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Notre Dame Football

Marcus Freeman Puts Notre Dame Program Above All Else

February 20, 2023

You can choose to take his word for it or not, but Marcus Freeman was quite definitive when talking about Notre Dame’s process of hiring a new offensive coordinator.

“At no time during this process did I not have the support of Jack Swarbrick and the administration,” Freeman told reporters during a Monday news conference.

“I want to be very crystal clear about that. At no point during this process or since my time that I've been here do I not feel that I've had the support of our administration and Jack.”

The Irish looked at multiple candidates before deciding to promote tight ends coach Gerad Parker. Freeman acknowledged Notre Dame pursued both Kansas State’s Collin Klein and Utah’s Andy Ludwig.

Freeman outlined what he was looking for in an offensive coordinator – a pro-style offense that incorporated multiple formations, multiple personnel groupings and the ability to be multiple in both the pass and run games. He applied that criteria to his initial search and the results were clear.

“The top two offenses that you saw on film were Kansas State and Utah,” he said. “We interviewed both of those guys. We brought them both to campus and for their own reasons, they decided not to come. And so, we reconvened and looked at all these different candidates that we were looking for.”

Freeman didn’t display any hard feelings toward Klein and Ludwig.

“Two individuals decided that it was best for them to stay where they're at and much credit to them,” he said. “Congratulations. We found the guy I feel is the right guy for us.”

Shortly after Ludwig’s visit to South Bend, reports came out that Ludwig’s buyout was a substantial obstacle and subsequent reports cited it as the reason Ludwig would be staying with the Utes.

Freeman flatly denied that, saying Swarbrick has offered to pay every buyout presented to him.

“Jack Swarbrick has never shied away from paying a buyout,” Freeman continued. “We talk about those things. We discuss them. But that's not the reason why somebody didn't choose Notre Dame. Let's make sure we get that out there.”

Freeman left no wiggle room on the point.

“I just don't want the narrative to be that somebody didn't choose Notre Dame because of a buyout because it's not true,” he repeated.

“And I'll say it again and again. That is not the truth. OK?”

Some fans will take him at his word and some won’t. Some will feel better after hearing directly from Parker, who showed why he’s so well-liked and highly-thought-of within the coaching community.

And some won’t.

But everybody should be able to see Freeman truly is the ultimate team guy.

Freeman could have skated over the process and been less clear about the role a buyout played. Leaving even the slightest hint of the administration giving him less than its full support – true or not – could only help Freeman moving forward.

It wouldn’t have been seen as whining or complaining, either. In fact, it was expected.

What wasn’t expected was a full-throated defense of Swarbrick and the administration.

Freeman’s insistence that he has the complete support of the administration removes his biggest potential excuse if things don’t work out. But it’s obvious Freeman isn’t even letting that possibility enter his mind.

Keeping the administration on the hook would clearly benefit him personally.

But it wouldn’t benefit the administration.

It wouldn’t benefit Jack Swarbrick.

It wouldn’t benefit Gerad Parker.

And most importantly, it wouldn’t benefit the program.

Marcus Freeman had a choice.

He could have left himself a lifeline without anybody truly noticing. Instead, he sacrificed that lifeline in order to display a united front.

Whether or not you believe him, whether or not you believe this administration is doing everything in its power to win another national championship, it’s obvious that’s Freeman’s only motivation even if he has to make personal sacrifices to do so.

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