Notre Dame Makes Statement Hiring Marcus Freeman Under LSU’s Nose

For Notre Dame to take the next step in becoming an elite program, we know that the Irish have to start winning more recruiting battles with elite programs. On Friday night, the Irish did that and then. Notre Dame officially hired Marcus Freeman, one of the hottest names in the college football coaching circuit, as their next defensive coordinator; winning a head to head matchup with SEC powerhouse, 2019 National Champion LSU.

Wow. Just, wow. This doesn’t happen at Notre Dame, or at least it hasn’t happened at Notre Dame since I started working with Kyle on this site in 1999. Notre Dame has made good hires in the past, but they’ve never been able to tap the next up and coming coordinator over a football factory like LSU like this. Usually, if a program like LSU wants someone, they get him because they’ve been willing to throw more money at coaches.

This is a stark contrast to what happened at Notre Dame just four years ago. After one successful season as the defensive coordinator at Notre Dame, Mike Elko left for the same position at Texas A&M and a pile of money. While it was the Irish made a counteroffer that Elko accepted only to use for additional negotiation with the Aggies; in the end, Notre Dame still lost its defensive coordinator to another program in a lateral move.

That’s not what happened here, though, folks. Notre Dame just targetted the next up and coming defensive coaching star and hired him to replace Clark Lea even though he was LSU’s #1 target to fill their vacant defensive coordinator role. After interviewing with Notre Dame earlier this week, Freemen flew to Baton Rouge to interview with the Tigers, only for Notre Dame to announce they hired him shortly after that concluded.

Notre Dame isn’t just getting an elite “x’s and o’s” defensive coordinator with this hire. They are also getting an elite recruiter who could help them attract the kind of 5-star talent that has mostly evaded Notre Dame for the last two decades. Freeman already helped Cincinnati secure commitments from two 4-star defensive players for the class of 2022. Landing 4-stars at a place like Cincinnati is basically the equivalent of landing 5-star talent at a place like Notre Dame.

Freeman’s recruiting prowess was explicitly mentioned by Brian Kelly in Notre Dame’s release announcing the hiring.

“As we looked into finding someone to run our defense, it was important to find the right fit for our program, and Marcus and his family are just that,” said Kelly. “He has had great success on the field, both running a defense and in his direct work with his linebackers. Additionally, he is considered among the elite recruiters in the coaching ranks.

It should also be noted that Freeman is the first African American coordinator hired under Kelly and the first hired at all by Notre Dame since Charlie Weis hired Corwin Brown.

This isn’t a home run hire by Brian Kelly and Notre Dame. It’s a damn grand slam. For those who were worried that Kelly might take the safe route in replacing Clark Lea – the most successful defensive coordinator at Notre Dame since the Lou Holtz Era – those fears can be put to rest. Kelly just zeroed in on the best defensive on the market and aggressively targetted him.

When Notre Dame lost Clark Lea, Kelly was tasked with replacing one of the most successful assistant coaching hires he’s made in his time at Notre Dame. It’ll be nine months until Freeman calls a defensive game for the Irish, but if he doesn’t at least pick up where Lea left off, it would be the upset of the off-season. There is no such thing as a “can’t miss hire,” but this is about as close as you can get to one when hiring a coordinator.

On and off the field, this is a statement hire by Notre Dame. This is the kind of hire that shows the rest of the college football world the Irish are indeed serious about doing what it takes to take the final step in becoming an elite program – the kind of program that not only gets to the College Football Playoffs but does something more than put up an okay fight.

It’s been a rough week of news for Notre Dame with numerous departures for the NFL, but Friday night’s announcement should have every Notre Dame fan very, very excited for the future.

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    1. Sure it was, and the super heavy weight of all time knocked off a true heavyweight champ!

      But you wouldn’t know about heavyweight fights the way you get bitch slapped around here!

      But you stay classy, “Burgy”!

  1. Pre-game trivia:
    Disregarding the completely expunged 2010 season, and the following 2011 season in the wake of Tressel’s firing, the last time tOSU won as few as 8 games was in 2004, when it went 8-4 and were Alamo Bowl champs.

    This year, 8 wins would make them undefeated (and I dare say, indisputable) national champs.

    1. How great is it to watch to real contenders playing for a NC and not a perpetual pretender?!

      I’m sure BK has more important things to do than watch this game and trying to learn something. He has to practice scowling at reporters instead.

      If he were actually watching he might learn how far away ND is from competing at this level, coaching-wise and players-wise!

