LSU Football: Marcus Freeman made the wrong choice and it’s going to alter his career

Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports /

Marcus Freeman has shunned LSU football twice in less than a year.

In early 2021, Freeman nearly left Cincinnati to become Ed Orgeron’s defensive coordinator. The deal ended up falling through, however, after Brian Kelly and Notre Dame made a push for Freeman (there’s a lot of irony there).

Last month, after Kelly left Notre Dame to become the head coach at LSU, Freeman again had an offer to join the Tigers’ staff.

And again, Freeman declined to take the job.

This time, it was because Notre Dame decided to name Freeman as Kelly’s replacement.

It’s easy to see why Freeman would take the Notre Dame head coaching job over the LSU defensive coordinator job. It’s more money, plus it’s a head coaching gig. That’s the goal for most college football assistants.

Marcus Freeman should’ve taken Brian Kelly up on the LSU defensive coordinator offer

I don’t blame Freeman for taking the Notre Dame job. It’s nearly impossible to pass up that opportunity.

But his career probably would be better off if he had taken the LSU defensive coordinator job.

Here’s why:

Freeman is only 35. He has a lot to learn. Less than two years ago he was patrolling the sideline at Cincinnati, just popping up on most folks’ radar as a possibly elite defensive mind.

Now he’s the head coach at one of the most storied programs in college football history.

It’s not easy to win at Notre Dame. Sure, Kelly made it look easy. But look at the coaches before him who tried (and failed) to win.

Bob Davie, Tyrone Willingham, and Charlie Weis couldn’t get Notre Dame to an elite level. They couldn’t even get the Irish out of mediocre territory.

Kelly’s an elite coach. One of the best in college football. Freeman might be one day as well. But it’s doubtful that he is right now.

On Saturday, we got a glimpse of the trials and tribulations that Notre Dame fans can expect in the immediate future. Notre Dame blew a 28-7 lead against Oklahoma State in the Fiesta Bowl. The Irish’s defense — Freeman’s specialty — let the team down in Notre Dame’s 37-35 loss.

I think Freeman saw on Saturday that being the head coach of a football team is a lot more than just prepping a defense. It’s a lot to manage.

Maybe Freeman will figure it out. But history suggests that he’ll be yet another three-years-and-done coach.

And that’s a shame. Because I think he’s a great guy who has a bright football mind and great leadership skills. But I think he needs more time to develop those skills before he’s ready to lead a Power-5 program.

Freeman could’ve further developed those skills under Kelly in Baton Rouge. But instead, he’s going to have to learn on the job at Notre Dame. If things go south in South Bend, it will majorly set Freeman’s coaching career back. He’ll have to go back to the coordinator route and rebuild his reputation.

Sometimes coaches are in a hurry to make it to the top — whether they’re ready or not. I think that’s part of the reason we’re seeing so many coaches fired each year.

Next. Brian Kelly's smart decision to end 2021. dark

I hope Freeman figures it out — I’m not rooting for him to fail. But I have a feeling he’s going to regret passing up on the LSU job in a couple of years.