Notre Dame found a new defensive coordinator in Marcus Freeman, who was one of the hottest commodities in coaching as the architect of Cincinnati’s Top 10 defense.
Notre Dame responded to losing defensive coordinator Clark Lea in a huge way when they picked Cincinnati’s Marcus Freeman to replace him.
Freeman was officially announced as the Irish’s new DC and linebackers coach on Friday.
“The work Marcus has done elevating the programs he has been a part of speaks for itself, but equally as important is the exceptional work he has done in building relationships with his staff and players,” head coach Brian Kelly said in a statement. “Marcus was our top choice to become our next defensive coordinator, and we are pleased he and his family will be joining us at Notre Dame.”
As one of the most coveted names on the market this January, Freeman had many top options to choose from. He interviewed for LSU’s open DC spot and was also reportedly pursued by Steve Sarkisian for his Texas staff. The Irish won the battle.
Notre Dame wanted Marcus Freeman thanks to his Cincinnati success story
Kelly and company couldn’t have found a better option on paper to replace Clark Lea, who took the head coaching job at Vanderbilt.
Freeman served as the defensive coordinator at Cincinnati under Luke Fickell since 2017. He was instrumental in building the Bearcats into AAC conference title winners and landing a New Year’s Six appearances this past season.
Cincinnati’s 2020 ranked No. 8 in scoring defense nationally, limiting opposing offenses to 16.8 points per game. They were also No. 13 in total defense, No. 3 in passion efficiency defensive, and No. 14 in rushing defense. They forced the 10th-most turnovers in the country and averaged three sacks per game, good for 16th overall.
Freeman will be taking over a Notre Dame defense that also ranked very highly. The Irish were 11th in total defense and 12th in scoring defense on the way to their playoff berth.