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Report: Notre Dame hires Marcus Freeman as head coach

Luke Fickell appears to be staying in Cincinnati.
Notre Dame defensive coordinator Marcus Freeman during the Blue-Gold NCAA spring football game...
Notre Dame defensive coordinator Marcus Freeman during the Blue-Gold NCAA spring football game on Saturday, May 1, 2021, in South Bend, Ind. (AP Photo/Robert Franklin)(Robert Franklin | AP)
Published: Dec. 1, 2021 at 8:25 PM EST
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CINCINNATI (WXIX) - You can exhale now, Bearcat fans.

The next head football coach of the University of Notre Dame will be Marcus Freeman, not UC’s Luke Fickell, according to Bruce Feldman with The Athletic.

A source tells FOX19′s Jeremy Rauch the same.

Freeman, 35, rises to the role after spending a year as defensive coordinator for the Irish. He was UC’s defensive coordinator from 2017-2019.

His hiring puts a tidy bow on three days of chaos during which the college football coaching carousel appeared to spin out.

It touched off on Monday’s bombshell news that Brian Kelly had abruptly left Notre Dame for LSU.

Kelly’s move revived painful memories in Clifton of his thief-in-the-night departure for South Bend in 2009. More pertinently, it provoked fears that Fickell might do the same, leaving UC fans twice-scorned.

That both teams—the Bearcats especially, but also Notre Dame—are in the tenous final leg of a playoff race only added to the angst.

Coming into Wednesday, all eyes were on Notre Dame Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick, who skipped an all-important meeting on playoff expansion to tend to the vacancy in his own program.

Swarbrick said in a press conference Tuesday morning that he had declined to name an interim head coach. News then surfaced that Kelly had offered Freeman the position of LSU defensive coordinator and current Notre Dame Offensive Coordinator Tom Rees the same position in Baton Rouge.

Unverified reports swirled that Swarbrick wanted Fickell and that Fickell, a devoted Catholic, wanted to be at Notre Dame.

Fickell’s jerky, muddled answer on Tuesday to rumors about the Notre Dame job inspired little confidence he would stay in Clifton, even if a report from just a week prior suggested just that.

Retaining Rees was seen as critical to promoting Freeman, and reports emerged Wednesday night that Rees was staying in South Bend.

Minutes later, the news broke that Freeman was the guy—much to the pleasure of current players and recruits.

Maybe Swarbrick never came calling for Fickell. Maybe Fickell turned him down.

Either way, it’s Freeman’s time now in South Bend, and Fickell has a conference championship game to prepare for.

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