      I’m rooting for Ohio St. but am just enjoying watching two heavyweights trading body blows, instead of watching a middle weight punching above its class.

      1. No need to wait til after the game since drive-by Ronnie-baby already replied.

        See, since Ronnie is a little bitch who doesn’t know anything about football much less boxing he doesn’t understand that in a heavyweight fight, KOs are common. It happened to Saban and Bama a few seasons back in the title game.

        The point is Bama, Clemson, and Ohio State can KO each other. ND can’t KO either one and will most like get TKOd every time by the big boys.

        If this was ND down like this, game over. It may be for Ohio St. as well. But I can tell you that no one is saying that right now. No one believes Ohio St. is down and out yet.

        ND is just not in the weight class of Bama, Clemson, Ohio St. More then just playmakers, however, the coaching gap between BK and these other elite coaches is huge. Sark is a monster! Reese is a minnow!

        Let’s hope Ohio St. makes it a game in the second half.

    1. With a 2-game pulverizing to end the season, ND should not only fall below A&M, but also OK, who avenged their earlier loss to #6 ISU, and beat #7 Florida in the bowl.

  2. Vs Bama:
    A&M allowed 52 points and 544 yards
    ND allowed 31 points and 437 yards

    Vs. UNC:
    A&M allowed 27 points and 324 yards
    ND allowed 17 points and 298 yards

    1. Agree or disagree with “Burgy” here, and these are just plain stats being presented, FINALLY SOMETHING WITH SOME SUBSTANCE!

      1. SFR:
        Rhonda collects reams of stuff to cut and paste…it’s the rare and closest she ever gets to “insight”.

        Using Rhonda’s definitive, inarguable, “one game settles everything forever” analysis, ND is better than Clemson. Hunh….someone forgot to tell Clemson that for the ACC title game.

        But good to know that if I’m ever desperate for some online recognition, I’ll stay away from future predictions and speculation, but just stick to comments on the past. For really insecure people, reporting and agreeing with the past is painless.

      2. “david”:

        “Cut and paste” notwithstanding, by “Burgy” standards, that was a Ph.D. dissertation!

        Am I endorsing him or his viewpoints? Of course not.

        Let me be clear, “Burgy” is a troll. But at least he tried to make a case, regardless of the source, method, means, etc. Now that might well be the last thing that approximates an argument from “Burgy” in a long time.

        So, now we wait for “Burgy’s” drive-by punditry in 3…2…1!

    2. I played golf in a light rain at my club and shot 85. My BIL played a round at the same club a week later in driving wind and shot 90.
      So I am better at golf than my BIL. Data.

  3. Until Kelly starts recruiting, landing, and developing 5 star and upper 4 star dual threat quarterbacks they will not win a NC. They have to get a qb who can beat teams with his arm and legs. Book was a good QB and had a great career but wasn’t good enough to beat the elite teams. His win against Clemson was lucky even against there depleted team. Against a full strength Clemson you saw the real Ian Book. Kelly needs to start Buchner from Day 1. I would rather see ND go 7-5 next year with Buchner than 9-3 or 8-4 with Coan. You have to develop the 5 star kid quickly and get him up to speed. Dont make the same mistake with Buchner that you did with Jurkovec. I want ND to become QB U not TE U. TE’s dont win championships QB’s do.

  4. Cincinnati gets the shaft again. Nothing against Freeman going to ND, except the UC plays ND this year and how will they be able to compete against a team that will now know their every move?

  5. An SEC fan here. Brag on your new hire but at some point you’re going to have to beat somebody. This is the twenty- first year of the Irish saying ‘next year. You’ll see ‘
    The best part is the ad in the middle of this article on my phone. Was for an Erectile Dysfunction pill. Talk about audience targeting…..


      What a miserable life you must live!

      SEC fan, what a joke. You cheer on a team not a conference, loser!

  6. Saying Texas A&M is “lateral move” is being kind. It’s an afterthought program that is historically average. Very few nationally televised games and even fewer 5 star guys. Texas A&M is more compared to Missouri than Notre Dame. They are going in the right direction but get real about who you really are.

  7. This hiring is one of those moments we will all look back on as the beginning of BK3.
    The winds of change have arrived and a tectonic shift in the college landscape is happening. A natty is on the way.
    Do not be deterred, we shall overcome.

    1. For 25 years we’ve heard ‘next year. You’ll see”. At some point ND has to beat someone. This SEC fan really laughed at the ad that popped up over your comment. It was for an Erectile Dysfunction pill. Talk about targeting your audience…..

