Skip to main content
Larry Brown Sports Tagline. Brown Bag it, Baby.
#pounditSunday, January 16, 2022

Articles tagged: Notre Dame Football

Marcus Freeman sends clear message after Notre Dame bowl loss

Marcus Freeman smiling

Notre Dame coach Marcus Freeman will not want to remember his first game as head coach. Despite what happened, he’s absolutely not shying away from the challenge.

The Fighting Irish lost the Fiesta Bowl on Saturday 37-35 to Oklahoma State after blowing a 21-point first half lead. The collapse ensured that Freeman started his Notre Dame head coaching career with a loss, and was a key setback for the new coach after all the positivity that followed his appointment.

Freeman knows this and is not hiding from it. He offered a hugely encouraging quote following Saturday’s loss, proclaiming his honeymoon over.

Freeman is right about that. Most Notre Dame fans were happy with his appointment, and few will turn on him now. However, expectations will remain high, and this loss will lurk in the back of everyone’s mind heading into next season.

The good news is Notre Dame showed what it can be capable of in the first half. The key for Freeman and his staff going forward will be figuring out how to keep that going and being able to adjust on the fly better than they did Saturday.

Photo: Dec 6, 2021; Notre Dame, IN, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish head football coach Marcus Freeman speaks during his formal introduction on the campus of the University of Notre Dame. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Notre Dame extends unwanted bowl record with latest loss

Marcus Freeman before a game

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish suffered an incredible second half collapse in Saturday’s Fiesta Bowl to extend an incredible and unwanted school record.

The Fighting Irish jumped out to a 28-7 lead late in the first half before allowing 30 unanswered points to the Oklahoma State Cowboys. A late score of their own was not enough for Notre Dame, and they ultimately lost 37-35.

The defeat extended Notre Dame’s incredible run of futility in major bowl games. The Irish have lost eight consecutive New Year’s Six and BCS games.

The losing streak goes back even further than that. Notre Dame has lost ten straight dating back to the Bowl Coalition era. They haven’t won an equivalent bowl game since Jan. 1, 1994, when the Irish beat Texas A&M under then-coach Lou Holtz.

Notre Dame was rolling in the first half to the point that some were questioning whether the team was better off without Brian Kelly. The second half silenced a lot of that talk, and furthered the narrative that Notre Dame simply struggles too much in big games.

Photo: Oct 2, 2021; South Bend, Indiana, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish Defensive Coordinator Marcus Freeman enters Notre Dame Stadium before the game against the Cincinnati Bearcats. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Ian Book extends embarrassing streak for Notre Dame QBs in NFL

Ian Book takes the field

From Joe Montana to Joe Theismann, Notre Dame has a proud history when it comes to producing successful NFL quarterbacks. Unfortunately for them, that run has not continued over the last 10 years.

The Fighting Irish have put quarterbacks in the NFL, but many of them have not been successful. And on Monday night, Ian Book extended an embarrassing streak for the Irish.

When Book started and lost his first career NFL start on Monday night, that made former Notre Dame quarterbacks 0-24 in their last 24 NFL starts.

The streak included four losses apiece from Jimmy Clausen and Brady Quinn. Then DeShone Kizer’s 15-straight losses made things really ugly.

It’s somewhat unfair to Book to include him in this list. He was a fourth-round pick and the Saints’ No. 4 quarterback. He was also playing with half a roster. But the stat is a reminder of just how long it’s been since Notre Dame produced an NFL QB. Even Rick Mirer had 24 career wins.

Photo: Aug 23, 2021; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; New Orleans Saints quarterback Ian Book (16) walks to the locker room after the game against Jacksonville Jaguars during the second half at Caesars Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

Notre Dame recruit takes shot at Brian Kelly after committing

Brian Kelly in a suit

Brian Kelly’s abrupt departure from Notre Dame does not appear to be hurting recruiting. If anything, it has perhaps helped in one case.

On Friday, four-star offensive lineman Billy Schrauth committed to Notre Dame. The Wisconsin native notably chose the Fighting Irish over his home state Badgers.

Schrauth did an in-depth interview with Tom Loy of Irish Illustrated, in which he dropped a rather intriguing quote about Kelly in comparison with new coach Marcus Freeman.

“I wasn’t the biggest fan of the last head coach, but when I met coach Freeman, he was different,” Schrauth said, via Irish Illustrated. “He is a great guy and someone I can see myself working for and putting in the work for. He approached our conversations totally different than what I was used to. It totally switched how I felt about Notre Dame.”

