The Most Intriguing Head Coaching Changes of the 2021/2022 Season
- Brian Kelly resigned at Notre Damn to take the head gig at LSU, followed by the Fighting Irish promoting 35-year-old Marcus Freeman to replace him.
Wow! Talk about Notre Damn President John I. Jenkins and Director of Athletics John B. Swarbrick Jr. rolling the dice on this hire. After all, Freeman—who has no head coaching experience—steps in to fill the shoes of the school’s winningest coach (113-40) at arguably the most storied football program in America.
Why is ND wagering that a young African American coach can handle the job with no head coaching experience? Well, it’s definitely not like the Irish are making a “politically correct” statement or have something to prove here by hiring a Black head coach—they’ve already done that before. Remember? Tyrone Willingham (2002-2004) is Notre Dame’s first Black head football coach.
The Irish hired Willingham away from Stanford in 2001 to replace George O’Leary after the latter resigned only five days after being named to succeed Bob Davie as head coach because the Irish caught him lying about his achievements on his resume. Fortunately, Freeman is not taking over the program in such an awkward way that Willingham began his tenure.
Nevertheless, the glaring fact remains: Notre Dame could have hired their pick from a group of successful and experienced head coaches. So then, why did they promote Freeman to the position?
The Deal on Marcus Freeman: He’s No Pig in a Poke
For Notre Dame to make this move, we can only assume that Marcus Freeman must have shown the leadership, drive, dedication, and aura to impress the top brass enough for them to hand him the keys to their hallowed blue and gold supercharged Lambo. After all, they’ve seen him work his magic as their defensive coordinator for the past season. In addition, the Irish are well aware that Freeman has shined everywhere else he has been during his brief coaching career.
In 2020, Marcus Freeman was selected 247Sports Defensive Coordinator of the Year at Cincinnati (2017-2020). He was also a three-time Broyles Award nominee, an annual award to honor the best assistant coach in college football; he was a finalist for the award in 2020. Before his stint with the Bearcats, Freeman served as a co-defensive coordinator and linebacker coach at Purdue in 2016.
Brian Kelly was so impressed with Freeman that he snagged the former 2nd Team All-Big Ten Ohio State Linebacker (2004-2008) to be his DC at Notre Dame after the 2020 season. The rest is history. Well, admittedly, as brief as it is.
One thing is for sure, Jenkins and Swarbrick Jr. will soon look like geniuses or madmen for hiring someone so young and with no head coaching experience to lead one of the nation’s elite college football programs. And no doubt—all eyes will be watching.
My sincere hope is for the young brotha, Marcus Freeman, to succeed. But still, damn! I’m getting my popcorn out to watch this show.
Last updated January 3, 2022:
2021-2022 NCAA FBS Head Coaching Changes
|Reason for Move
|New Coach, Former School and Position
|Joe Moorhead, Oregon OC
|Jay Norvell, Nevada HC
|Mike Elko, Texas A&M DC
|Florida Int. U.
|Mike Macintyre, Memphis DC
|Billy Napier, Louisiana HC
|Left for Washington
|Jeff Tedford, Former Fresno State HC
|Clay Helton, Washington State DC
|Timmy Chang, Nevada WRC
|Brian Kelly, Notre Dame HC
|Left for Florida
|Michael Desormeaux, Louisiana Co-OC
|Sonny Cumbie, Texas Tech OC
|Mario Cristobal, Oregon HC
|Left for Colorado State
|Ken Wilson, Oregon ILB Coach
|New Mexico State
|Jerry Kill, TCU Assistant HC
|Left for LSU
|Marcus Freeman, Notre Dame DC
|Left for USC
|Brent Venables, Clemson DC
|Left for Miami
|Dan Lanning, Georgia DC
|Left for TCU
|Rhett Lashlee, Miami OC
|Sonny Dykes, SMU HC
|Stan Drayton, Texas RB Coach
|Joey McGuire, Baylor AHC
|John Sumrall, Kentucky ILB Coach
|Jim Mora, Uconn OA and former UCLA HC
|Don Brown, Arizona DC
|Lincoln Riley, Oklahoma HC
|Tony Elliot, Clemson OC
|Brent Pry, Penn State DC
|Kalen DeBoer, Fresno State HC
|Jake Dickert, Washington State DC
2022-20023 NCAA Football Recruiting Calendars