Marcus Freeman to lead the Irish

Multiple, reliable sources have confirmed that Marcus Freeman will take over as the next Head Football Coach at Notre Dame. This decision comes just two days after Brian Kelly announced he was leaving for Louisiana State University. The makeup of Freeman’s staff is still not fully known, but Offensive Coordinator Tom Rees has informed the team that he will remain in his current role. Tight ends coach John McNulty will also stay on, as will Running Backs Coach Lance Taylor. News just broke that Defensive line Coach Mike Elston is staying and possibly will become the new Defensive Coordinator.

We expect others on staff to remain as well, but we’ll report that information when we can confirm it. With regard to current verbal commitments in the recruiting world from the class that will sign by February 2022, it remains to be seen whether any changes will occur.

Update: Irish Sports Daily reported that Safeties Coach Chris O’Leary is also returning to Notre Dame.

46 thoughts on “Marcus Freeman to lead the Irish

  1. If ND doesn’t hire Freeman as HC I fear they would lose him within the next few years, and that would be a MUCH bigger loss than losing Kelly.

    I think Kelly is going to be a floperoo at LSU.

    • Short term thinking. It almost never works out. Losing a class and getting the right guy is a much better outcome in the long run than grabbing interim coach. Maybe Freeman will be the right guy, though. Who knows?

      • Very few coaches last a long time, regardless of where they were hired from. Dabo Sweeney and Jimbo Fisher are two guys who had no HC experience and were promoted. Freeman is young, granted. A lost recruiting class can hurt a lot more than you think, and this isn’t just any class.

        • Thomas Richerson says:

          Every HC hiring is really ST thinking, even if they get a 10 year contact like BK. Lack of as many talented players seems to be the difference in ND and Ohio State, Alabama, Georgia, and Clemson over the last few years. And if the cupboard goes bare for a year or two it tends to take a few years after that (if ever) to make it back up. Recruiting – and this class- should not be discounted. You can say what you want about Saban as an on the field coach- but year in and year out his team gets the best recruits. Even he said as much when asked about the difference between college and pro and replied “In the NFL you get one first-round draft pick if you’re lucky. You couldn’t really outwork anybody else. In college I could recruit ten players with first-round talent every year.”

          • Agree – we’ve seen coaches almost kill a program in a short time based on 1-2 years of bad recruiting. The college football world has changed – not only are playoff decisions coming, but the early signing day is in less than 2 weeks – another reason for timing.

          • Of all the things we may end up worrying about with Freeman, I really don’t think recruiting is going to be one of them

    • Dave O;

      WAY over the top and completely inappropriate – were you there? I was, and I would venture that coach Freeman would agree with me – It’s only a game.

      That being said, Kelly must be having 2nd thoughts already, as in “whoops” because he must have been counting on being able to bring a few of his assistants with him, especially Freeman and Rees – that blew up in his face, which IMO is as it should be. It must be acknowledged that the man built a quality program at ND but in the end he DESERTED the young men who believed in him and snuck out of town while it was still dark out, got on the LSU plane, put on a purple tie, adopted a southern accent and headed south.

      Remember – as soon as his departure was announced there were really no “Oh No!!” pronouncements, rather there immediately arose the question – who is the next HC? Freeman’s name came up immediately, and it says here that we got a winner.

      Will he be able to out-recruit Dabo Swinney and Nick Saban?


  2. Awesome news! Hopefully, the decision to make Marcus Freeman the HC will lead to even more recruits in the 2022 class signing. For example, maybe we can now land Xavier Nwankpa, who appeared to be trending to Iowa. I would think that the chances of any of the 2022 class who have already committed to the Irish decommitting, other than possibly Amorion Walker, have taken a nose dive. Should Walker decommit, I can’t imagine it would have anything to do with either Kelly leaving or Freeman becoming the HC. His commitment has always been shaky.

    • Irish in the South says:

      Good and timely coverage, Vannie. The Freeman hire keeps our great recruiting classes together. He is off to a great start with good assistants staying, assistants who see the potential of this group of players. Our AD earned his salary over the last 48 hours, installing a Christian leader, one respected and favored by the players, one with certain qualities that BK lacked. Wish the best for Marcus and watch him beat the odds on becoming a successful HC without HC experience.

  3. I am very excited for the program and the new coach. His energy, class, solid background, and his outstanding recruiting makes him a great choice for the Irish.
    He will replace Notre Dame’s winning its coach but remember he is also replacing the LOOSING-EST coach in Irish history.

  4. I know it’s fun making fun of Swarbrick for this that and the other thing, but in this situation he has said and done all the right things, up to and including hiring Freeman as HC, if the reports are true.

    He kept his cool, saying nothing but nice things about the guy who used to coach the Irish, and in general he did good.

  5. Great Hire! Obvious there’s risk w/ hiring a HC w/ zero HC experience. Nevertheless, #! he has shown great competence as a DC #2 He is a fantastic recruiter, which is 80 to 90% of being a HC today (a far better recruiter
    than BK) #3 He is a Christian man w/ a great family.

