Notre Dame AD Jack Swarbrick Meeting with Marcus Freeman Today

Is Notre Dame zeroing in on a replacement for Brian Kelly?

The Notre Dame head coaching search is heating up today with reports that Notre Dame AD Jack Swarbrick is meeting with Marcus Freeman instead of being in Dallas to meet with the College Football Playoff Committee. The CFP committee is convening today to discuss expansion to 12 teams or staying at the current alignment of four. Swarbrick, however, has more significant priorities as he is left to pick of the pieces of Brian Kelly’s abrupt departure from Notre Dame for easier pastures at LSU.

Over the last day and a half, since news broke that Brian Kelly was taking the easy way out and going to LSU to pursue a national title there after failing to win one in 12 years at Notre Dame, there has been a groundswell of support for defensive coordinator Marcus Freeman to be named Kelly’s successor. It appears that support has caught the eye of Jack Swarbrick as well.

Heather Dinich did not report that the meeting is specifically for the head coaching job, but one would have to assume that is what Swarbrick and Freeman are discussing. In addition, we learned yesterday that Brian Kelly is attempting to lure both Freeman and offensive coordinator Tommy Rees with him to Baton Rouge. If Freeman is Notre Dame’s man, however, those overtures from Brian Kelly will be futile.

As of now, there are no reports of anything other than Freeman and Swarbrick meeting and that Notre Dame also wants to keep Rees on staff. However, IF you start connecting the dots here, a picture is beginning to become clear that Notre Dame might be zeroing in on Freeman. You don’t try to keep an offensive coordinator on staff as well if you’re bringing in an outside hire.

The timing of all of this is still very fluid. Swarbrick said on Tuesday that they wouldn’t rush a decision, but timing is of the essence here, given Signing Day is just a couple of weeks away. The Irish need stability on the staff by Sunday to have any chance at making the College Football Playoffs. Last night we received confirmation that the CFP committee will consider coach/player availability in their final rankings.

Hopefully, things move quickly, and Notre Dame has its new head coach – preferably Marcus Freeman – in place in short order.

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  1. If it comes out that Swarbrick never even called Fickell, let alone Campbell, how will everyone assess this move then?

    Because given the break-neck speed this got done…from a flat footed, standing start!….. it’s not likely anyone else was contacted at all.

    That is NOT a search. That’s a hockey line change.

  2. The last time making an assistant with no head coaching experience worked at ND was 1818…Knute Rokne. The other 5 times (Devore is excluded) were dismal to mediocre, with Layden and Brennan doing well, but never getting near to a national title.

    BGC 77 82

  3. Well, that was ridiculously quick!
    Consdering Kelly left without tipping Swarbrick off that anything was in the works.

    It would feel like a “more fully considered” decision if it had been made by an AD with more career ahead of him, that he’d need to live with this choice and face the music. But alas….

  4. The coach in this modern era of college football must have the ability to delegate across the board. It`s impossible to micro-manage in today`s complex system. Like on a piano, every key has to be tuned correctly and ready to play in harmony. The coach`s job is to be able to keep everything in tune week after week. Whole team harmony wins.

  5. In the past Notre Dame has always been the school who stole their next HC from other schools, a practice that goes back some 80 years, beginning with Frank Leahy from Boston College, then Ara Parseghian from Northwestern, Lou Holtz from Arkansas and most recently – Brian Kelly from Cincinnati .

    Now the shoe is on the other foot – yea verily it sucks, and the timing makes it that much worse. But unless Marcus Freeman is promoted to the position – which I would love to see – Notre Dame will get its next HC by stealing him from some other school, they will wrap the signing in much virtue, etc. – but the song remains the same.

  6. This would provide ND with much needed stability within the team and with recruiting. It’s a big gamble too. Freeman has no HC experience up to now. And not a lot of Division I experience. Don’t pick Freeman and it’s highly probable he goes elsewhere. Usually a new coach is going to want to bring his own people in and only retain a select few from the current staff. Then we will likely lose at least a few of our current recruits. So you’re basically looking at 2 to 3 years before ND are in any sort of contention again.