There is certainly a perception that Kelly was not the most personable guy as Notre Dame coach. That seems to come through here. After all, Kelly seems to have openly lied to at least one other Notre Dame recruiting target.

As for Freeman, his hire seems to be a home run for Notre Dame so far. Their current players seem to feel the same way about him as Schrauth does.

Photo: Sep 28, 2019; South Bend, IN, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish head coach Brian Kelly waves to fans as he enters Notre Dame Stadium before the game against the Virginia Cavaliers. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Marcus Freeman hire likely to help Notre Dame’s playoff chances?

Marcus Freeman before a game

The College Football Playoff selection committee sparked some worry for Notre Dame after admitting that coach Brian Kelly’s abrupt departure might negatively impact the school’s playoff chances. Those worries are no longer in play, partly because of who the Irish tapped as Kelly’s replacement.

CFP committee chairman Gary Barta said Saturday that the committee had discussed the Notre Dame situation, and it will no longer factor into the evaluation of the Fighting Irish. Barta attributed that to the fact that Notre Dame made an internal hire in coach Marcus Freeman, and that the majority of the school’s assistants were staying instead of following Kelly to LSU.

This is the way it should be. Kelly and his coaching certainly helped Notre Dame, and he did recruit the players. It was those players, however, who put in the work and posted an 11-1 record. Kelly himself readily admitted to that.

Barta had previously suggested that the instability at Notre Dame could work against them in playoff consideration. Now that that’s off the table, the team’s chances look better than ever thanks in part to a dramatic result in the Big 12 Championship.

Photo: Oct 2, 2021; South Bend, Indiana, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish Defensive Coordinator Marcus Freeman enters Notre Dame Stadium before the game against the Cincinnati Bearcats. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Brian Kelly has interesting comment on Notre Dame’s playoff credentials

Brian Kelly in a suit

Brian Kelly is weighing in on whether his departure should factor into Notre Dame’s case for inclusion in the College Football Playoff.

Kelly appeared on ESPN’s “College GameDay” on Saturday, and one of the questions he was asked was about whether his exit should impact Notre Dame’s playoff chances. The Fighting Irish are 11-1 and have a real shot at inclusion. Kelly’s response indicated that he clearly feels the team should be considered based on their record, and that he shouldn’t factor into it.

It’s worth noting that this is actually a key part of any debate on Notre Dame’s playoff credentials. CFP selection committee chairman Gary Barta indicated that the status of the team’s coach would be a factor when the committee debates which four teams should be included in the field. In other words, it’s plausible that Kelly’s decision to leave for LSU negatively impacts Notre Dame’s playoff chances.

Kelly is very much on the outs among Notre Dame faithful over the manner of his departure. However, he could certainly see a Notre Dame playoff bid as a way of burnishing his reputation and preserving whatever legacy he has left in South Bend. There’s no reason he wouldn’t want it to happen at this point.

Photo: Sep 28, 2019; South Bend, IN, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish head coach Brian Kelly waves to fans as he enters Notre Dame Stadium before the game against the Virginia Cavaliers. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Video: Marcus Freeman gets huge reception at Notre Dame hockey game

Marcus Freeman before a game

Marcus Freeman probably doesn’t need to do much to win the crowd over at Notre Dame, but he’s doing it anyway.

The new Notre Dame football coach ended his first official day on the job by attending the school’s hockey game Friday night in South Bend. Freeman was introduced to the crowd at the game, and the response was a standing ovation that lasted over a minute.

Freeman also stopped for a TV interview during the first intermission. The hockey game was between the Fighting Irish and Ohio State, where Freeman played college football. When asked which of the two schools he was rooting for, Freeman offered an answer that will thrill Notre Dame fans.

“I’m all in on Notre Dame,” Freeman said, via Tyler Horka of Blue And Gold. “I’ve been all in on Notre Dame from the minute I stepped on this campus. You can’t help but embrace this special place. Notre Dame will change you if you let it. That’s why I’m thrilled to be the head coach here.”

Things could have gone awry for Notre Dame very quickly after Brian Kelly’s abrupt departure. The way the former coach did it seems to have galvanized the football team instead, and Freeman is taking advantage. He was quite obviously the players’ preferred choice, and it certainly looks like he’s been fully embraced by fans as well. Just contrast that with how one former LSU player feels about the Kelly hire.