    He’ll be a great leader of young men

    Also, Rees staying is a big plus as well.
    Let’s make the playoffs and do what Kelly never did WIN!!

    • Irish in the South says:

      Would love to see this payback. Imagine….Marcus takes the team through the playoffs, beats Georgia and wins the NC!!! He does in 6 weeks what Kelly could not due in 12 years. Vegas odds anyone??

      • I was just thinking the same thing while I was talking to my wife last night, Irish. I hope UC loses to Houston and Alabam is rolled by Georgia. Though, part of me wants to see Michigan fall to Iowa, leaving UC in place for a potential rematch. Only this time, ND rolls them like they did Stanford and Ga Tech.

      • I had the same thought while talking with my wife about who they were looking to hire yesterday, Irish. Wouldn’t it be great to see them finally over the hump?

  6. I was hoping for both Tommie Rees as OC and Marcus Freeman to be HC, I am very happy this has turned out the way it has. Go IRISH. Now on to a National Championship.

  7. Caroline’s Dad says:

    Fired up and ready to go!

    In two days the team may have unexpectedly lost its two worst coaches on staff (Kelly and Quinn) while keeping the best—including Balis—in house.

    I feel better today than I did after the win on Saturday night!

    I also believe that Coach Freeman could become the defensive equivalent to Lincoln Reilly at OU—who took that program to the next level. Whether or not that comes true only time will tell.

    What I know is true right now, though, is we won’t have recruits looking at our HC and USC’s new head man and deciding they want to play for the cool coach instead of the grumpy old man….


  8. The great thing about this board is the insights provided by posters show a depth of knowledge on college football in general,and an understanding of ND. Today’s game is increasingly less about x’s and o’s and much more about the Jimmy’s and Joe’s, probably it always has been. Saban, Swinney, know that and live it, BK was not, overall, a recruiter, he didnt like it., hated it actually.. Marcus loves it, He’’ll get 5 stars to come to ND. The young men he coaches want to be around him, hes a role model with big time colllege experirnce and 6 yrs in the nfl. We do owe BK a fair measure iof gratitude for his work at ND, but he was never going to get over to the top. Marcus is the guy to get ND to the final four with a real opportunity to win it. I highly recommend a viewing of Chris Zorichs podcast, listed on ND Nation yesterday.

    Go Irish.

  9. Been so pumped since the news broke! Freeman will continue to crush it with recruiting and actually be more of a stabilizing force then Fickell would’ve been. He would’ve been the safer choice and probably would’ve won 10 games the first few years but he can’t recruit nationally and the program would’ve slipped eventually slipped back to the 7-9 win range. With Marcus, we should keep most of the next 2 years recruits and maybe even add some dynamic offensive players. No one knows how good of an HC he will be but is certainly worth the gamble as winning a national championship is the goal and he has the highest upside.

    GO IRISH!!!

    • Irish in the South says:

      The recent interviews with Marcus as the new HC afforded him an opportunity to get his message out to all the recruits and future prospects. He did not miss that opportunity. Watch it on ESPN. “ND is a special place….You feel it as soon as you step on campus…” He wants to see that each player reaches his goals….That ND offers more than football success….education, etc. He says all the right things that BK didn’t say. Marcus loves to recruit and that is the lifeblood of the program.

  10. Hey Kelly… Well would you look that. Your former boss didn’t even wait for your seat to get cold. And your players, well, your former players chose Coach Freeman. This should tell you something about what this University and these players feel about you. Boy, to think I thought that I was meeting someone great when I bumped into you in 2009 at the airport in Tampa. After the conversation we had about ND and what it meant to you. Now I know that you aren’t so great after all and that I just ran into some regular, little man who tucks and runs when he knows that he has failed to complete the task he was hired to do. Not to worry, though. Notre Dame will be better off without you.

    Here’s to watching Nick Saban and Alabama ROLL your ill-prepared and middling Tigers every season. You won’t even last 5 years in Baton Rouge, so if I were you I would take in all of the sites and enjoy bayou living while you can. Ask Les Miles about getting run off from LSU… they ejected him from the state! And he is 10x the coach you’ve ever dreamed of being.

    Farewell, Brian “Unlucky Charms” Kelly…. and GOOD RIDDANCE!!!

    • Irish in the South says:

      Scott…A bit too nasty on BK. He must be given credit for rebuilding the program to where it is today…And for winning at least 10 games in each of the last 5 years. His way of departure was a disaster and he should have done it in a much better way. And his attempts to raid our coaching staff were disgraceful, but par of the course now in the big business of college football. We must remember this…He gave us Marcus Freeman.

  11. Patrick Schaller says:

    This will also be a case of relatability and energy…..Freeman has both and has been responsible for the makeup and performance of both ND and Cincinnati’s records in the last two years….Very positive signs from a recruiting standpoint remember in the 2020 Peach Bowl Cinci nearly pulled the upset on Georgia I am encouraged GOIRISH

  12. Could it be that Kelly’s selfish and narcissistic behavior has led to the best of all outcomes? Shortcomings aside, Kelly has left the program in a darn good place. Marcus gets to navigate the perils of being a head coach and grow into a CEO role without the burden (and daunting time frame) of a rebuild. A win/win: Kelly gets his money and Notre Dame gets its man.

