Editor’s note: Article has been updated to reflect fact Freeman has now been hired.

LSU felt it essentially had secured Marcus Freeman, extending a multi-million dollar, multi-year offer to the rising star defensive coordinator.

With Brian Kelly at the helm, Notre Dame made another charge Friday afternoon to the top choice on the Irish’s list of replacements for Clark Lea. By 6 p.m., the Fighting Irish had named Freeman their new defensive coordinator to replace Lea.

“As we looked into finding someone to run our defense, it was important to find the right fit for our program,” Kelly said in a statement, “and Marcus and his family are just that. He has had great success on the field, both running a defense and in his direct work with his linebackers. Additionally, he is considered among the elite recruiters in the coaching ranks.

“The work Marcus has done elevating the programs he has been a part of speaks for itself, but equally as important is the exceptional work he has done in building relationships with his staff and players. Marcus was our top choice to become our next defensive coordinator, and we are pleased he and his family will be joining us at Notre Dame.”

The chaos sent a surge of hope inside the Fighting Irish football program late Friday afternoon and caused an LSU official to say, “Not as confident as I was earlier today,” before the Tigers were forced back to the drawing board when Freeman officially accepted the offer.

Freeman, per a source in Cincinnati with direct knowledge, had told his Bearcats’ linebackers Friday afternoon that he was departing and had chosen to accept LSU’s offer. Notre Dame sources had told FootballScoop earlier on Friday that the Irish appeared out of the mix to land Freeman, the Broyles Award semifinalist in 2020 after a third-straight season of stellar work atop the Bearcats’ defensive unit.

But Friday afternoon, Notre Dame leaders huddled and made another effort with Freeman, included an improved salary offer over the term of the deal, per sources with knowledge of the developments.

Freeman’s deal, per sources briefed on negotiations, was expected to exceed that of the just-departed Lea, who had a multiyear deal that averaged $1.6 million per year.

Notre Dame sources said, “Hang on. There might be news coming.”

As always, stay tuned to The Scoop for the latest news and developments.


Update> Sources now confirm to FootballScoop Freeman has chosen to accept Brian Kelly’s latest offer. Freeman is headed to Notre Dame.

Further update>

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John Brice has covered college football, mostly in the SEC as well as covering Notre Dame and Ohio State, for more than 20 years. He's a former Tennessee Vols football sideline reporter and believes life should be spent traveling or planning the next trip.