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Sports

Marcus Freeman is Notre Dame’s next Dick Corbett head football coach

| Friday, December 3, 2021

After a turbulent two days, Notre Dame named defensive coordinator Marcus Freeman the 30th Dick Corbett head football coach.

The search

The search started Monday night after news broke that former Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly had left to fill the head coach vacancy at LSU. He signed a 10-year deal worth $95 million including incentives.

University Vice President and James E. Rohr Director of Athletics, Jack Swarbrick, found himself in the throes of a head coach search Tuesday and Wednesday.

Freeman was the defensive coordinator this year at Notre Dame, at Cincinnati for four years and at Purdue for four years. He was a linebackers coach at Kent State before that.

On Wednesday night, around 8 p.m., Twitter started buzzing again. Per sources, it was seemingly confirmed that Jack Swarbrick had offered Marcus Freeman the head coaching job.

It’s official

Friday morning, Notre Dame made the news official, with support from University President Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C.

“Marcus Freeman has not only proven himself a superb football coach, he has shown — both in his time at Notre Dame and in my conversations with him this week — that he is a person of highest integrity who cares deeply about our student-athletes and is committed to their success in the classroom as well as on the field,” Jenkins said. “I am excited to welcome him as our new head football coach, and to have his wife, Joanna, and their six beautiful children in the Notre Dame family.”

Swarbrick made a statement as well, listing his reasons for choosing Freeman and what set him apart from other potential candidates.

“Marcus’ ability to connect with people, his fit at Notre Dame and the way he coaches young men set him apart as we went through our search process,” Swarbrick said. “I can’t wait to see how the culture created by these remarkable student-athletes continues to grow under the tutelage of Marcus and his staff.”

Freeman expressed gratitude towards filling the position. Additionally, he outlined some of his goals for the rest of the season.

“It is an honor to be named the head coach of Notre Dame Football,” Freeman said. “I am eternally grateful to both Father John Jenkins and Jack Swarbrick for giving me the opportunity to lead the exceptional men who make this program what it is. Notre Dame is a very special place and I look forward to pursuing a national championship with the most outstanding student-athletes, coaches and staff in college football.”

Spreading the news

After the announcement, Irish social media spaces broke out in excitement. The Notre Dame Football Instagram posted a video of Director of Football Performance Matt Balis announcing Freeman to the team officially. Freeman entered the room to join an energetic mosh pit for his first meeting as head coach. The entire room was yelling and jumping, with Freeman at the center of it.

The post was captioned “a player’s coach,” celebrating the outpouring of support Freeman received from recruits and players even before any decision was made.

The support continued after the announcement with players like Kyren Williams tweeting “#Freemanera”  and others simply retweeting the video. The defense especially had something to say. Players like Kyle Hamilton, Cam Hart and Kurt Hinish had been vocal throughout the process, but with the news official, more comments poured out.

Senior defensive lineman Jayson Ademilola tweeted “We Got Your Back!!! #Freemanera” once the news broke, with a picture of him and Freeman.

Junior defensive end Isaiah Foskey, who has had a breakout sophomore season under Freeman’s direction, tweeted “#Freemanera starts now!! Finish the season Strong”

Telling the team

Freeman will make his first official statement as head coach in a press conference on Monday at 2 p.m. However, after they celebrated, Freeman addressed the players for the first time as head coach and was quick to thank Swarbrick, Jenkins and the University. He said though, that while they facilitated his promotion, they’re not the reason he received it.

“This is the first time I get to address you guys, and it’s been a long — it seems like centuries — that I’ve been at home after me and Jack had this conversation,” Freeman said. “I, first off, want to thank Jack for this opportunity. He’s the one that made this decision. Somebody had to make a decision and he gave me this opportunity. Father Jenkins gave me this opportunity. But the reason why is because of you. Everybody understand that? The reason why I’m standing here is because of you.”

“It is unbelievable how powerful you guys are, alright? It’s unbelievable how powerful your voices are,” Freeman continued. “That’s why we’re gonna do great things, ’cause we’ve got great leaders in this room.”

Freeman said the team wouldn’t be changing, but instead enhancing what they do. He said they would lean on the leadership within the team and find a way to do everything they wanted to.

“We’re gonna set high expectations and we’re going to do everything in our power to make sure we equip ourselves to reach them. And then the next mission’s gonna occur,” Freeman said.

The final College Football Playoff rankings break on Sunday, Dec. 5, which will determine the bowl or playoff game the Irish will attend. Freeman said regardless of who the opponent is, in 48-hours they will have one goal in mind: finish the season strong.

“This isn’t about the future, let’s be clear. That’s a disservice to this group,” Freeman said. “This isn’t about the future. This isn’t about next year. This isn’t about five years from now. This is about right now. It’s about finishing this season off the right way for your seniors. I don’t care about anything else. We’ve all got a job to do. I care about us and this group and this coaching staff and this football family finishing this off the way we have to.”

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About Mannion McGinley

Mannion McGinley is a class of 2023 American Studies and Sociology major with a Journalism minor. She is a member of the Glynn Family Honors program and is Sports Department Editor at The Observer.

Contact Mannion