Noie: Video tells you all you need to know about Marcus Freeman — and the new Notre Dame
At 20 minutes past 9 on a cold and gray and typical December morning in Northern Indiana, Notre Dame football threatened to break social media.
Just snap it in half right then and there.
Technical difficulties, please stand by.
Forget how the rest of the day or the weekend would unfold. Notre Dame football and new head coach Marcus Freeman won the day. Won the week. Won the rest of 2021, whatever that brings for Irish football.
Because at 20 minutes past 9 on that cold and gray and typical December Friday morning, Notre Dame football took to Twitter to kind of, sort of roll out the program’s 30th head coach in a way a head football coach at old and often stuffy Notre Dame has never been rolled out.
Via a minute-long video clip. So 2021.
Watch those 60 seconds. They’ll inspire you. They’ll motivate you. They’ll give you chills. There they go again. I’m not tearing up, you are. They’ll make you want to run a mile or five as fast as you’ve ever run them, maybe even punch out 20 pushups even though it’s been years since you did 10. Knock out a 1,258-word column (before edits) before lunch. Whoosh. Done.
Watch the video and you can do something, do anything, do everything.
That’s the point, right? Notre Dame football’s not going anywhere. With a new coach, it’s going places. Climb aboard. LFG.
It was as passionate and as powerful as a 60-second video clip gets. It was all that and so much more.
Watch it and you think, whatever team No. 6 Notre Dame (11-1) draws when the postseason party plans/invitations are extended Sunday, those guys don’t stand a chance against this runaway freight train.
Not after seeing that video.
Marcus Freeman on being named Notre Dame head football coach
“It is an honor to be named the head coach of Notre Dame Football. I am eternally grateful to both Father John Jenkins and Jack Swarbrick for giving me the opportunity to lead the exceptional men who make this program what it is. Notre Dame is a very special place and I look forward to pursuing a national championship with the most outstanding student-athletes, coaches and staff in college football.”
The scene sweeps us inside the Irish locker room at Notre Dame Stadium. Players are gathered for what they believe is a team workout, a group run to end what had been a wild and wacky and, for some, worrisome week. The players are addressed by director of performance Matt Balis, who was the first of many key pieces of an Irish puzzle that decided to remain in place this week.
Balis praised the guys for their focus and ability to remain attention-to-detail driven through what likely was the longest four days of their young lives after the previous head coach lit out for LSU. What direction would the program go? Could athletic director Jack Swarbrick make that needed home-run hire? What might the coming hours and days and weeks have in store for arguably the nation’s most storied football program?
So many questions, so few answers. But the Irish stayed patient. Stayed with the plan. Stayed.
For The Brotherhood is more than a catchphrase for that program.
Keep watching, because the immediate answer to everything bursts through a side door at the 37-second mark after Balis scraps the scheduled workout to bellow, “Your brand-new football coach!”
► Hansen:Irish football chat transcript
Earlier Friday morning, Notre Dame officially announced the 35-yeear-old Freeman as the guy, again via social media. Here he comes, through that side door, arms pumping like he’s celebrating another Isaiah Foskey sack, or a J.D. Bertrand tackle, or anything offered by safety Kyle Hamilton. He's dressed in a blue suit and a white shirt and no tie. He’s class/cool. He’s coming at them now, charging like nearby nose tackle Kurt Hinish toward the quarterback.
Bedlam busts out. Surely, the walls shake. No thunder needed.
Freeman charges in to greet his guys and yells, "LET'S GO!"
The players all are up hollering and hugging him, all dressed in team-issued green shorts and t-shirts. Hinish — had to be Hinish — grabs Freeman around the neck for a hug as the video ends. Darn. Play it again. And again. And again.
Moving forward with Freeman
The scene leaves everyone outside of the Notre Dame program green with envy, leaves them wishing that this was their head coach, that this was their program, that this was their present and their future.
It’s that good. You only need those few seconds to understand Freeman’s passion, to understand his love of the place and the love for his players. Watch them react to the new head coach. He's not just a CEO. He's not just a figurehead.
Barely an hour after the video posted, it had been retweeted over 9,000 times. It received 22,000 likes.
What a moment. What a crazy five days in and around Notre Dame. Winningest head coach in program history bails, and tries to convince many on the current staff to follow him to Louisiana. They all stay. Someone who hasn’t been on campus for a year is elevated to head coach. But he gets it, and gets it in ways that maybe the other guy never did in his 12 seasons.
Which brings us to that other guy.
The hiring of Freeman should close the door on how everyone still cares what Brian Kelly does today and tomorrow and next week. He’s yesterday’s news. Let it go and let him go to Baton Rouge to try his hardest during his introductory press conference not to use the words Notre Dame. That’s fine. Let him stand at center court during halftime of an LSU basketball game and trot out that fake southern accent.
So Kelly being Kelly, isn’t it? Even his introduction to the LSU players was a bit different, and a whole lot more subdued than Freeman's. That silence. Wake up!
It’s time for everyone around Notre Dame to turn the page. Forget about Kelly and what he does or what he says or what he doesn’t do or doesn’t say. That mattered this time last week. It doesn’t matter anymore. He didn’t want to be at Notre Dame anymore, so he’s not here.
That no one at Notre Dame followed Kelly to LSU tells you a ton. About him. About Notre Dame. He wanted Freeman. He wanted Balis. He wanted offensive coordinator Tommy Rees. He got none of them. He again underestimated the power of the place. To him, Notre Dame was just a job, though he did it pretty well for 12 years, especially the last five.
To others, to Freeman and to Rees and to defensive line coach Mike Elston, Notre Dame is more than a place to work. It's a calling. Calling BS on that? Fine. Watch the video again. That will get you.
Kelly should be out of sight out of mind, unless of course LSU and Notre Dame meet in a bowl game or a College Football Playoff semifinal or, even a national championship game. Then we’ll dust off traits and grit and everything else that was Kelly-speak.
Kelly showed this week how much he really cared about Notre Dame. He’s someone else, and somewhere else.
This is Freeman’s time. He'll be officially introduced at 2 p.m. Monday at the standard press conference setting. Life’s still moving too fast for everyone to press pause for that right now. Saturday could bring the chaos needed for Notre Dame to climb into one of the four CFP semifinal spots. Sunday will bring word on the Notre Dame postseason plan. It might be a third trip to the semifinals in four years. It might be a trip to the Fiesta Bowl or to the Peach Bowl.
Whatever happens, Notre Dame moves forward with Freeman. Time to do the same.
The feeling the last few days around this Notre Dame football program is like nothing anybody has felt for far too long. Maybe ever. It sure didn’t feel like this when Bob Davie was hired or when Tyrone Willingham was introduced or when Charlie Weis was flashing his Super Bowl rings or even when Brian Kelly arrived.
This is different. Like, no longer the same, old Notre Dame.
Follow South Bend Tribune and NDInsider columnist Tom Noie on Twitter: @tnoieNDI