Notre Dame Football: Marcus Freeman needs fan support more than ever

Entering his second season as head coach, Marcus Freeman has faced many hurdles in South Bend.

There has been a lot of news surrounding Notre Dame Football since the Gator Bowl victory. Several top recruits decommitted at the last moment and coaches left the program. Since then, Coach Freeman has been able to add new coaches and transfer players such as Sam Hartman, Notre Dame’s first Heisman caliber quarterback since Brady Quinn. College Football changes more year to year now than it ever has before. Marcus Freeman’s ability to roll with the changes and adapt will be pivotal for the Fighting Irish getting back to the playoffs.

Coaching Departures

Tommy Rees ironically told the entire team that he was not going anywhere and proceeded to leave the program a little over a year later. It is hard to blame him when the last three offensive coordinators at Alabama were Lane Kiffin (Ole Miss HC), Steve Sarkisian (Texas HC), and Bill O’Brien (New England Patriots OC).

Regardless of how long Tommy Rees had been in South Bend, it still hurts when the former Notre Dame quarterback leaves his alma mater to go to Tuscaloosa. In addition to Rees, the Fighting Irish lost Harry Heistand (retirement), James Laurinaitis (Ohio State), and Brian Mason (Colts).

Irish Return and Add Key Coaches

It is a good sign when the program has success and talented coaches move on to other opportunities such as the NFL. But when coaches move on to other college football programs it is not an ideal scenario, but a situation Marcus Freeman wants to turn around. Notre Dame was able to retain Al Golden, Al Washington, Chansi Stuckey, Chris O’Leary, Deland McCullough, Gerad Parker via OC promotion, and Matt Balis.

The Fighting Irish were able to add quarterbacks Coach Gino Guidugli (Wisconsin), offensive line coach Joe Rudolph (Virginia Tech), and former Ole Miss special teams coach Marty Biagi (per Matt Fortuna).

Offensive Coordinator Hiring Debacle

It appeared that Notre Dame was closing the deal with Utah’s Offensive Coordinator Andy Ludwig as he was spotted with Marcus Freeman at the hockey game. The Irish fanbase was ecstatic with the potential hire of Andy Ludwig after the Utes had been in back-to-back Rose Bowl games and knocked off USC twice last season.

However, according to Coach Freeman and Athletic Director Swarbrick, Coach Ludwig wanted to stay in Utah. Supposedly buying out his contract was not an issue. Perhaps from another point of view, Notre Dame did not offer him enough money to leave. Undoubtedly, LSU did not have a problem offering Brian Kelly a blank check to head to Baton Rouge.

Believe in Marcus Freeman

Even with all the NIL deals going out, Coach Freeman was able to secure a top-10 recruiting class in his first recruiting cycle. The Irish were heavily involved in the recruitment of Dante Moore, Keon Keeley, and Peyton Bowen, to name a few 5-Star players. Moore almost committed, Keeley was committed until Alabama got heavily involved, and Bowen was a hard commitment until NIL likely got him to flip to Oregon then Oklahoma.

Coach Freeman is an elite recruiter, passionate, a player’s coach and has become a Notre Dame man. The video of the players reaction to him becoming the head coach in December of 2021 is all you need to know. Certainly there were highs and lows last fall, but he has the coaching, leadership, and recruiting abilities that are required to win a national title.

I am convinced that Marcus Freeman never sleeps. He oversees Notre Dame Football (one of biggest sports brands in America), is a family man, and seems to be at multiple places at once. For instance, Coach Freeman was at three Notre Dame games in the span of four days. A men’s basketball game and hockey game in South Bend, then a women’s basketball game in Greensboro. Something one would never see Brian Kelly doing.

Final Thoughts

The University of Notre Dame and Jack Swarbrick must have Marcus Freeman’s back. I do not care the reasoning behind Andy Ludwig not coming to South Bend, but Ludwig should have not left without signing a contract. Lately, this scenario reminds me of how the Tampa Bay Rays in baseball hire the next guy up because their budget does not allow them to sign top free agents.

The Irish have been managing the football program like they have a Tampa Bay Rays budget when they are more like the Boston Red Sox or New York Yankees.

Notre Dame nation was instrumental in the hiring of Marcus Freeman. The support they showed for him on social media was outstanding. Although fans are justifiably upset with the offensive coordinator hiring process, that had nothing to do with Marcus Freeman and Gerad Parker. Both coaches have my full support moving forward and I believe the players will go to battle for anyone on this coaching staff.

