Notre Dame makes it official, elevates defensive coordinator Marcus Freeman to head coach

Marcus Freeman Notre Dame coach

FILE – Notre Dame defensive coordinator Marcus Freeman watches during warmups before an NCAA college football game against Navy in South Bend, Ind., Saturday, Nov. 6, 2021. Notre Dame is working on a deal to promote defensive coordinator Marcus Freeman to head coach to replace Brian Kelly, a person with knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press on Wednesday night, Dec. 1, 2021. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya, File)

SOUTH BEND, Ind. – The Fighting Irish have their new coach.

The University of Notre Dame named Marcus Freeman the 30th head coach for Notre Dame football. He’ll succeed Brian Kelly, who took the heading coaching job at LSU this week.

Freeman, 35, joined Kelly’s staff this season. Before his hiring, he worked at Cincinnati and had been courted by LSU last offseason. He’d been a highly sought-after assistant coach after helping UC’s Luke Fickell turn the team into a playoff contender. Freeman served as the Bearcats’ defensive coordinator for four seasons.

Notre Dame elevated Freeman from defensive coordinator to head coach to replace Kelly, who’d been the Fighting Irish’s head coach for 12 seasons before announcing his departure. Freeman, a former Ohio State linebacker, is considered a rising star in the coaching ranks and has a reputation as a top recruiter.

Another key piece of Notre Dame’s coaching staff already announced he would stay. Offensive coordinator Tommy Rees, a former ND quarterback, informed the university he would remain in South Bend instead of following Kelly to LSU.

The Irish, still in contention for the College Football Playoff, finished the season 11-1 and await the results of this weekend’s conference championship games. Their only loss was to Cincinnati, currently No. 4 in the CFP rankings. Notre Dame is No. 6.

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