There have been only three days in 2022, and it’s already been quite eventful for the Notre Dame program. The year started as a disaster on the field for the Irish, but off the off the field things are getting interesting. Marcus Freeman has begun to put a personal touch on the coaching staff by hiring former Ohio State All-American and NFL Veteran James Laurinaitis.
Laurinaitis and Freeman shared the field as teammates, and on his Columbus-based radio show Laurinaitis called Freeman his “best friend.” It is still somewhat unclear as to exactly what role the former Ohio State star will play on Freeman’s staff, but it would be hard to believe he won’t be at least somewhat involved with the Linebackers.
Laurinaitis, a potential monster recruiter
Marcus Freeman has been pretty blunt in stating that the people on his staff will have to be excellent recruiters. One has to think that’s what he sees in Laurinaitis.
The two are close friends so Freeman, so he has a pretty good idea of the guy he might be sending out on the recruiting trail and must see Laurinaitis as someone that could potentially be big in recruiting Ohio.
Indiana is certainly not known for being a hotbed of talent, so Notre Dame has to continue to build a base in Ohio, which does provide a good amount of talent, and has specifically given Notre Dame guys like Tommy Kraemer, Lorenzo Styles, Liam Eichenberg, and so many others. Every high school Coach in Columbus, Cleveland, and Cincinnati knows who James Laurinaitis is, and he will have no problem getting into any place he wants to.
Notre Dame has had some success recently taking some big-time recruits out of Ohio State’s backyard, and now with two former Ohio State stars in South Bend, Ohio, will continue to be a hub for the Irish.
New Voices for Notre Dame
To some, it may seem like Marcus Freeman is simply hiring his friends into new roles, like his colleague Brian mason from Cincinnati, but it can also be seen as bringing in folks with a different perspective from somewhere other than South Bend.
It may feel a little odd that Notre Dame is hiring a lot of guys with ties to other Midwest schools like Cincinnati and Ohio State, but a new perspective from people who have been a part of other successful programs in the Midwest might be what this team needs.
Brian Kelly had some bug successes in his hires like Clark Lea and Tommy Rees, but he also had some big whiffs. Two of the notable not-so-great hires were Autry Denson and Todd Lyght, who were Notre Dame legends as players, but not what the program needed as Coaches.
The problem with hiring former Irish from the 90s and 80s is that College Football has changed, and Notre Dame can’t try to win as they did with Lou Holtz 30 years ago.
A guy like Laurinaitis, who played for very successful Ohio State teams more recently followed by a long NFL career that ended just a few years ago, can relate better to 21-year-old kids than guys from the 80s they’ve never seen play. Hiring Laurinaitis in an analyst role has a lot of boom and no real bust potential.
Next Staff Moves
More news will be coming regarding Marcus Freeman’s staff at Notre Dame. Freeman has four vacancies to fill. Defensive Coordinator will be the biggest question as the Irish defense looked like it had never played football in the 2nd half of the Fiesta Bowl. Wide Receiver will be another critical hire for the rookie head coach, given the recent dismissal of Del Alexander. It’s still to be seen who will fill these positions, but one can appreciate Freeman’s different perspective on his search.