  13. There are only two things I would like to see going forward.

    1) Allow Coach Freeman the opportunity to get ‘his’ program going.

    2) ND needs to finally accept NCAA sanctions. Back in 2012/13 NCAA ruled ND had to vacate 21 victories (12 in 2012, 9 in 2013). Its time we take our medicine and vacate those. Oh, now Brian Kelly has only 80+ wins as head coach at ND. Knute and Lou are still number 1 and 2!!!!

  14. Amazing how everyone seems to forget how POORLY all previous hires with no college head coaching experience has turned out. Bob Davie, Charlie Weis, Gerry Faust. This time is different because someone else might hire him?? We need FIckle!!!

    • Add to Mr Williams’ list of hires–with no previous college head coaching experience–who fared badly at ND: Terry Brennan ’54-’58 and Joe Kuharich ’59-’62, with poor Hugh Devore forced to take over in spring of ’63 when Kuharich resigned. Brennan’s record was 32-18, but 17 wins were with Leahy’s recruits in his first two years, . Poor Kuharich never had a winning season, and compiled a 17-23 record, or 19-30 if 1963 is included.

      We older guys suffered thru ten years of steady decline from the Leahy years until rescued by Ara Parseghian in 1964. I believe Parseghian once said he had had 14 years head coaching experience before taking the ND job, and he needed every one of them once he got there.

      We can all hope Coach Freeman will do well, but hope is rarely a good business plan. “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”–George Santayana. Perhaps Coach Freeman will be the exception to this rule. Perhaps not.

      • Eight teams in the current CFP top 16 have coaches who are at their first head coaching gig. Nine if you count Tucker at MSU, who was only at Colorado for one year prior to MSU.

  15. I hope everything works out but I still am not sure that Freeman is the answer. All the talk about the great defensive effort in the 2nd half of the season overlooks the fact that they played lowly teams. Funny that Freeman’s first game next season is against his old team (Ohio State). I keep my fingers crossed for now.

  16. We’re told that Marcus Freeman is so impressive and charismatic that one would need a fainting couch if you are in his regal presence. The man literally walks on water and I’ve never seen so much praise and adulation heaped on an assistant coach. He’s the Barack Obama of NCAA football.

    I want Freeman to be successful at ND and hope that he is but it’s hard getting past the historical reality at ND of when they hire someone with no HC experience to be HC that it often ends badly. In one sense I can understand the hire because the coaching staff and team could quickly fall apart the more time passes.

    Even if Freeman has a lot of success through the end of this year and in 2022 it could just be a false dawn like it was with Weis in 2005 and his near undefeated season and near date in the nat championship game if not for the USC loss. After 2005 ND steadily got worse until Weis was canned in 2009. There was a time when Bob Davie was young, charismatic and representative of the future and we know how that turned out.

    And Geaux Brian! Kelly won’t get three years to ease himself into his new job and LSU won’t tolerate 8-4 seasons sandwiched in between SEC championship run years.

    • GO ND, No one knows if he’ll be a great HC but he’s proven to be an incredible recruiter just look at the Cincy team particularly the defense which are pretty much all his recruits. Sorry you wanted Luke Fickell who would’ve been Kelly 2.0 except in the short run the team would’ve lost more recruits as Freeman and Rees would’ve also left. So basically, after two years of multiple ticks down, we would’ve had to hope he got us back to where Kelly left off. No thanks! I’ll roll with Marcus, Tommy and this hungry team that has been insulted and bad mouthed by every major media outlet. Please oh please let us sneak into the playoffs.

      • If Freeman had chosen to be the defensive coordinator at LSU instead of Norte Dame, they might be vying for a playoff spot instead of us. And more importantly, he could have been named the new coach at LSU and we would have been stuck with BK. So thank you BK for hiring Freeman.

        I like Mark’s suggestion that BK is not the winningest coach in ND history. We should vacate those wins in 2012 & 2013 because it was on BK’s watch – so Knute & Lou are still the top two. Furthermore, I hope we are not considering paying tribute to to him with a statue. Statues are reserved for coaches that win a championship.

    • Finally, some decent analysis. We all hope that Freeman does well, but he has huge shoes to fill. He must get past getting 3 and 4-star recruits and figure out how to get the big boys. He is inheriting a winning culture but has a big problem at QB. As mentioned, there is a poor history of hiring coordinators with no HC experience. Let’s hope this hire is different.

  17. This is going to work – Kelly couldn’t turn down the money but those coach’s that love ND and it’s
    history turned their back on it – something that can’t be bought and will never be understood by the Irish Bashers. Wish they had a better opener next year but perhaps that will be the perfect storm that’s needed to convince even the Bashers that Notre Dame will always be something special.

  18. From what I am reading around the internet I get the impression that Luke Finkell was committed to staying with the Bearcats at least through Saturday out of loyalty to his players (unlike some coach we know) and the wheels were coming off ND’s recruiting group and coaches too quickly for Jack to wait. I still think he wanted Finkell.