Yes, there were some growing pains last year, but I believe that Coach Freeman has the capabilities and perseverance to lead the Fighting Irish to a national title with the full support of the University and fanbase.

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  1. I see a lot of potential in Freeman. I don’t think any fan should be calling for his head at this early juncture. Lots of HC’s that turned out great had a rough first year. Our first year wasn’t terrible by any means, though there were some notable lows. But there was a lot of highs as well, and Freeman has shown the ability to adapt. At the same time I’m not drinking the Kool Aid either. I did that with the prior HC for the first few years. Freeman will need to show some progress this year. I don’t think we’re at a NC or bust this year at this point. But with Hartman I think anything less than a playoff spot would be considered a failure IMO.

    I do like Freeman. I want to see him succeed at ND. I think he has the right attitude as a HC. He’s a likable guy too. He doesn’t throw his players or fellow coaches under the bus, even subtly. He gets the responsibility is his ultimately for the success or failure of the program. And his players like him. So I hope he becomes the next great coach at ND, a guy to finally follow Holtz on bringing it all home again and making ND elite.

    1. A playoff spot is patently unreasonable.
      A 2nd yr. HC…with all that’s gone on off-season?? ….c’mon, man.
      And there are too many better teams, playing better slates of opponents, for those four spots.

      I’d give a thumbs up to either of : 10-2 and a NY6 bowl appearance, or 9-3 and a bowl win against a good opponent.

    2. I agree. Both Holtz and Kelly had undefeated regular seasons in their 3rd year. The program is in a MUCH better place now than it was when either of them took over.

      Freeman took over a perennial 10 win team. I’m fine with the hiccups last season, but now he’s got his coaches (the best the University would allow him to get) and a year under his belt, so I think fewer than 10 wins is abject failure (not by Freeman, but by the University to replace Kelly).

  2. Rees will make $1.9 millon next year.
    Pretty good for someone fans here wanted fired.
    So, Eric Hansen…still convinced ND was going to match that?

  3. Fans know that it is the Administration that is the biggest blocker to the program being able to compete in the CFP.

    Until Nd admin evolves their policies to effectively compete in the NIL and transfer portal, Freeman will be coaching with easily removable limitations.

    1. BB, AMEN Friend! In the past two years this game has changed so much that it is no longer recognizable as the game of most of my lifetime. And the Administration’s thinking seems to be similar to the Polish calvary in 1939…”we’re ready for the Wermacht, their Panzers and their Stukas. Why change something that’s always worked in the past, right?”
      As BB put it, thee fans are not the problem here.

      BGC 77 82

  4. How do you know the whole debacle was not Ludwig’s doing? Do you have proof Notre Dame is at fault and not Ludwig?

  5. Fan since 1966. Loyal, passionate with a ND TATTOO ON MY SHOULDER.

    HE will be fine. Great fan base, great alumni and incredible history and facilities.

    Go Irish

  6. Freeman is a better, more sincere, more inspiring human being than Brian Kelly…..pretty low bar.
    But “Please clap!” didn’t work for Jeb Bush, and it ain’t gonna work now.

  7. I think Freeman has tons of support. Frustration with the administration doesn’t really reflect how people feel about Freeman.

    Freeman was a great DC who found himself a head coach sooner than he probably should have been. But he has reacted really well. A lesser coach and things would have fallen apart after Marshall.

    Brian Kelly is a really good college football coach, and he had success at ND despite the backwardness of campus leadership, and any success or failure of Freeman should be judged the same way.

    It takes a really good football coach to win at Notre Dame. You don’t have to be great, but if you’re average you’ll be eaten alive. We’ve seen that time and again. Freeman is absolutely above average.

    Is he a really good coach? Let’s see if he wins 10 games. If he can consistently win 10+ games at ND while being crippled by a broken culture, then he’ll find himself the target of better jobs like Kelly did. If not, then we’ll need to shop around until we find someone who can.

    But so far, I think any reasonable person can see that Freeman has risen to the occasion. He just needs to show he can at least be as good as the last guy

      1. Notre Dame is, wisely but not without frustration, cautiously entering the NIL Era. Rather than blindly jump in (Texas A&M) ND will, as is its history, become much better, or best in this area. Without an open checkbook, Irish recruiting is outstanding, even by our standards. It’s now officially AAA-NFL, and Notre Dame will win with its famous class, not with gaudy deals. The right man is in charge of the program now, and the Irish are in their best position in at least three decades. The long and short of it: We are ND

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