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Notre Dame head football coach Brian Kelly thinks he knows who will succeed him whenever it’s time for him to bow out.
Speaking on a podcast dedicated to examining race in sports, Kelly may have gotten carried away in the moment, and accidentally said something he wishes he would have kept private.
“My defensive coordinator is black, and he’s going to be the next head coach,” Kelly said. “This is not about color or race. This is about [leadership].
“Steph [Curry, who was hosting the podcast] just talked about the most important things to be a CEO, and that’s understanding how you make people around you better. It’s that simple.”
Notre Dame defensive coordinator Marcus Freeman, who is only 35 years old, turned down multiple college and professional coaching gigs to work for Kelly, and now we know why. Freeman played college ball at Ohio State, retired from the NFL early because of a heart condition, and then coached at Kent State, Purdue, and Cincinnati for nine years before accepting the DC job at Notre Dame.
Kelly’s public vote of confidence is nice, but it could complicate the transition one day, especially if administrators have other plans in mind for the program. But Kelly also gave an opinion on one of his behind-the-scenes people, Olivia Mitchell, which leads you to believe that everyone is on the same page.
While speaking about the importance of getting out of one’s comfort zone in making hires and “getting away from the old boys network,” Kelly mentioned his female director of football operations, Olivia Mitchell, and said, “She’ll kick anybody’s butt any day in every metric when it comes to doing the job in football.”
Who knows how many more years Kelly will coach, or whether Freeman will stick around long enough to fulfill his coronation as the ‘coach in waiting.’ One thing’s for certain, though, right now: Brian Kelly knows who he thinks should lead the Irish to high-profile postseason losses after he hangs ’em up one day.