Marcus Freeman has only been the head coach at Notre Dame for five months, but has made headlines on multiple occasions. Most of it hasn’t been on the field either.
Earlier this offseason, Freeman upset Ohio State fans by saying in a The Players’ Tribune letter to Fighting Irish fans that he “didn’t make the wrong decision twice” in taking the job in South Bend. Freeman played for the Buckeyes from 2004-08 and chose the Scarlet and Gray over Notre Dame, thus inferring in this piece that picking the Irish this time was making up for a past mistakes.
On Tuesday, Freeman again grabbed Ohio State fans attention with a quote in a story written by CBS Sports national college football writer Dennis Dodd. In this story, Dodd stated that Freeman, while speaking to Fighting Irish alums in St. Louis, referenced Ohio State and Cincinnati — the two programs prior to the Notre Dame job that Freeman has the most experience — and inferred that Buckeye football players don’t go to class.
“If you don’t go to class [at places like that], OK, take some online classes, show up for your appointments. At Notre Dame, you’re forced every day to go to class,” is Freeman’s quote from Dodd’s story.
It seems this did not sit well with Freeman and when he caught wind that people were upset with his quote, he took action. Freeman called both Dodd and Bobby Carpenter, his former teammate at Ohio State and current co-host of The Morning Juice on Columbus sports radio station 97.1 The Fan. Freeman made an appearance on The Morning Juice in order to clarify what happened, the transcript of which is below.
That’s why it was important for me to reach out to you specifically because I wanted to set the record straight in that I was misquoted by Dennis Dodd in this article and key words and context were missing from this quote that upset a lot of people that I care about. I’m very proud of my two degrees from Ohio State. I would never discredit the quality of the education those degrees represent. And I was specifically really talking about the academic rigors at Notre Dame. And Notre Dame has 8,500 students and online classes were not a part of the standard curriculum here. And in fact before COVID, they weren’t even offered.
And so when I was first made aware of this quote making rounds yesterday in a negative way, I was surprised. Because I walked away from that interview with Dennis Dodd and had no sense of anything that I said would offend anybody. And so I asked him to share with me the audio so I could hear exactly what was said. So I wrote down, here’s exactly what was said: “Their study habits are formulated every day. You can’t cheat academics at Notre Dame. If I didn’t go to class at Ohio State — 60,000 students, Cincinnati, another big public school, there’s 40,000 students — if you don’t go to class, okay. Take some online classes, show up at your final. At Notre Dame, you’re forced every day to go to class but it formulates this work capacity, this learning capacity.”
So the only reason Ohio State and Cincinnati were referenced were because they were large schools with a large student body in comparison with Notre Dame, which is a small school with 8,500 students. So that’s why it was important for me to reach out to you because I wanted to make sure what I said was actually reported, and the word “if.” “If you don’t go to class.” And then in parentheses, he put “at places like that.” It wasn’t meant to say that, “You don’t go to class.” When you see a quote that says, Marcus Freeman says, “You don’t go to class at places like that,” that changes the entire narrative, right? When you really look at what exactly I said, I was talking about if you don’t go to class at these big schools that have 60,000, 40,000 students, okay. You can take online classes. The majority of our kids can’t take online classes here because it’s a smaller school and you’re forced to have in-class attendance.
So that’s what I wanted to make sure that I get cleared up that, listen. I would never disrespect Ohio State. I would never say you don’t go to class. I went to class, I’m sure you did. We had classes. We made sure we went to class. So I would never say that and never disrespect my alma mater.
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Freeman’s full interview on The Morning Juice is available here. Freeman and Notre Dame come to Ohio Stadium to face the Buckeyes to open the 2022 season on Saturday, Sept. 3.
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