Marcus Freeman and Notre Dame get ready to study abroad
Marcus Freeman may feel like the oldest sophomore in the country. The head coach's lessons from Year 1, both good and bad, give the Irish reason for optimism entering 2023.
SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Marcus Freeman stepped into the Notre Dame Stadium press room with a smile on his face, just five days away from Week Zero, 120 and some hours out from the start of Year 2.
“Good to see you guys,” he said. “We were just riding over. It’s gone pretty fast. Just thinking about last year, doing these weekly press conferences, and time flies. It’s a great reminder to enjoy this opportunity for all of us, man.”
The look and feel couldn’t be more different. Last year Freeman carried a preseason top-5 team into the opener. Expectations were wild. Throw in the fact that Notre Dame’s first game was at Ohio State, Freeman’s alma mater, and the storylines wrote themselves.
Then the games started. The Irish lost in Columbus, as most expected, but they also lost the following week to Marshall, and a month later to Stanford. They saved face by thrashing an undefeated Clemson team, by outmuscling a talented North Carolina team and, for the most part, by taking care of business on the rest of the schedule.
This year’s opener is a little different, against an overmatched Navy team breaking in a new head coach of its own in Brian Newberry. It is also the first game of the 2023 college football season, set overseas in Dublin, so all eyes will be on the debut of Freeman’s second act at Notre Dame.
“It’s a series that goes back to 1927, and we’re grateful for this rivalry, the opportunity to play them,” he said of Navy.
Freeman won the offseason last year. He met with every donor, spoke with every alumni club, recruited his tail off, all with the stated intention of guiding Notre Dame to its 12th national championship.
He did a lot of the same this offseason, throwing out first pitches at White Sox and Mets games, among other appearances. But he also scaled the bravado back a bit, at least publicly.