By Ryan Harless
Ryan Harless is a third-year undergraduate at BGSU from Hillsboro, Ohio. He is majoring in Sport Management with a Journalism Minor. Baseball and golf at all levels are his primary interest but is also interested in combat sports, hockey, basketball, and football.
October 4, 2022
The Marcus Freeman era is well underway at the University of Notre Dame and thus far has been all but ideal. The Fighting Irish are off to a 2-2 start this season; with last season’s loss in the Rose Bowl plus the first 4 games of this season, they are 2-3 in Freeman’s first five contests.
This was supposed to be the breakthrough season for the Irish, but the South Bend faithful have had the wind sucked from their sails. The starting quarterback at the start of the season Tyler Buchner was put out for the season with a shoulder injury in the second game, a 26-21 loss to Marshall, leaving Drew Pyne to step up.
The first game with Pyne under center was another roller-coaster where nothing seemed to fully click for the Irish. During the broadcast you could see Pyne on the phone, purportedly having a very one sided, heated discussion with offensive coordinator and former Notre Dame starting quarterback Tommy Rees. But through all the turmoil of the first two weeks, Notre Dame was able to come through and hold onto their first win of the 2022-23 football season against California.
As mentioned before, expectations were high among fans going into this season. Coming on the heels of Brian Kelly leaving the team before last year’s bowl game, the Irish were ranked as the fifth best team in the country leading up to their season opener at Ohio State. Despite being 17.5-point underdogs, Freeman and his team held a 10-7 lead going into halftime. Notre Dame’s offense would go silent in the second half as has been a theme thus far this season, and they would fall 21-10.
As disappointing as the week one loss was, it in no way compared to the at-home loss to the Marshall Thundering Herd in week two. Marshall took a 9-7 lead into the half and never looked back. At this point things were starting to look really bad for the Irish and the Thundering Herd kept their foot on the gas to take the victory.
Notre Dame would make their way to .500 on the season with their week four win over the North Carolina Tar Heels in a much closer game than most Irish fans would have liked to see. But after a week off and looking forward to their game against BYU, a big win at home could be just what the Irish need to get back on their feet and make a run.
Media coverage of the Notre Dame football team and Freeman was less than ideal but understandable given the circumstances of the situation. Prior to Notre Dame’s week three win against California, reporters were questioning the leadership abilities of Freeman and the coaching staff surrounding him. As Michelle Martinelli of Fighting Irish Wire said, “the honeymoon period has ended after one of the most embarrassing at-home losses in Notre Dame history.” I don’t feel that Freeman is getting an unfair shake by any stretch either. I like to think that even with the loss to Ohio State, if Notre Dame had rebounded with wins against both Marshall and California, this would still be considered a successful start to the Freeman era. It is unfortunate that the defeat against Marshall will likely be a major slight to any small-scale success he might have with the team.
I am still hopeful for the rest of Freemans’ tenure at Notre Dame, but something obviously needs to change if he wants to leave behind a successful legacy.