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Notre Dame Football

Marcus Freeman Named Notre Dame Head Coach

December 1, 2021

Notre Dame has its guy. 

Marcus Freeman has been named head football coach at Notre Dame as Brian Kelly departed for LSU earlier this week. 

A press conference will be held on Monday at 2:00pm ET to introduce Freeman and Notre Dame also announced he will coach the Fighting Irish in postseason play. 

“It is an honor to be named the head coach of Notre Dame Football,” said Freeman in a statement released by Notre Dame. “I am eternally grateful to both Father John Jenkins and Jack Swarbrick for giving me the opportunity to lead the exceptional men who make this program what it is. Notre Dame is a very special place and I look forward to pursuing a national championship with the most outstanding student-athletes, coaches and staff in college football.”

Hiring Freeman is also a sign of where Kelly left the Notre Dame program. There is no debate Kelly left Notre Dame better than when he found it, but it also allowed Swarbrick the opportunity to find the guy who could get the Irish over the hump while maintaining high standards on and off the field. 

The year in South Bend allowed Freeman to understand the university, but to also learn how to succeed as the head man and develop student-athletes in all aspects.

“Marcus Freeman has not only proven himself a superb football coach, he has shown–both in his time at Notre Dame and in my conversations with him this week–that he is a person of highest integrity who cares deeply about our student-athletes and is committed to their success in the classroom as well as on the field,” said University President Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C.  “I am excited to welcome him as our new head football coach, and to have his wife, Joanna, and their six beautiful children in the Notre Dame family.”

Swarbrick echoed those comments as the ability to build relationships stood out in the 11 months Freeman has been on campus.

“Marcus’ ability to connect with people, his fit at Notre Dame and the way he coaches young men set him apart as we went through our search process,” said University Vice President and James E. Rohr Director of Athletics Jack Swarbrick. “I can’t wait to see how the culture created by these remarkable student-athletes continues to grow under the tutelage of Marcus and his staff.”

The first year for Freeman in South Bend finished with a bang as the Irish defense didn’t give up touchdown in November until the third quarter of the regular season finale against Stanford. Notre Dame finished 5th in yards per play and 12.5 first downs per game, which was first in the country.

Development was plastered all over the defense as Freeman worked through major injuries to linebacker Marist Liufau and All-American safety Kyle Hamilton, the Irish defense has thrived under Marcus Freeman's guidance. They finished the regular season 10th in FEI, 13th in SP+, 10th in points per drive, and ninth in EPA per play.

His defense got after the quarterback better than any others during the Brian Kelly era. The Irish recorded 40 sacks and counting and are 22nd in sack rate. They also played outstanding situational defense with the Irish in the top-20 in 3rd down defense and fourth in red zone touchdown percentage. 

And if you needed further confirmation of how student-athletes felt about Freeman, Notre Dame's recruits and current players expressed that on Tuesday with a plethora of posts on Social Media. 

The Ohio native arrived at Notre Dame following a stint at Cincinnati as defensive coordinator where the Bearcats went 9-1 in 2020 and Freeman was named a finalist for the Broyles Award. 

Freeman, a graduate of Ohio State, played in the NFL for one season before going to the Buckeyes as a graduate assistant in 2010. 

A year later, Freeman moved to Kent State to coach linebackers before heading to Purdue in 2013 for this same position. Purdue then promoted him to Co-defensive coordinator in 2017.

Notre Dame 2021 Defensive Stats 
Points per Game: 18.25
Yards Per Game: 339.1
Yards per Play: 5.13
Passing Yards Per Game: 212.0
Rushing Yards Per Game: 127.1
Team Sacks: 30 (3.33 per game)
Touchdowns Given Up: 24
Third-Down %: 32.9% (56/170)
Turnovers Forced: 23 (15 interceptions, 8 fumble recoveries)

Coaching Career
2010: Ohio State - Graduate Assistant
2011-12: Kent State - Linebackers
2013-15: Purdue - Linebackers
2016: Purdue - Co-Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers
2017-2020: Cincinnati - Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers
2021: Notre Dame Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers 

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