Marcus Freeman Becomes New Head Coach at Notre Dame

By Dan Hope on December 1, 2021 at 8:42 pm
Marcus Freeman
Darren Yamashita – USA TODAY Sports

Marcus Freeman won’t be returning to his alma mater as defensive coordinator. Instead, he’s Notre Dame’s new head coach.

The former Ohio State linebacker was officially named Notre Dame’s new head coach on Friday.

Freeman, who played for the Buckeyes from 2004-08, has had a rapid rise in the coaching profession. After spending one season in the NFL, Freeman started his coaching career as a graduate assistant for Ohio State in 2010. He got his first full-time coaching job at Kent State, where he was the linebackers coach in 2011 and 2012, then spent four years at Purdue, where he started as linebackers coach and was promoted to co-defensive coordinator in 2016. Freeman then spent four years at Cincinnati, where he was defensive coordinator from 2017-20, before joining Kelly’s staff in January.

Now, in a somewhat similar move to Ohio State promoting Ryan Day when Urban Meyer retired, Notre Dame has made Freeman the head coach of one of college football’s most storied programs even though he has never been a head coach before.

That’s disappointing news for many Ohio State fans, who had hoped Freeman would return to his alma mater to become the Buckeyes’ new defensive coordinator. With Freeman already landing a head coaching opportunity, Ohio State will have to look elsewhere for any potential additions to its defensive coaching staff, which is expected to undergo changes this offseason after defensive struggles for the Buckeyes in back-to-back seasons.

It’s news that has been well-received in South Bend, where Freeman has already made a huge impact on the recruiting trail for the Fighting Irish and has established himself as a rising star in the industry.

Notre Dame is also retaining several other members of Kelly’s staff including current offensive coordinator Tommy Rees, who announced Wednesday that he was staying at Notre Dame after receiving an offer to join Kelly at LSU, as well as defensive line coach Mike Elston and director of football performance Matt Balis. Most of Kelly’s other assistants are expected to stay in South Bend with Freeman, as well.

Freeman will be back at Ohio State for Notre Dame’s opening game next season, as the Buckeyes are scheduled to host the Fighting Irish in the season opener for both teams at Ohio Stadium on Sept. 3, 2022.

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