football Edit

How Marcus Freeman has taken Notre Dame football head coach job in stride

Hours before his introductory press conference Monday, new Notre Dame head coach Marcus Freeman worked from the same office he occupied when he was the Irish’s defensive coordinator. Hours after, he hopped on a private jet for an in-home recruiting visit.

Some things never change.

OK. Some things do change. Freeman will move over to the head coach’s office previously inhabited by Brian Kelly, but that relocation isn’t of the essence right now. Freeman has barely had time to sleep in the last week. A new office can wait.

“At some point I think I’ll move over there,” Freeman said on the Dan Patrick Show Monday morning. “Right now I’m in my corner office and I keep telling myself, ‘This is a reminder of where you’re at and what you’ve done to get to this point.’ I don’t need a big office right now. I need to get to work. And that’s what I'm doing.”

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Outside of a few seconds here and there throughout when the 35-year-old Freeman allows himself to think, ‘Wow, I’m the head coach at the University of Notre Dame,’ it’s been business as usual.

“Once that second goes up, it’s about, ‘Get back to work, get back to work,’” Freeman said.

The publicity portion of Freeman’s hire is just about over. Sure, he’ll be the main attraction in the week leading up to the Fiesta Bowl when No. 5 Notre Dame (11-1) plays No. 9 Oklahoma State (11-2) in Glendale, Ariz., on New Year’s Day.

Until then, though? There’s no time to waste.

Freeman posed for pictures with his wife, Joanna, and their six children immediately after Monday's press conference. But in the time it took a reporter to walk to the other end of the indoor football field to see what graduate senior nose guard Kurt Hinish had to say about his new head coach and then turn back to the main stage, Freeman was gone.

He entered the room around 2 p.m. He exited at roughly 2:45. Exactly one hour later, Freeman boarded a plane with offensive coordinator Tommy Rees to check in on four-star offensive guard Billy Schrauth in Wisconsin. BlueandGold.com reported Freeman went from there to see four-star wide receiver Tobias Merriweather in Vancouver, Wash. Freeman is set to stay on the recruiting trail for much of the week for in-home visits with Notre Dame targets.

College coaches recruit. That isn't newsworthy. But the nature in which Freeman is recruiting is certainly worth pointing out. A week ago at this time, Freeman didn't know what his future held. He was in the process of being courted by former Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly at LSU. He was waiting on a phone call from Notre Dame director of athletics Jack Swarbrick to discuss a potential future in South Bend.

"It's been a whirlwind," Freeman said Monday. "Just the conversations you have, the people you have to talk to, the conversation you have with players, it's all crazy. I don't want to get into the details of what the [most crucial] 48 hours or 72 hours were like. It was pretty hectic, not a lot of sleep, but the end result is you're the head coach of Notre Dame. So I will take it any time."

That title is more than just a badge of honor to Freeman. It's a lifestyle he has vowed to embody in everything he does. He even told his children at the press conference that while he knows they did not ask to share their father with the world, it's something they have to do given what he does and who he is. He's the head coach of one of the most prestigious programs in the country. That occupation comes with a spotlight few others in the sport can match.

It comes with a responsibility that shouldn’t be taken for granted, too. Freeman said so himself. And the only way he knows how to uphold that is by doing what he has always done since he first started wearing the logo 11 months ago. Go home and relish in the glory that was Monday’s well-orchestrated production of a press conference or get on a plane and go make headway with players who could be major assets to Notre Dame football? Freeman loves his family. He’s a family man first. But he chose the latter. Some other coaches might not have. That’s what sets him apart.

“It starts with having an unselfish wife and understanding that there’s going to be certain things you miss,” Freeman said. “There’s going to be certain times that you miss things because of what this job entails. There have to be people around you who tell you, ‘Hey, go home, go spend time with your family.’”

That time will come. But that time isn't now. Freeman has a program to enhance.

He did, though, get to share a heartfelt moment with his family in all of the craziness of the last week. Freeman told Colin Cowherd Monday he was in his daughters’ room when the call came through last week. The one in which Swabrick told him he had the job if he wanted it.

Freeman wasn't allowed to share the news with anyone that night. Just him, Joanna and their six kids savoring it and celebrating how far they had come in his coaching career — from Kent State to Purdue to Cincinnati to Notre Dame. A dream destination.

Nobody pinch him, though. He's got work to do.

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