Blue and Gold Illustrated

August 2023

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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BLUEGOLDONLINE.COM AUGUST 2023 5 T he attention Marcus Freeman is getting this offseason pales in com- parison to the adoration he received a year ago. Everywhere you turned, you saw him. Every time you perked your ears up, you heard him. There is less of that now that he has a season under his belt. The novelty of it all has worn off. And yet, he's still all over the place — in plain sight and within earshot. He threw ceremonial first pitches at two different Major League Baseball games — one for the Chicago White Sox May 31 and another for the New York Mets July 14. Around the time of the latter, he went on a media parade fit for only the head coach at Notre Dame in the middle of July. Perhaps, fit only for Freeman. Could you imagine Brian Kelly speak- ing on NFL Network's Good Morning Football, ESPN's College Football Live and SportsCenter all within a few hours in a spot on the calendar prime for tee times? The most impressive thing about Freeman staying in the spotlight is the approach he takes to having the oppor- tunity to get out of his South Bend office and tour the country. "As the head coach you're asked to do a lot of speaking requirements," Free- man said on College Football Live. "I go and speak at a lot of Notre Dame net- works and Notre Dame clubs. The only thing I want to tell our university is, 'I want to coincide speaking engagements with professional development.' "With a chance to speak in Charles- ton, South Carolina, I also got a chance to spend a few hours with Sam Hartman and his family at his home. I spoke in Denver and got a chance to meet with the Broncos coaches. I was in Minneapolis and spoke with the Vikings program." Wait. There's more. "It's not always NFL teams, but I want to make sure I'm constantly growing as a leader," Freeman said. "There are many different ways to do that. "You look at the Kentucky Derby and say, 'I don't know how much growth you were doing there.' I was actually able to sit down with Pete Bevacqua, who is going to be our future athletics direc- tor at Notre Dame. We spent some time together at the Kentucky Derby." Becoming the head coach at Notre Dame at 35 years old is daunting. The on-field pressure alone can make some- one cave. The off-field surveillance can make someone go insane. Freeman hasn't flinched. Even after a 0-2 start. He's mindful of everything the job entails. He views setbacks as op- portunities in the same way he views speaking engagements as chances to de- velop relationships and/or enhance the Notre Dame brand. "I think most importantly you learn that it's not as easy as you think it might be," he said. "We start out the season 0-2, losing a tough one to Ohio State. Then we lost one to Marshall. It makes you question everything you're doing. Everybody says trust the process. At that point, you have to fix the process. "When I look back to that Marshall game and especially the Stanford game, I'm grateful that it happened. Nobody wants to lose, but the most growth we had came after those losses. I think we're all better. "There are going to be other tough trials and tribulations in the future, but it takes some of those difficult moments to truly grow. I look forward to hope- fully trying to grow from wins and close wins than a tough loss." Freeman's football-related competi- tive nature speaks for itself. He played the game at a high level and has been coaching at one for more than a decade. Notre Dame has a head coach who is comfortable and confident in the chair he sits in — rarely because he's always on the go — even after starting his ten- ure with an overall 0-3 record. He was the first Notre Dame coach to ever hold that mark. He's 9-2 since then, and he's feel- ing so good about how he's going about things that throwing ceremonial first pitches is scarier than coaching against Ohio State, USC or Clemson. He under- stands that some things are out of his control. So he's going all-out in master- ing what he can control. "When you're coaching, you al- most feel helpless," Freeman said on SportsCenter. "You try to prepare this team and get them ready for this up- coming game, but when the foot hits the ball, they have to go play. They have to execute and do their jobs." ✦ GOLDEN GAMUT TYLER HORKA Tyler Horka has been a writer for Blue & Gold Illustrated since July 2021. He can be reached at Freeman isn't the talk of the universe like he was a year ago, but the Notre Dame head coach is still making his offseason rounds. PHOTO BY CHAD WEAVER Marcus Freeman Is Optimizing His Travel Time

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