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Notre Dame Football

Q/A | Notre Dame Football Head Coach Marcus Freeman Part II

June 30, 2022

Marcus Freeman was named head coach at Notre Dame in December and has yet to really take a break as the whole Fighting Irish program has put in seven months of non-stop work. 

On Monday, Freeman was gracious enough to sit down with Irish Sports Daily (and other media outlets) to go over a variety of topics from June official visits to his early impressions of the newest additions to the Irish roster. 

Q/A | Notre Dame Football Head Coach Marcus Freeman Part I

ISD: Typical day right now for Marcus Freeman?

Marcus Freeman: Typical day, in the offseason, I like to be in the weight room by six and getting a workout in. Just so I can not be interrupted during the day. Each day is different. Today is different than yesterday, but there are tasks you have to do every day. If It’s not with requirements of media or whatever Katy (Lonergan) asks me to do, it’s filled with recruiting or getting recruits on the phone or doing some football studies.

“I’m big right now on situational football. Two-minute situations, and that’s where I’m really kind of diving in deep. But there’s always something for me to do. The end time is the end time, I don’t know. That changes or that varies for me every day. When my wife says, ‘Can you please come home, I need you?’ That can really change every single day.

ISD: We hear a lot about teams’ needs or players’ needs to build continuity among their ranks, be in the offseason or summer conditioning programs. But what about for a brand-new coaching staff? How are you and this staff building continuity with top to bottom almost entirely overhauled from a year ago?

Marcus Freeman: You have to be very intentional in your meetings and conversations. We’ve staff-met more this year than I’m sure we probably will in the future. Maybe we won’t; maybe it will be a continuation of what we’ve done. But you have to make sure there’s no gray area, that everybody’s on the same page, everybody understands the expectation. The only way to do that is to spend time together. And so we have meetings. Those meetings can last 15 minutes to 2 hours, depending on what we discuss.

But to me, I’m a big proponent of addressing issues right away. Not swiping things under the rug, making sure we’re all able to talk through things. I’m a teammate. I tell them all the time, ‘I’m your teammate.’ Yes, I’m the captain, I sit at the end of the table and I set the standards, but I value feedback. Some people will look at you and say, ‘Well, you’re the head coach.’ No, I value feedback. I’m not always going to change who I am or change my decisions, but the only way to grow is to really get feedback. And I think they’re starting to understand that, because you can really get authentic feedback from some of your coaches. That’s important to me, because that’s the only way I think this program can achieve its maximum potential, is to take ideas from everybody, make decisions and find ways to enhance what we do.

ISD: Countable coaches rule, or I should say the rule eliminating the cap at 10 assistant coaches, looks like it is going to pass, perhaps as soon as this summer. What are your thoughts on potentially expanding college football coaching staff sizes and going to more of the NFL model of potential assistant quarterbacks coaches, assistant offensive line coaches, positions of that nature?

Marcus Freeman: I see both sides of it, and I’m not strongly opinionated either way, but if they do change that, then Notre Dame is going to compete with the best football programs in the country and the ability to expand our countable coaches would be great. We have a lot of coaches here who are analysts and can’t do the on-field coaching that I think would be awesome for them to be able to help our young athletes. If it helps our players if it helps serve our players, I’m a proponent of it. If it’s for money or for any other reason but to help our players, and to serve our players, then I’m not for it.

But I think that’s a way to help our players and help them improve at their craft. I’m a fan of it.

ISD: Two adjectives I think I most hear to describe you are authentic and grounded. So how you maintain that authenticity, that grounded approach when you’re in all these different settings?

Marcus Freeman: I think you are who you are at the core of your heart, man. I wish I would sit there and say I have to remind myself to be grounded. No, I think that’s the way I was raised and that’s credit to my father and my mother. Just treat people with respect. I don’t know if that makes me humble or not, but I’ve been raised to treat people with respect. I’ve been raised to work extremely hard. I want to be authentic. I want to make sure I’m authentic and that people know that what you see or what you hear is what you get.

I’ve got to be careful sometimes with the things I say because they can be misquoted at times, but I think that’s a reflection of who I am. I have a wife that keeps me humble. She’s the first one that puts me in my place and makes sure to remind me that I don’t care who you are or what your role is, you’re still the husband to Joanna and the father to these kids. And so that helps, too, when you have a partner that can always keep you humble.

ISD: How does a first-time head coach seven months into the job have the time to go back and learn the foundational history of Notre Dame football and Jesse Harper?

Marcus Freeman: You listen, you seek wisdom, you listen to other people talk. You study the past. How do you sell a place that you don’t know anything about? If you fall in love with this place and you’re saying that this is who you are, right, you’re the head coach of this university but you don’t know the history of how it’s gotten to where it’s gotten to today, then I think you’re doing it a disservice.

ISD: Can you provide an injury update on the roster? 

Marcus Freeman:
OL Jarrett Patterson (Torn pec): Jarrett is 100% cleared.

WR Avery Davis (ACL): Avery is still working his way back out. I don't know if he'll be 100% for the start of fall camp. That's still to be determined. I think that's what he's aiming at.

RB Logan Diggs (Shoulder surgery): Right now, we set a September return date. Sometime in the first third of the season. He's ahead of schedule. What I don't want to do is put pressure on him to get back for the first game. Whenever he's ready and the doctors say he's clear, great. We're not going to rush that timetable to get back for the Ohio State game or anything else. When his body says I'm ready to go, we'll put him in there.

DL Jayson Ademilola (Shoulder surgery): Ademilola is great. Full go.

WR Joe Wilkins Jr. (Lisfranc): Joe Wilkins won't be 100 percent for fall camp. I would expect him at some point early in the season to be ready to go. I don't know if it's the first game or not 

TE Cane Berrong (ACL): He's been doing all the workouts.

RB JD Price (Achilles): JD Price is out.

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