Marcus Freeman was officially introduced today as the new Head Football Coach at the University of Notre Dame. The event, which featured remarks by University President Father John I. Jenkins and Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick, was emceed by former ND quarterback, Brady Quinn and held on the floor of ND’s indoor practice facility.
After the preliminaries, Freeman addressed the crowd which besides the team, included his mother, father, wife and six children for approximately 10 minutes and answered questions from the media for another 15 minutes.
After the requisite acknowledgement directed to Father Jenkins and Swarbrick, Freeman complimented his team by referring to them as “exceptional thinkers” and said, “you are tireless workers and you’re committed to excellence in everything you do”.
Freeman then moved on to his parents who were seated just a few feet away. “I get my discipline, my work ethic, my honesty from my father. I get my unselfishness and others centered focus from my mother, and that is how I will lead this football program. We will be disciplined, we will be tough, we will work tirelessly, but we will do it with the understanding that no one person, no one coach is more important than another. And as a team and a family, we will accomplish all of our goals.”
Freeman then moved on to his leadership philosophy, “I plan on leading this team with an unwavering standard…the golden standard…. number one, challenge everything…..a mentality to find a better way. Number two is unit strength….it’s making a choice to love your teammates. It’s what turns players into a team. And number three is the competitive spirit. It’s creating a winner’s mindset…..this standard will be unwavering. And this is the standard that will drive this football program to it 12th National Championship.”
Freeman then moved on to his family who were seated directly in front of him. With a hint of emotion he thanked his wife, who he said is sometimes his “toughest critic”. The emotion grew as he slowly spoke out his six children’s names and said, “You didn’t ask for this, you didn’t ask to share your Dad, but you have too and I love you.”
Voice still cracking, he took a deep breath and specifically thanked Father Jenkins and and Jack Swarbrick. “Thank you for challenging everything. Thank you for making a decision to believe in a 35 year old first time head coach. I vow to work tirelessly to never disappoint you.”
Before moving on to the task ahead, he thanked his parents, and summed up their impact on his life by saying, “I am me, because of you.”
Freeman closed his prepared remarks as follows, “I’m ready to get to work. My sense of urgency is for right now to make sure that this team is prepared on January 1st in the Fiesta Bowl, to be victorious verses Oklahoma State, and that’s where our focus will be.”
The event was then opened up to questions from the media. More than once Freeman got back to the importance of recruiting to getting ND to the top and he signaled a more active role for the head coach in the process. “I better be the lead recruiter, in every kid we recruit.”
Asked about his belief in Notre Dame’s ability to win a National Championship, he answered, “We’re close…it could be done right away.”
Freeman said he would not make a decision on the now vacant defensive coordinator position until after the bowl game. He also said that he had no update on Kyle Hamilton’s status for the Fiesta Bowl.
To end the event, Freeman was asked to comment on the significance of a man of color being hired for the job. He answered in part, “If you work hard and do the right things, the opportunities are endless.”
To close the event the band stuck up the Victory March as the assembly exited.
No doubt Marcus Freeman went back to work.