Notre Dame Needs A Leader In This Moment: And They Have One

When Marcus Freeman was offered the Notre Dame job over a year ago everybody knew there would be a tedious “adjustment period” as he acclimated himself to being a first-time head coach. This process would be challenging for anyone, anywhere, but at Notre Dame, the microscope is bigger, more powerful, and more stressful than at most institutions.

Freeman is smart, he knew challenges lie ahead that he’d have to work through very publicly and was more than willing to do so because he believes in both himself and Notre Dame. Freeman has found himself in some extraordinarily rough situations in South Bend already. From losing the starting quarterback for most of year one to all that occurred within the last week regarding the OC search, there’s a lot on his plate.

Notre Dame needs a leader in this moment. A stabilizing force. A uniting voice. They have one in Freeman. Let’s take a look at some ways he can use all that has happened most recently and turn it into a long-term positive for the Irish.

Personalities Matter

Matt Pendleton-USA TODAY Sports

For a head college football coach, Freeman’s personality is somewhat rare. He’s considerate, well-spoken, eloquent, and is a deep thinker. These traits uniquely arm him with what he needs to steer this Irish ship out of some murky waters that they’ve waded into lately.

It’s time for Notre Dame to rally internally. Forget about the negative articles, YouTube videos (even mine), message board rumors, and start to focus on this team building its’ own resolve and drive to want to overcome. Marcus Freeman is the perfect fit for this mission. This level of leadership is needed now more than ever.

Place Above Person

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Historically, Notre Dame head coaches that make their tenure about their ego, fail. Those that realize and respect that it isn’t about them, but is about the 16-foot gold statue atop the dome, tend to have a better shot success both in terms of on the field and in the world of perception.

Freeman is a man of the Irish people, fans feel more connected to him personally after one year than they ever did with Kelly after almost a dozen years. Everyone wants him to succeed. He’s a great fit to lead Notre Dame through these recent times of doubt and question.

Communication Skills Paramount

[Corey Perrine/Florida Times-Union]

Freeman, Swarbrick and company undoubtedly knew some tough questions would be asked regarding the awkward and confusing offensive coordinator situation this week. Freeman handled the moment about as well as anyone would ever ask or expect.

Moments like these are where it really matters to have a coach who’s so well-spoken. While I still have many unanswered questions about what actually happened with Klein and Ludwig, Freeman handled the very uncomfortable  public portion of this process with class and grace. Tip of the cap.

Forward Thinking

Takeaways from Gerad Parker’s first press conference as Notre Dame’s offensive coordinator
Takeaways from Gerad Parker’s first press conference as Notre Dame’s offensive coordinator

Gerad Parker – USA TODAY Sports

There are two huge dynamics in play at the same time right now. The first is dealing with and laying to rest all of the blow-back and questions about the OC hiring process. The second is how to move things forward with positivity rather than a dark cloud of question.

Now that we know who the OC is actually going to be, Freeman and Notre Dame understandably want to focus on the future, not the past. They have 6 months to build an exciting offense to show off next fall. If the Parker offense clicks, this may all just be a bad winter memory. If it struggles, the bad press of the last week will come back full circle. There’s work to be done.

Behind The Scenes

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Notre Dame did as good of a job as possible this week of publicly softening the national story lines and trying to steer into the future. It’s an unenviable position Freeman found himself in but he navigated it successfully.

While Notre Dame may have doused the public fire to some extent, I truly hope behind closed doors some tough discussions are being had about how to insulate the Irish from these kinds of situations moving forward. That needs to happen.

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Story originally appeared on Fighting Irish Wire