement by four Notre Dame players, including star safety Kyle Hamilton, on their Inside The Garage podcast.
“I’ll put my vote out there for Marcus Freeman," Hamilton said on the show. "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."
Notre Dame football isn't active this weekend, as many conferences have their title games. At No. 6, the team needs some help, but remains alive in the College Football Playoff picture.
Vitale returned to the ESPN mic last week, just days after completing chemotherapy, and less than two months after being diagnosed with lymphoma.
More College Football Coverage:
- Irish Breakdown: Mike Elston Staying at Notre Dame a Huge Win For Freeman
- Brian Kelly’s Brusque Exit at Notre Dame Is More of the Same
- Expanding the College Football Postseason? We've Been Down This Road Before.
- The CFP Selection Committee Somehow Made Notre Dame a Sympathetic Figure
For more news on the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, head over to Irish Breakdown.