Sep 18, 2021; South Bend, Indiana, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish defensive coordinator Marcus Freeman leaves the field after Notre Dame defeated the Purdue Boilermakers at Notre Dame Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Marcus Freeman came into the 2021 college football season as one of the hottest assistant coach prospects in the nation. A finalist for the Broyles Award for his work at Cincinnati, he was named 247Sports Defensive Coordinator of the Year in 2020 as well.

With his pick of high-profile defensive coordinator positions, Freeman chose Notre Dame over LSU. Ironically, Kelly has now left Notre Dame to be the head coach for the LSU Tigers, and there’s a report that he wants Freeman to follow him and become, presumably, the highest-paid coordinator in the nation.

However, Freeman also has to consider that there is a decent chance he’ll be in the running to be the head coach at Notre Dame.

And also, if Notre Dame hires Luke Fickell away from Cincinnati, Freeman is the ideal and perfect candidate to take over that job instead.

And even then, there are also other scenarios that could play out that lead to Freeman in a new role.

At the very least, Freeman is expected to be part of the coaching staff in Notre Dame’s bowl game, assuming he doesn’t follow him to LSU. Notre Dame AD Jack Swarbrick has said that the Irish may not have an interim coach but, if they do, that person will not be in the running to be the head coach. So we’ll keep an eye on how that plays out. According to Pete Sampson, there is a lot of internal excitement over ultimately elevating Freeman, who checks a lot of boxes for the program and the school.

As we’ve said previously, Freeman could make a lot of sense as a continuity hire, ideal for keeping players from transferring and recruits from de-committing. Plus, given that every major college football job so far this cycle has gone to a white coach, it would be really great to see a black coach get elevated into a role like this instead of getting passed over for someone else.

Of course, there’s also the question of whether or not the 35-year-old is ready to settle into a job like this. Being the head coach of Notre Dame comes with lofty expectations, the kind that even Kelly fell short of despite being an immense success there. It’s the kind of job built to wear a person down.

Given the way the coaching carousel spins, we’ll likely know more about Freeman’s eventual destination in the days ahead. But wherever he ends up and whichever job he takes, expect him to be well paid and well-admired, especially for the next time the coaching carousel starts turning.

[Pete Sampson]

About Sean Keeley

Along with writing for Awful Announcing and The Comeback, Sean is the Editorial Strategy Director for Comeback Media. Previously, he created the Syracuse blog Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician and wrote 'How To Grow An Orange: The Right Way to Brainwash Your Child Into Rooting for Syracuse.' He has also written non-Syracuse-related things for SB Nation, Curbed, and other outlets. He currently lives in Seattle where he is complaining about bagels. Send tips/comments/complaints to