Photo: Oct 2, 2021; South Bend, Indiana, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish Defensive Coordinator Marcus Freeman enters Notre Dame Stadium before the game against the Cincinnati Bearcats. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Brian Kelly lied to his final Notre Dame recruit

Brian Kelly in Notre Dame gear

Brian Kelly was still on the road recruiting for Notre Dame right up to the moment that news of his decision to leave for LSU went public. That left the family of the final player he visited as coach of the Fighting Irish with an amazing story.

Tobias Merriweather, a four-star wide receiver from the class of 2022, was the final recruit Kelly visited before the news of the coach’s departure went public. Kelly and three assistants, including offensive coordinator Tommy Rees, traveled to Merriweather’s home in Vancouver, Wash. just hours before the LSU exit came to light.

Merriweather’s father Dom recounted the visit, and how there were multiple signs that something was off when looked at retrospectively. Dom Merriweather told Meg Wochnick of the Columbian that Kelly and his staff arrived an hour earlier than originally planned, and Kelly stepped out at one point to take a 15-minute phone call.

At no point did Kelly even hint that he was considering the LSU job, and none of the Merriweathers had any idea about any rumors. Even after Kelly took the phone call, he returned and stayed for another 90 minutes to eat dinner with the family, and never gave off any indication that anything was in the works.

It was only after Kelly left the home that the Merriweathers became aware that something was up. Tobias Merriweather saw reports about Kelly leaving for LSU as soon as the Notre Dame coaches left his house, and even sent a social media screenshot to the group of assistants.

“They weren’t more than half a mile from our house,” when Tobias received a response, according to Dom Merriweather.

“I showed this to Coach Kelly, and he says, ‘That’s bull (expletive),'” one of the assistants texted back.

Dom Merriweather said the family did not hear from Kelly again from that point on. Tobias Merriweather is still committed to Notre Dame and has been in contact with the remaining assistants, though other schools have reached out after the Kelly news.

The story only furthers the narrative that Kelly handled his departure incredibly poorly. By Kelly’s own retelling, he was certainly negotiating with LSU while this visit was taking place. Kelly also left the rest of the school in the dark about what was happening even as the rumors flew on social media.

A coaching change like this was never going to be straightforward, and there were bound to be hard feelings. Some might have been more forgiving of Kelly if he hadn’t been so adamant about not leaving Notre Dame. Now it just looks like he lied to and misled a lot of people that had trusted him.

Photo: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Awesome video shows how much Notre Dame players love their new head coach

Marcus Freeman greeted by players

Notre Dame were understandably upset when Brian Kelly abruptly left to take the head coaching job at LSU this week, but they seem plenty excited to play for Kelly’s replacement.

Marcus Freeman was officially introduced as the 30th head football coach at Notre Dame on Friday. The 35-year-old was promoted from defensive coordinator. Following his press conference, Freeman received a greeting from his players that will give you chills.

The results on the field are all that will matter, but it’s easy to feel like Notre Dame made the right move after seeing that video. Freeman clearly has the respect of players, and there must be a reason for that. The Fighting Irish are also still trying to reach the College Football Playoff. Promoting Freeman should make the transition easier and help quickly erase the sting from Kelly’s departure.

Notre Dame reportedly considered replacing Kelly with a more experienced coach. It appears Freeman was the guy players wanted, and the reception he got on Friday is further proof of that.

Tommy Rees staying at Notre Dame as offensive coordinator

Tommy Rees coaching

Notre Dame may have lost Brian Kelly as their head coach, but the school is doing its best to keep some continuity.

The Fighting Irish reportedly are promoting Marcus Freeman from defensive coordinator to head coach. Tommy Rees is also staying at Notre Dame as their offensive coordinator.

How do we know? Rees announced the news himself in a meeting with the team on Wednesday night.

“I love you guys. I love this place. I believe that we can win a national championship here. And I’m committed to doing everything we can to get to that point,” Rees told the players.

Rees, 29, has been a coach at Notre Dame since 2017 and their offensive coordinator since last year. He played quarterback for the Fighting Irish from 2010-2013. Notre Dame’s offense has averaged 35.2 points per game this season, good for 21st in the nation.

Photo: March 5, 2020; South Bend, IN, USA; Notre Dame offensive coordinator Tommy Rees walks amongst the players during Notre Dame’s first spring football practice at the Irish Athletics Center. Mandatory Credit: Santiago Flores/South Bend Tribune via USA TODAY NETWORK