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Marcus Freeman to Michigan State? We Don't Think So.

By: Connor D'Aquila ⏐ Writer ⏐ Twitter:@ConnorDaquilaIT


Photo via Michael Reaves | Getty Images


It was officially announced yesterday that the head football coach at Michigan State, Mel Tucker, had been fired with cause. This came after an initial suspension and a lengthy investigation into the sexual harassment claims being made against him. Tucker has nearly $80 million remaining on his contract and will be paid none of it under the terms of the firing. For the time being, defensive backs coach Harlon Barnett has taken over as interim head coach. In two games under Barnett, the Spartans have lost both by a combined 76 points. While he remains an option to take over long-term, Michigan State will almost certainly begin a search for outside hires. One candidate circulating the MSU world is none other than Notre Dame’s Marcus Freeman. Should ND fans be worried about this possibility? I’ll dive into it below.


The Bad for Notre Dame

The argument with the most merit on the Spartan side is dependent on the contract. Tucker had a massive 10-year, $95 million deal at Michigan State made possible by wealthy alum Matt Ishiba. With contracts like these, the school has the potential to pay coaches as well as anyone in college football. Notre Dame, on the other hand, has been known to lag behind in this category. While it is a private school and Freeman’s exact details are unknown, we know from tax forms that Brian Kelly was receiving $3.5 million directly from the school and there was surely more coming from boosters and to an LLC under his control. Still, he was not getting what Tucker was getting in East Lansing, and most estimates say Freeman is only in the $3-5 million range. Clearly, Michigan State could beat Notre Dame here, but that is about where their advantages end. They do have a new football-specific facility, but given the new practice facility and the broader resources of Notre Dame, this would be unlikely to sway a coach.


The Good for Notre Dame

While MSU is a consistent Big Ten threat and a major team in CFB, the status of the program does not compare to that of ND. The school claims six national championships, but since Mark Dantonio left in 2019, they can't claim a conference championship and have only posted an overall record of 25-21. Last season was especially bad, as they posted a 5-7 record and missed out on bowl games. The program is struggling, and the image does not compare to Notre Dame’s. With one of the largest fan bases in the country, there is a luster to the ND job that cannot be found elsewhere. There is a reason Brian Kelly was the first ND coach to willingly leave the program and that was to an LSU program that has won three national championships in the 2000s. They are also paying him upwards of $10 million per year. Michigan State would not be a comparable move in the slightest.


Coach Freeman has also made it clear in his first years in South Bend that recruiting is of the utmost importance to him. According to 247Sports Composite rankings, the Spartans have finished in the top 25 in recruiting only once in the last seven cycles. Following Coach Tucker’s exit, they sit at number 62 for the current 2024 cycle, a situation that no coach would want to inherit. Compare this to Notre Dame’s number eight ranking for 2024 and the fact that they have not finished outside the top 20 since 2006 and the difference between programs becomes clear. There are struggles that come with getting elite prospects to South Bend, but the issues do not compare to those of Michigan State. Whether it is because they have to play little brother to in-state rival Michigan or the previously-discussed lackluster level of excitement around the program, the talent they get is not comparable. With continued effort on the recruiting trail, on the field, and with coaching hires, the prospect of a national championship is far greater with the Irish.


The final major claim Michigan State pundits have been making is that Notre Dame would be willing to part ways with Freeman, a statement I would call absurd. Barring a complete collapse down the stretch of this season, it would make no sense to let a promising young coach leave so early in his tenure. ND fans have seen dark days in the early part of the 2000s, and Coach Freeman has proven that he can build a team at least capable of competing. They also knew what they were getting into with a hire that had no prior experience leading a program, and giving up this early would be ill-advised. Not to mention, he is just beginning to get his own recruits in the door and early signs indicate that he has been getting the right talent.


At the end of the day, very little merit should be given to these ideas found all over Michigan State Twitter. Aside from the contract, Notre Dame does not have much to worry about in terms of retaining Coach Freeman, and we should also hope that if the contract becomes an issue, the athletic department would do what is needed to keep him.

2 Comments


Guest
Oct 01, 2023

Where has Notre Dame's offense gone???? Are they saving Estime for next season???

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Guest
Sep 30, 2023

Focus on Duke!

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