Report: New LSU football coach Brian Kelly reaches out to Notre Dame defensive coordinator Marcus Freeman

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  • LSU Tigers
    LSU Tigers
    LiveTodayTomorrowvs--|
  • Brian Kelly
    Brian Kelly
    American college football player and coach
  • Ed Orgeron
    Ed Orgeron
    American football player and coach

New LSU football head coach Brian Kelly has reached out to Notre Dame defensive coordinator Marcus Freeman to join Kelly in Baton Rouge, according to a report by The Athletic on Tuesday.

The Athletic also reported Tuesday that the intention would be to make Freeman the highest-paid defensive coordinator in college football.

Kelly on Monday left Notre Dame to become LSU's new football coach in a landscape-shifting move in college football.

Freeman, 35, worked with Kelly at Notre Dame this season, his first with the Irish after spending four seasons as Cincinnati's defensive coordinator and linebackers coach. Freeman interviewed with LSU after the 2020 season to fill the defensive coordinator spot opened after Bo Pelini's departure, but opted for Notre Dame instead.

Football Scoop reported earlier this year that Freeman's offer from Notre Dame was north of the $1.6 million that Clark Lea made before becoming Vanderbilt's head coach after the 2020 season.

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The Ohio State alumnus was a two-time All Big Ten linebacker for the Buckeyes on a team coached by Jim Tressel. After being drafted in the fifth round of the 2009 NFL Draft, Freeman spent a season bouncing on and off three NFL rosters before retiring after the season due to a heart condition.

Immediately, Freeman went into coaching, becoming a graduate assistant at Ohio State in 2010 before joining Darrell Hazell's staff at Kent State in 2011. Freeman followed Hazell to Purdue in 2013, where he spent four seasons and was elevated to a co-defensive coordinator role.

Defensive coordinator Marcus Freeman during the Notre Dame vs. Navy NCAA football game Saturday, Nov. 6, 2021 at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend.
Defensive coordinator Marcus Freeman during the Notre Dame vs. Navy NCAA football game Saturday, Nov. 6, 2021 at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend.

Hazell was fired in 2016, which left Freeman to find another job. Enter former Ohio State assistant Luke Fickell, who left OSU to become Cincinnati's head coach before the 2017 season. Freeman joined Fickell and spent four seasons as the Bearcats' defensive coordinator and linebackers coach. In 2020, Cincinnati's defense was the best in the AAC in both yards allowed and points allowed, and the unit helped the Bearcats to a 9-0 record and a New Year's Six bowl berth.

In 2021, Freeman's defense at Notre Dame ranks 11th in scoring defense and 30th in yards allowed nationally. The Irish defense was one of nine teams to produce 40 or more sacks in the regular season.

This article originally appeared on Lafayette Daily Advertiser: LSU football: Brian Kelly eyeing Marcus Freeman as Tigers' defensive coordinator