    2. It’s possible Ron. The key is getting a 50 points a game offense like Alabama,Ohio State, Clemson LSU last year. To show you how far you can go with a great unstoppable offense Oklahoma was in the playoffs 3 straight seasons with 3 of the worst defenses in the country ranked 110.. Two of those years they were within 1 score of Alabama in the 4th quarter and one year they went to double overtime with Georgia. How did they do it? Great offensive mind Lincoln Riley Heisman Trophy winning quarterbacks Baker Mayfield ,Kyler Murray and great skilled gamebreakers all over the field ,great oline.

    3. Yes…look out Saban! While you get tier-one head coaches to come in as placeholder assistants, ND got itself a guy from perennial juggernaut Cincinnati to replace the guy who just left size 38 shoes to fill.

      You’re on notice, Nick!

  8. David I grew up 30 minutes from A&M. I’ve been an Aggie most of my life. Half of my friends and family graduated from there and it was my kid’s back up school. Fortunately, she got into ND. So we have watched every Aggie and Irish game this year. And no, the Aggies would not have done better. They nearly lost to LSU who barely had enough players to field a team. They trailed North Carolina most of the orange Bowl while N.C. had opt outs that took away over 85% of their offensive production and nearly 50% of defense. ND covered the line which means they did better than the experts predicted. We were at that game and the atmosphere was flat. ND had the shift call That made no difference in the play, to take away a TD, a missed field goal in a stadium that has a design like no other stadium. The end zones look weird And depth perception can be off. That 10 point difference makes it look like a different game. Aggies would have done way worse.

  9. Totally unnecessary to mention his race. It had nothing to do with his hiring. He was hired on his merits, not because he is black.

  10. Again with the “Elko made a lateral move” BS. He’s working for a real coach towards a NC, building a CV, and banking double. Upgrade.
    And T a&m should have gotten a shot at one THIS YEAR. I’m sure they would have been better than a 20 point dog to AL, and given them a real game.

    ND outbid LSU for an assistant coach! Huzzah!
    Pathetic. But it does show the superior relevance of a recent NC vs. a dozen ancient ones.

    1. Disagree, David. Alabama played and smoked A&M 52 to 24. Also I saw some of their games and they struggled against some average sec teams.

      1. I agree Pete, David is an idiot, Alabama smoked A&M not to mention the fact Notre Dame beat North Carolina and the Tar Heels were never even in it and A&M struggled to beat Carolina

      2. A&M started out the season struggling against Vandy, and faced Alabama in just its 2nd game of the season.
        They were a a much different team after that, and showed it by beating UNC (just soundly as ND did) in their bowl game, even thought the players had every reason to be less-than-motivated, having been unfairly snubbed for the playoff by an ND team that *just* showed how it didn’t belong there.

        A&M won’t miss a beat, and will again be in the hunt next year, with a predictably brutal schedule to get through.
        But that’s the situation the ‘big boy’ football programs are in, and it makes for tremendous entertainment.

      3. Hi Mack.
        A&M scored 24 on Bama, “struggled” to finish the year with just that one loss, and won a good bowl game.
        While ND is on a 2-game “gettin’ smoked” streak.

        There are idiots around….keep searching.

    2. A&M struggled against a heavy opt out UNC as well, missing both their top RB’s and wide out, etc. Not to mention already getting smoked by Alabama earlier in the season. Just saying, I don’t think A&M had much of an argument. I think the outcome would have been much the same either way against this talented Bama squad.

    3. David,

      A&M had a comparable game vs UNC to ND, but UNC was missing almost all of their offensive talent. Had they played a full strength UNC team they likely would have lost, they gave up 27 points to backups…

      1. I can see 3 or 4 teams giving Alabama a better game than the scrimmage-for-charity that ND provided.
        And one of them is A&M.
        Sue me.

      1. You speculate with deep, transparent bias.
        Reality is a harsh place, wheree ND actually *WAS* a 20 point dog….the biggest spread in the history of the BCS playoffs.
        Just because you aren’t honest enough with yourself to be humiliated doesn’t mean it’s not humiliating.

  11. I had the opportunity to work with Coach Marcus Freeman at Kent State University. Notre Dame is not only getting a great defensive coach, a great recruiter who relates very well with the new recruits, but a man with high morals and a compassion to make his players feel like they are family. Good Luck Coach, see you in the National Championship Game!

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