One-on-one with Notre Dame Head Coach Marcus Freeman

Published: Aug. 16, 2022 at 6:42 PM EDT
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - Notre Dame’s season opener at Ohio State is less than three weeks away, and the excitement is building among the Irish faithful about the Marcus Freeman era.

On Tuesday, Countdown to Kickoff co-host and WHME Sports Director Chuck Freeby sat down with Freeman to discuss a wide range of topics, including how life has changed for Freeman and his family since becoming head coach just nine months ago.

“I think right now they understand, my wife understands, that there’s a lot of demands on being the head coach at Notre Dame,” Freeman says. “That means there’s going to have to be some sacrifices, and part of that is the time you get to spend with your family. She does an unbelievable job when there’s a chance to bring the kids to the office or bring the kids to practice. That’s what it’s about. It’s a blend. There is no balance, no work-life balance. It’s a blend. If I can see my kids for ten minutes, and hug them and kiss them at the office, then that’s what I want to do. And I think it’s also a lesson for your players—to see you as a father, to see you as a husband—is a valuable lesson to see.”

At the end of the day, everything boils down to Freeman’s standards for him and his football team.

“For this team, we have two goals,” he says. “One is to win every game we play. And then two is to win the national championship. Every game we play is a weekly focus. and that’s what I want our guys to understand. We’re going to focus on the moment, and we’ll let the big end result—the national championship—be a result of taking care of week-by-week-by-week. And so, there’s not a number that I want to put on or will put on. My thing is prepare to win every game we play. And that’s what we’ll do.

“For myself, listen, ultimately I’m going to be maybe in the eyes of others, be evaluated on wins and losses,” he added. “But in the eyes of myself, it’s going to be helping these young people reach their goals. Guess what? Part of their goals when they come to Notre Dame is being national champions. Part of their goals is winning every game they play. Part of their goals is being developed for the NFL. But the other part is to help them develop as successful men, successful husbands, successful fathers. And that’s why I do it. That is what I’ll measure. Did I help them achieve all the different goals they have? Short term: winning, right, but development for the NFL, but also, development as a man. Those are the things I’m going to measure myself on.”

There’s no question that the new Fighting Irish coach brings a fire and energy to his job. He says he’s anxious, excited, and curious to see just what happens with this 2022 football team.

They’ll certainly have a huge measuring stick in their season opener when they face No. 2 Ohio State in a nationally televised top-five showdown at Ohio Stadium.

Freeman has been adamant the game is not about him as he returns to his alma mater to coach his first regular season game.

“What a great opportunity!” Freeman says. “To get a chance to play in front of the number 1 or 2 team in the country, let’s go! As an ultimate competitor, you love these opportunities. You don’t get these every week, and the ability to go play a top-two team in the country and be able to measure your team, your program, and say ‘Ok, where are we at’ and to go and have a heavyweight fight, this is what any competitor aspires to be a part of. I’m excited for our program. I’m excited for the opportunity, and we’re ready to go.”

A win in Columbus, could be the first step to contending for a national championship—something the Irish haven’t won since 1988. And Freeman believes this program can get back to winning on the national stage.

“I believe it can happen here, and I believe it will happen here,” he says. “I think we’re close now. Getting from fifth in the country to number one in the country is going to be harder than being 25 to five. It’s a huge challenge, a huge climb. But I believe in the talent we have here, the ability to get these guys to continue to play for each other, and the resources we have here to help maximize our potential. I truly believe in my heart that it can be done here.”

Freeman says his biggest concerns are his own inexperience and the inexperience at the quarterback position.

Notre Dame’s season opener at Ohio State is slated for Sept. 3 at 7:30 p.m.

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