    Keep Freeman and you may find he’s the next Bob Davie, a good assistant maybe but not a good HC. Or you might find he’s the next Nick Saban in waiting. There’s just no way to know for sure.

    But honestly, I’d roll the dice on this one. What do you have to lose really. Let him go then you’re going down a few pegs. Take a chance and if it doesn’t work out you let him go down the road and you’d be starting over anyway.

    Keep Freeman and you keep most, if not all the recruits we have, and you likely keep much of the current staff in place. And you prevent BK from poaching half the ND staff, some of whom are pretty good. Hell, I’d keep Rees on staff if he was willing to stay. I don’t think he’s as critical as keeping Freeman, but still. It’d be one more area to retain continuity in.

    1. Crap. Not sure what happened but it happened again. The comment under ‘d’ is my comment. Too bad we can’t edit comments here.

  7. I am guessing he is either named Head Coach ( my guess ) or follows Kelly to LSU. Big pay raise either way. Thoughts?

    1. I would hope Freeman is now smarter than to follow Kelly anywhere..
      If Fickell comes to ND, Freeman could stay, become HC at Cincy, or consider a ton of other good offers.

  8. Normally, I would be against hiring a head coach at Notredame with 0 head coaching experience at this power 5 level. The records show a big difference in winning percentage between coaches with previous head coaching experience and those that dont. The only assistant I ever wanted at Notredame was the late Tom Panga. Ara even recommended him but Notredame hired Dan Devine. I do want Freeman because he loves Notredame is a great recruiter and I feel will assemble a great staff. I also think he will be a great game day coach and have great game plans every week which I dont always feel Kelly did.

  9. This is a fraught situation.

    ND can’t pay Freeman as if he’s a “sure thing”. He’s never been a HC.
    As only the 2nd black head coach ever at ND, and given the media treatment of how the first one ended, it’s an even bigger gamble.
    Yes, the kids seem to universally love him, and that’s great. But it’s not the top factor for success at this job.
    Can he put a great staff togehter? How fat is his rolodex?

    He has no personal/legacy ties to ND specifically….which Swarbrick implied is the top single factor this search.
    And if Freeman was already on the “Mike Elko” plan (using ND to open other doors) he might only be willing to change that plan for *really* big money. And unfortunately, football coaching money is being printed by the sheet this year.

    Again, this is JUST a list of negative issues and risks….Freeman’s many merits are being touted by lots of people.

    1. Again with the no personal ties BS. I’d venture a guess that Coach Freeman is close friends with more ppl at ND than Fickell. I’d venture a guess that Freeman now knows a bit more of the ins and outs of ND than someone who hasn’t coached here.
      He’s clearly friends with Rees. Players love him. Recruits love him. Parents are impressed by him…
      But david with the small d claims he has no personal ties

  10. Accepted common discussion agreement is no way Freeman stays as DC if Fickell is hired.
    Why would he go with BK to LSU as DC (other than more money) than stay and coach with his upcoming D’, and with friend and former coach Fickell? ND can remedy the money; it’s time to spend some of that excessive money ND has and join the 21st century by spending it on Freeman- and what a perfect FU sendoff to Kelly by giving your entire staff all substantial raises AFTER BK leaves. Freeman is obviously worth the gamble and if he doesn’t pan out as HC, he certainly won’t leave the cupboard bare. With potentially elite recruiting classes in ’22 and ’23, BK didn’t leave to have a better chance at a NC @ LSU. Two reasons he left:
    1. “follow the money”
    2. See reason 1.

    1. The money issue is an enormous hurdel for ND…..not only because it has never been onre of the top-paying institutions for footbsll coaches, but because the money being thrown around this year is completely unhinged.

      I suggest we just get this over with …..just start selling an NFT of a national championship every year….for Bicoin. Highest bidder wins.
      Yay, college football!

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