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Welcomed Pressure Awaits Freeman & Notre Dame in 2024

Time flies doesn’t it folks? It feels like just yesterday we were discussing Marcus Freeman getting the head job at Notre Dame and now we are already discussing what year three will look like. A lot has happened. A lot has changed. There have been a lot of ups and downs in play as Freeman has tried to find his footing under the bright lights of Notre Dame Stadium.

For multiple reasons, justified ones, there will be a ramped-up level of pressure on the Irish to perform very well in 2024. It just feels like the time has come to start delivering. The fans and media are ready for it and it feels like the program is at a turning point. Let’s discuss this incoming pressure and why Marcus Freeman welcomes it.

Year 3

Thoughts on Notre Dame’s 2024 early signee class
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This bullet point is quite obvious but has layers to it. Freeman is entering year three. Much of the new coach “good grace” or “learning curve” benefit-of-the-doubt” mentality much of the fans and media had in years 1-2 is wearing off, as it should.

From here on out, Freeman will be expected to tighten up the operation. No more clock management mishaps, 10 men on the field mishaps, or general disarray of any kind will be overlooked. Also, historically speaking, year 3 has been a big year for Irish head men. Of recent vintage, Lou Holtz won his title in year 3 and even the King of Mardi Gras himself, Brian Kelly made it to the BCS title game in his 3rd year. Notre Dame fans have this fact top of mind.

Freeman Heavy Roster / Staff

USA TODAY SPORTS
USA TODAY SPORTS

Marcus Freeman inherited a severely flawed roster when Kelly left Notre Dame. Nobody knew that more than Kelly himself who headed down south partially to avoid having to navigate a roster mess he created. This is how college football coaching transitions go, and it became Freeman’s job to win with what he has. A tough task indeed for any coach, let alone one at his first stop.

Now that the roster is starting to heavily turn from a Kelly one to a Freeman one, expectations will be raised. More and more of the players are “Freeman’s guys” and that means that there’s nobody to blame but Freeman and his staff should things not go well.

The same theory also applies to the assistants. Most if not all shades of Kelly’s staff and holdovers of “Notre Dame guys” are gone. These are Freeman’s handpicked coaches and they all must deliver. Period.

New CFP

Joshua Bickel-USA TODAY Sports
Joshua Bickel-USA TODAY Sports

The CFP expansion to 12 teams beginning in 2024 is going to alter the perception of teams by both fans and media alike. It’s an interesting dynamic. Sure, it will be easier to gain entry to a 12-team field over 4. But it will also be a harder journey to hoist the trophy once in said field. How will this playout? We wait and see.

The modern reality is very simple. Once the field expands to 12, success will be binarily judged. Making the field means a successful year while missing the field means you’ve failed. This will be the standard and measuring stick moving forward. Freeman’s 3rd year coinciding directly with the CFP change leads to intrigue and the desire to be a part of the initial experiment.

Increased pressure, for justified reasons, is a good thing. Marcus Freeman won’t hasn’t and doesn’t shy away from that. It feels like the Irish are rounding into form, but how good of form will it be?

For more Irish news & notes follow John on Twitter @alwaysirishINCAlways Irish on Youtube and or your preferred audio podcast provider.

Story originally appeared on Fighting Irish Wire