James Laurinaitis Joining Marcus Freeman’s Coaching Staff at Notre Dame

By Dan Hope on January 3, 2022 at 12:01 pm
James Laurinaitis

James Laurinaitis and Marcus Freeman are reuniting.

Laurinaitis, who played alongside Freeman in Ohio State’s linebacker corps from 2005-08, announced Monday on 97.1 The Fan’s “Bishop & Laurinaitis” that he is joining Freeman’s coaching staff at Notre Dame after Freeman became Notre Dame’s new head coach in December.

“I’ve been poking around with the idea of coaching for a couple years now, and had tried a couple times here locally, and for whatever reason, the situation just didn’t come about,” Laurinaitis said. “So with your best friend getting the head coaching job, it’s a pretty unique situation and a pretty awesome opportunity to go up there and get started in the profession.”

Notre Dame has not yet announced what Laurinaitis’ specific role will be, though he is not expected to be a position coach.

It will be the first foray into coaching for Laurinaitis, who played in the NFL from 2009-16 and has since worked in broadcasting as a color commentator for Big Ten Network and hosting “Bishop & Laurinaitis” on 97.1 The Fan. He will continue to host that show for the remainder of the week before starting his new job at Notre Dame on Jan. 10.

Laurinaitis said he also considered the possibility of working for Luke Fickell, his former position coach at Ohio State, at Cincinnati. Ultimately, however, Laurinaitis chose to join Freeman at Notre Dame because of the friendship they’ve shared since they played for the Buckeyes.

“We’ve been best friends since freshman year of college, so there’s a level of trust there, but I know that those two individuals care a ton about their families – they have to, they have six kids each – so it’s important to both of them, which is important to me,” Laurinaitis said.

Laurinaitis said his wife, Shelly, encouraged him to take the leap into coaching.

“I know the time is obviously intense. Thankfully I have a very supporting and loving wife who has been pushing me to do this for quite frankly, a couple years. Every time I bring it up to her, ‘What do you think?’ She’d say ‘Sooner or later, you’re gonna just look back and regret it.’ So I'm glad she’s continued to push me to challenge myself.”

Laurinaitis’ first game at Notre Dame will be back at his alma mater, as the Fighting Irish will play Ohio State in the season opener for both teams on Sept. 3, 2022.

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