New Notre Dame HC Marcus Freeman Fired a Hot Shot at Alma Mater Ohio State

Article Highlights:

  • Notre Dame head coach Marcus Freeman fired a curious shot at Ohio State University
  • Freeman played at Ohio State in the late 2000s and earned All-American honors there
  • The former NFL linebacker won’t need long to talk the talk against the Buckeyes

If the Notre Dame Fighting Irish return to the College Football Playoff anytime soon, they’ll do so under Marcus Freeman’s watch — and he couldn’t be more excited.

Freeman, who will turn 36 in January, became Notre Dame’s head coach earlier this month following Brian Kelly’s controversial departure for LSU. In sharing how thankful he is to coach the Fighting Irish, the Ohio State graduate took a controversial shot at his alma mater.

Marcus Freeman took a veiled shot at Ohio State in a recent essay

Notre Dame head coach and former Ohio State linebacker Marcus Freeman in 2021.
Notre Dame head coach Marcus Freeman offered a strange shot at Ohio State | Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Social media flooded Freeman, a rising star in the coaching world, with praise after his promotion in early December. He joined the Fighting Irish in January after forgoing an opportunity to become LSU’s defensive coordinator.

Now, Freeman is still at Notre Dame, and Kelly is in Baton Rouge. He is the second Black head coach in program history; Tyrone Willingham went 21-15 from 2002-04.

In a recent essay on The Players’ Tribune, Freeman reflected on visiting Notre Dame as a top high school prospect. Although he “loved” Willingham and had high hopes for what they could have accomplished together, he chose to sign with Ohio State.

Freeman didn’t explicitly write that he regretted signing with the Buckeyes. However, his comments about picking Notre Dame over LSU also included a veiled shot at Ohio State.

“I can’t tell you exactly what it was that told us to come to Notre Dame, but there was something. We all know there’s something different about Notre Dame. We all know it’s something special. And I just thank God that I didn’t make the wrong decision twice.”

Marcus Freeman

Given the context, “twice” almost certainly refers to him picking Ohio State over Notre Dame in 2004. Why he’d offer that opinion is another conversation.

Freeman had a better playing career at Ohio State than you might remember

Ohio State linebacker Marcus Freeman in 2008.
Notre Dame head football coach Marcus Freeman had a stellar career at Ohio State | Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

As of publication, Freeman hadn’t further addressed his comments or the shot at Ohio State. The remarks are questionable, especially given his longstanding ties to the university.

From 2004-08, Freeman totaled 268 tackles, 21.5 for a loss, and earned second-team All-Big Ten honors in 2007 and 2008. He added six sacks, 15 pass breakups, two forced fumbles, and recovered another loose ball.

Although he didn’t own the national recognition that teammate James Lauranatis or Southern California’s Brian Cushing had among linebackers, Freeman did enough to warrant considerable attention entering the 2009 NFL Draft. The Chicago Bears selected him in the fifth round before waiving him several months later.

After spending time with the Buffalo Bills and Houston Texans, Freeman retired in 2010 because of an enlarged heart condition. Later that year, he joined Ohio State’s coaching staff as a graduate assistant and stuck with the profession. Had the Buckeyes not welcomed him back, he may have never put himself on the path to eventually become Notre Dame’s head coach.

Freeman won’t need to wait long before he can talk the talk against his alma mater


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If Ohio State fans are eager to make Freeman rescind his words, they won’t need to wait long. The Buckeyes will host Notre Dame on Sept. 3, 2022, in what is now a highly-anticipated non-conference showdown.

That game will not mark Freeman’s first trip to Ohio Stadium as a visitor. He served as the University of Cincinnati’s defensive coordinator from 2017-20 and coached against the Buckeyes in September 2019. Ohio State showed no mercy and routed the Bearcats, 42-0.

Freeman also worked on Purdue’s staff when the Buckeyes shut out the Boilermakers, 56-0, on Nov. 2, 2013. However, Purdue played that game at home.

For his sake, Freeman should hope Notre Dame actually manages to score a point next September. 

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